Khloe’s Call Out

There has been recent media buzz about Khloe Kardashian calling out the widely hated celebrity blogger and TV personality, Perez Hilton regarding the new “It Gets Better” campaign project.

But before we dive into what happened with Khloe and Perez, let’s start at the beginning. 

The “It Gets Better” campaign was created by sex advice columnist, Dan Savage (who is gay himself) to support the LGBT youth community.The project began in September in a response to the many recent teen suicides across the nation due to bullying and harassment because of their homosexuality.

Basically, the project is a compilation of YouTube videos that anyone can make, sharing their personal story or just giving their support to bullied youths, stressing to them that “it gets better” and that there is hope in their future.

A lot of celebrities, gay and straight, have participated in the project such as Anne Hathaway, Ke$ha, Project Runway’s Tim Gunn who admits he was a suicidal teen, Jenny McCarthy, Kristin Cavallari, Eve, Jason Derulo, Adam Lambert and last but not least, the infamous celebrity gossiper and openly gay, Perez Hilton.

Khloe’s Dilemma

Perez, who has been very involved in the project confesses that he was also a suicidal teenager and was bullied because of his homosexuality. He recently asked Khloe Kardashian to participate in the videos and show her support. However, Khloe admits that she was very reluctant to do so.

This past week on her blog, Khloe posted a video explaining that Perez has personally bullied her in the past and has given her low self-esteem at times by criticizing her appearance and has been a celebrity bully himself.

She says that she has always been compared to her sisters and has been insecure because she is bigger and physically different. She explains in her video:

I’ve always struggled with my weight, I’ve always struggled with my height, with my hair color, with my skin color… and Perez is a major factor (of bullying) in my adult life…Perez has given me the nickname of a transvestite… writing ‘fugly’ on my face – things that are very hurtful to me. I believe in freedom of speech and I believe in doing  your own thing, but I also believe you should treat others how you wanna be treated.

She thought it might be hypocritical of her to participate in an anti-bullying campaign at the request of someone who has bullied her so much in the past that at times she didn’t even want to go out in public in fear of the paparazzi snapping a bad photo and Perez criticizing it on his website the next day. Khloe says:

Forget my childhood, forget that now as an adult I thought, you know, bullying would be done, but, in my world it’s not done …. I live in a world where there’s magazines and blogs, and people feel like they are allowed to criticize me, and in the meanest way.

However, after seeing Perez’s interview on the Ellen DeGeneres show last week, Khloe decided to participate in the “It Gets Better” campaign and give Perez a second chance.

During the interview Perez vowed that he is going to stop being so negative and hurtful towards celebrities.  

Khloe admits in her video post that if she didn’t have a strong support group of friends and family that she could see why a person who is forced to deal with bullying may think that life will never get better. She stressed in her video that a person needs to ignore bullies because life is about more than that. Khloe also apologizes for taking so long to make this video. She explains that she does want to help in this movement, but that she was just struggling with these personal issues.

Smart PR

Khloe made a great PR move by making this moving video. She opened up to her fans admitting her insecurities and her reasons for being hesitant in participating in such a great campaign. Had she not spoken out at all, her fans might have questioned or criticized her if they found out about Perez’s request.

Luckily, she was smart about the PR aspect of this decision. She posted the video on her blog and linked it to her Twitter where she knew her most loyal fans would see it.

Her followers, like her other two famous sisters, also tweeted about Khloe’s video prompting even more people to see it. (Yes, I admit I follow all three Kardashians on Twitter.)  Her fans left hundreds of comments on her video saying how much they loved and supported her and her message and she thanked them in a later tweet.

Khloe’s video let fans see and respect a different and more vulnerable side of her character. Her audience is used to the sarcastic, sassy, smart-mouthed Khloe, but her video portrayed her character in a completely different light. Posting this video and having this conversation with her fans is terrific for her public persona, but it also brings attention to a great cause, that at the moment really needs it. In my opinion, this is PR at its finest. Let’s hope more celebs will try to Keep Up With Khloe during this time.


Faux Photos

Photoshopping pictures of celebrities in magazines is nothing new.

 In fact, it has come to be expected, especially when it involves A-list celebrities, say in a female targeted fashion magazine.

Just this week, un-photoshopped pictures of the well-known actress Jennifer Aniston were obtained by Gawker, and now representatives of the photo agency that took the photos are threatening to sue if Gawker does not take them down. So far, Gawker is sticking to their guns and not taking down any pictures from their site.

So what’s the big deal? These kinds of magazines use Photoshop all the time. Well, just glancing at Aniston’s un-touched photos, any viewer can see her facial wrinkles and freckles…Wait, even celebs like Jennifer Aniston get wrinkles in their forties? I know, I was shocked too.

Yes, these photos show her real age and skin texture, but why is this a bad thing?

