Anyone grappling for an effective turnaround strategy after a humiliating and public experience can take a page from Monica Lewinsky’s playbook. But especially if you are female. Being shamed, or the fear of becoming the subject of public shaming, has always been used to make women retreat from public life—or even avoid it altogether.
Here are the steps Ms. Lewinsky used to overcome her naysayers, reclaim her name and rebrand after initially withdrawing from the public eye.
– Trying a range of entrepreneurial and commercial spokesperson appearances to earn the money to pay her legal fees, as well as to establish a new position in life.
– Reestablishing her public voice (in 2014) by publishing an essay in Vanity Fair, “Shame and Survival.” She addressed her past directly. That step led to an invitation to discuss the Clinton crisis as part of a National Geographic Special about the ‘90s. She did not play the shamed victim, but discussed the devasting impact of cyberbullying, which played a significant part in her humiliation.
– Becoming a spokesperson against cyberbullying and online harassment. She launched her official new public image by appearing at a 2014 Forbes summit. Portions of her talk there were televised around the world.
In 2015, she delivered a TED talk, “The Price of Shame,” calling for a more compassionate Internet. It has been viewed online 4,712,119 times. She was invited to become an ambassador and strategic advisor for the anti-bullying organization Bystander Revolutions.
She was a featured speaker at the Ogilvy and Mather Inspire Lecture at the recent Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. In conjunction with her talk, Ogilvy launched Upstandr, a viral campaign to encourage more people to take a stand against cyber-shaming.
Her comeback follows three key steps: retreating from public life, reemerging by directly addressing her public image in a high-profile outlet and becoming more visible with TV appearances that also attract large numbers. Those numbers make her a valuable commodity for other media platforms – as well as commercial brands. She is now a celebrity with a mission millions of people support. Many of them follow her on Twitter @MonicaLewinsky.