“Chris is a walking dead man,” said Jay-Z. The statement is referring to the recent domestic violence case involving pop singer Rihanna and R&B singer Chris Brown. Reportedly, Brown and Rihanna got into an argument on Feb. 8 that turned physical, leaving Rihanna bruised and bleeding. According to ABC News, Brown turned himself into Los Angeles authorities Sunday night for allegedly assaulting a woman (who is believed to be Rihanna). I think from a PR standpoint, Rihanna will emerge from this situation on top. As for Brown, he better act quickly to save his public image before it’s too late…or is it?
Brown’s first mistake was waiting too long to issue a public statement. While he remained silent, others did the talking for him. There were statements made on Facebook and various blogs—some under the pen name of Chris Brown. Many celebrities made statements about the incident, most of which were in support of Rihanna. The Press Association posted this statement from Kanye West, “She has the potential to be the greatest artist of all time and, in that sense, I feel like that’s my baby sis and I would do any and everything to help her in any situation.”
Because Brown waited so long to issue a public statement, it prompted some people to become skeptical of the situation, and many dismissed Brown as guilty, including some of his sponsors. While both Rihanna and Brown have millions of dollars at stake in terms of endorsements, Brown is the only one suffering losses. Wrigley’s Doublemint chewing gum has dropped him from its ad campaign and his “Got Milk” ad is scheduled to end this week.
When Brown finally issued a public statement, it was extremely vague and disappointing. It didn’t mention a word about the alleged altercation. Come on, Chris! MTV News posted his statement on their site:
“Words cannot begin to express how sorry and saddened I am over what transpired. I am seeking the counseling of my pastor, my mother and other loved ones and I am committed, with God’s help, to emerging a better person.
“Much of what has been speculated or reported on blogs and/or reported in the media is wrong,” the statement continues. “While I would like to be able to talk about this more, until the legal issues are resolved, this is all I can say except that I have not written any messages or made any posts to Facebook, on blogs or any place else. Those posts or writings under my name are frauds.”
Some may argue that Rihanna’s PR camp should issue a statement as well, but her fans, fellow famous pals and the media seem to be behind her all the way. She is seen as the victim in this situation, and people want to see Rihanna emerge stronger than ever. At the NBA All-Star slam-dunk contest last Sunday, Rihanna’s hit song “Umbrella” blasted over the arena’s sound system. Many in the sell-out crowed promptly cheered when the song came on.
This situation provides a valuable lesson in terms of PR and one’s public image: The only way to quite the rumor mill is to issue a public statement that is direct and honest as soon as possible. Time is valuable in situations where one’s public image is at stake, and it seems Chris Brown is learning this lesson the hard way.