It’s the timeless story of real women and girls of all ages comparing what they see in the mirror to what they see when they walk down the magazine aisle of the drugstore.

 Altered Faces

Ladies, we’ve all done it. Wishing and hoping and trying to look like the flawless image of that gorgeous celebrity or “It Girl” of the moment on the cover of Vogue, Cosmo, or Shape. To have that toned body, that flawless face, and that flowing hair. Although most of us understand that these are not real images, but severely altered illustrations, we still time after time forget that these photos do not represent reality.

 Any half-educated woman knows in the back of her mind that fashion and glamour magazines Photoshop the pictures. However, we still get caught up in the glamour and beauty of these celebs on magazines covers, and we need to sometimes be reminded and pulled back to reality and realize that these images are simply not real, but modified representations of the individuals we see on TV.

I think these images of Aniston side by side (from un-photoshopped to photoshopped) do just that. The un-touched image pulls us back down to earth just as we are ogling at her flawless skin in the post-photoshopped picture. We are presented with a real photo of a real woman and are reminded that what we see in the mirror everyday really isn’t so far off from from these so-called glamouros celebs.

 PR Potential

Ok, enough on women and body image. Here’s the PR lesson that can be taken from this whole ordeal. So far, Aniston nor her reps have spoken up about this issue. It could be great for Aniston’s image to publicly address what is going on here and to recognize that yes, this is what she looks like in an un-touched photo and that she herself is ok with it and embraces every wrinkle and freckle on her face. Aniston would gain a lot more respect from not only her fans, but the public in general.

 Lately, the public is embracing natural beauty.

Kim Kardashian Un-Photoshopped

Just look at Kim Kardashian, one of the most popular female celebs at the moment. She admits that she has cellulite and people love her for it. She even posted a pre-photoshopped image from a photo shoot to her website. Aniston, could really take advantage of this opportunity to boost her America’s sweetheart image even more.

Who knows, she may even convert some Team Jolie fans to her side.

Betty’s Bounce Back

Star of The Golden Girls, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and a number of other sitcoms, 88-year old Betty White’s career seems to be bigger than ever in 2010. She is one of the most popular and talked about celebrities in America right now. It all started this year, when she was featured in a SuperBowl ad for Snickers candy bars and was tackled in the mud playing football with a bunch of guys.

Hollywood Betty White

Betty White Source:

Shortly later in May, she hosted Saturday Night Live as a result of a Facebook petition, “Betty White to host SNL” which ended up getting over one hundred thousand signatures. Now there is even a petition on Facebook for her to host the Oscars.

 Return to Hollywood

White is still going strong with her new show on TV Land, Hot in Cleveland, with Valerie Bertinelli which was recently renewed for a second season. The series premier of the show attracted about 5 million viewers, making it the highest rated and most popular viewed telecast in the history of TV Land. She received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in January. She was also at the MTV Awards in June of this year where she was nominated for the “Best WTF Moment” for her role in the 2009 comedy, The Proposal with Sandra Bullock. 

It is a bit surprising that Betty White has regained her popularity, especially with such a young audience. It seems that Hollywood is so focused on youth with so many celebrities having plastic surgery and trying anything to stay young, that someone like Betty White would have been given the boot decades ago. However, Hollywood has welcomed her back with open arms.

So how did this hip senior citizen make this amazing comeback? She must know a thing or two about PR. White certainly does not exhibit a typical “old woman” persona and has done a number of unusual things to make a young audience laugh. She played beer pong with Jimmy Fallon when she was a guest on his show. While she was on Craig Ferguson’s late night talk show, Betty played a prison guard, a Girl Scout, and even a cocaine smuggling accountant in the show’s skit segments. She will keep working in the entertainment industry as long as she keeps this public relations presence. On one hand, her image reflects a a sweet, honest, almost naïve octogenarian, but on the other hand, she can deliver humor that is sarcastic, even raunchy at times with a straight face, making her facade so unique.

Hot in Cleveland Cast

Hot in Cleveland Cast Source:

White’s Ageless Appeal

Somehow, Betty White still appeals to people of all ages and has regained enormous popularity. She’s a wise-cracking grandma that has a certain charm that has lasted through the past several decades. It’s refreshing to see a woman of her age still having the celebrity stature that she does and still having the respect and support of Hollywood as well as the public. It doesn’t seem that White plans to slow down any time soon with the renewal of Hot in Cleveland and ongoing guest appearances on several shows. Whoever White’s public relations reps are, they seem to be doing quite a good job, but it seems that Betty’s best PR counselor is herself.  Is White’s comeback a step away from Hollywood’s youth obsessed culture or will this Golden Girl’s moment fade away as quickly as it started?

