Entertainment superstars Johnny Depp and Taylor Swift have been making more headlines than usual. Johnny Depp is going through an acrimonious divorce. Taylor Swift recently ended her relationship with DJ Calvin Harris. Amid a sea of headlines, both are managing their messaging well.
When the news of his divorce broke, Johnny Depp issued one statement:
Given the brevity of this marriage and the most recent and tragic loss of his mother, Johnny will not respond to any of the salacious false stories, gossip, misinformation and lies about his personal life. Hopefully the dissolution of this short marriage will be resolved quickly.”
As social media ignited with speculation about Taylor Swift’s breakup, Calvin Harris tweeted this statement:
The only truth here is that a relationship came to an end & what remains is a huge amount of love and respect.”
Taylor Swift retweeted it. And that was that.
When celebrities face a crisis or escalated public interest in their lives, they are on the public stage. Anyone can play a role, whether by defending the celebrity or by escalating the crisis. Celebrities can’t control the conversation. But as Johnny Depp and Taylor Swift’s statements show, they can impact it.
The challenge to a successful career as a celebrity has long been attracting publicity while avoiding overexposure. Striking that balance has always required a nuanced strategy. In the old Hollywood studio system, every aspect of a star’s image was carefully orchestrated, including occasionally avoiding overexposure by pulling him or her out of the limelight for weeks, months, or even years. That is next to impossible now.
Constant online access
The Internet has presented many new opportunities, and challenges, for celebrities. It provides them with far more control over their messaging: they can publish statements and reach the public on their terms using their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter platforms. Beyonce has had tremendous success using that strategy. So has Rihanna. But with the opportunity for constant engagement it’s important to know where to draw the line. Not even the most popular star can maintain the public’s attention indefinitely.
Singers and other performers have more leeway in this area than movie or television stars, as new music, concerts, tours and other developments give them more relevant information to share with their audiences. Justin Bieber, for example, has built his career by sharing his music and life through social media. But he has also established more boundaries over how available he wants to be there.
Choosing the smart approach
When deciding to dial up or dial down your outreach, strategic monitoring of social media and mainstream discourse can provide data that, when analyzed, serves as a valuable management tool. During prolific periods of their careers, social media is an incredibly effective way for celebrities to harness and maintain their audience’s support. Between those peak exposure periods, celebrities can use them as less direct or invasive channels of communication. Philanthropy initiatives can also give stars new content to talk about and share online.
If you are a public figure aiming for longevity in your career and want to minimize the inevitable bumps along the way, following the messaging approach of stars like Beyonce, Johnny Depp and Taylor Swift will help you to succeed. Equally important is developing the right social media strategy. That includes deciding in part how much usage is too much, and which platforms work best at different times. And then, knowing when to step back.