Lessons for celebrities from the Om Puri PR fiasco show

PR is a talented, experienced and well-practised tool that can help a celebrity to control image, build popularity and stay connected like never before.

However, many still intend to move ahead independently which doesn’t always deliver positive results in the journey. In a recent incident, veteran actor Om Puri, who has acted in international films with academy award winning actors such as Helen Mirren landed in a major controversy after making a destructive remark during a live debate on national television. Commenting on the fresh ban on Pakistani artists following the Uri and various other attacks, he referred to Indian soldiers and aggressively said “we haven’t forced them to join the army”. He further said “prepare 15 to 20 people as suicide bombers and send them to Pakistan”

Such harsh statements garnered heaps of negative impact on his image, transforming admirers into protestors. This was an unfortunate incident that adversely changed a lot many things for this celebrity. While his austere words made him lose respect in the country, it also highlighted him as an insensitive person with zilch respect for the martyrs. It positioned him in an extremely bad light in the industry, tarnishing future opportunities. Later, the celebrity came ahead and apologised to the public but many still feel that the damage done earlier was beyond repair.

In this day and age, we are surrounded by the daily musings of celebrities. A slightly incorrect dialogue can pose a sabotage to their image; like it did with Aamir Khan, when he commented on the ‘intolerance issue’ and Salman Khan when he commented on ‘rape’ hinting at his movie Sultan. The trend is prominent in abroad too with players such as Jade Goody who made ‘racist remarks’ against Shilpa Shetty in UK’s ‘ Celebrity Big Brother and Justin Bieber who ‘accidently ‘posted obscene images’ on his social media account.

On a Newshour show, this week, on Times Now, Anupam Kher came on the show in an ill-advised face off with Saeed Mirza to debate the idea of patriotism. The show billed the interaction as Anupam Kher vs. Saeed Mirza and could not have done much to help the PR for an already embattled Kher.

Currently, while a celebrity builds his or her profile, one erroneous incident or a word can cause it to rapidly come crashing down with a bang.

In a  scenario like this, PR acts as an ally that well prepares celebrities to overcome such ruinous situations. PR looks behind the glamour and efficiently deals with issues that untrained professionals may not be able to handle. It assists celebrities to wisely convey a message that creates a positive impact on the target audience alongside, maximises the impact across channels, making the effect more and more prevalent and long lasting. In other words, PR can smooth over controversies to keep a positive spotlight on the celebrity. Therefore, whether it’s a new comer in the industry or a veteran celebrity, each needs an intelligent partner by-their-side who can work efficiently and continuously to enrich and enhance the image, safeguarding continued survival amidst numerous odds.

We are past the days when PR was limited to manage paparazzi. At present, public relations have a much deep and crucial role to play when it comes to managing celebrity culture.

Udit Pathak is director and co-founder, Media Mantra

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