Elizabeth’s Legacy

Elizabeth & John Edwards

John & Elizabeth Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards, the now ex-wife of former United States senator and vice-presidential candidate, John Edwards,  has recently come out about her side of the story regarding her husband’s highly publicized affair. She did a live one-on-one interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer on the Today Show last week where she discussed her battle with cancer, her husband’s affair, her children, and her book, Resilience.                               

Edwards recently added a new chapter to the paperback version, which was recently released. In the previous version, Edwards explains why she stayed with her husband after his affair, for which she was publicly criticized, but has now spoken out about why she has finally left her husband. She writes that this was a very difficult and scary decision to make but knew that she couldn’t live the rest of her life being a “reactive” character. More and more information kept coming out about her husband and his affair, which made her finally put an end to their thirty-three year marriage.

Edwards explains in the interview and in her book that she does not feel that she has wasted her time or has thrown away this portion of her life by staying with her husband for as long as she did because there were many good things that came out of her marriage. Lauer discussed with Edwards how she dealt with learning that her husband had more than just a one-night stand with his mistress, freelance videographer, Rielle Hunter, like she had previously thought, but rather that he was engaging in a real relationship with another woman and even had a child with her.

Facing criticism as “the boss’s wife”

They also addressed the criticism that Edwards has faced from writers such as Andrew Young, who worked as John Edwards’ aide, and who tried to cover up the affair by saying that the child Edwards had fathered with Hunter was his. He described Elizabeth as “intrusive” and “manipulative” and that she had distorted facts about her marriage and husband. 

In the recently published political book, Game Change, Elizabeth is described by political insiders as being a “harsh,” “condescending,” even “crazy” individual. Some even criticize Elizabeth saying she put her husband’s affair in the media spotlight by writing a book in the first place, which portrays her as a “martyr” and also condemns her doing interviews.

Elizabeth defends herself in the interview, saying that she gave her opinion on policies or decisions and that these individuals did not perceive her as being an equal, rather just “the boss’s wife.” She goes on to explain that she does care about what people think about her and this is why she wrote the additional chapter to her book and that she wants to be remembered for the good things that she has done, not for her marriage.

Elizabeth Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards Source:

Two sides to every story

Elizabeth, who seems like an extremely forgiving and strong woman is being treated not as a victim in the criticism she faces, but as a perpetrator by many people. In my opinion, she is not acting like a “martyr” or being “condescending” by voicing her opinion and feelings, although she has every right to do so. She was cheated on by her husband publicly, and then lied to, all while suffering from terminal cancer.

In terms of public relations, I think it was a great move for Elizabeth to write a book and do interviews about the issues she faced being married to her husband and being thrown into the public eye. Elizabeth needed to tell her side of the story, not only for herself and letting the public understand the scandal from her perspective, but also for her family and her young children. If I was her PR rep I would encourage her to keep voicing her feelings and her side of the situation and shape her legacy the way she chooses. She should continue writing and promoting her book, because this is potentially molding her image in the world of politics.

However, in the long run will it even matter that Elizabeth shared her perspective, or will the public continue to believe the political “insiders” who were close to her husband? I sure hope for the former, but only time will tell.

Stereotypes and the Supreme Court

Newly appointed nominee to the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan,  has been a hot topic on the political scene lately, mostly due to her personal life. Kagan is a 50 year old unmarried, single woman without children, and there have been rumors about her sexual orientation.

Elena Kagan speaking

Elena Kagan Source:

The rumors started in mid-April when CBS published the opinion article of blogger, Benjamin Domenech, a known right-winged conservative and former Bush administration aide. In this article, Domenech claims that Kagan is a lesbian who has a female partner she met at Harvard, even though he had no evidence or reason to believe this. He also says in the article that Obama supporters and liberals would be pleased if he picked an “openly gay justice.”

However, Kagan is not and has never been openly gay. The White House responded to the CBS article by strongly denying that Kagan is a lesbian. CBS later said that the accusations of Kagan being gay are inaccurate. They explained that they were given permission to reprint the article, in which only claims, but not evidence were cited by the author. CBS eventually took down the column from their online news site and explained that they were only repeating a rumor about the Supreme Court Justice nominee.

Rumors of her being a lesbian have been accompanied by more talk of her appearance and personal life. For example, she wears her hair short, has never been married, and played softball- all old and ignorant stereotypes of gay women.

Close friends of Kagan have even spoken out saying that Kagan is not gay, and that all the talk about her sexual orientation is a distraction from more substantial topics like her platform, stance on important issues, and qualifications. I completely agree. However, it seems that the media won’t leave it alone. Kagan has never discussed her personal life herself, leading people to believe that the rumors are true.

What’s a Supreme Court Justice nominee to do?

From a public relations standpoint, what should Kagan do? She can either address the rumors to the public or stay silent. If she denies the rumors, it may seem as though she is prejudiced against the gay community. She can confirm the rumors whether they are true or not just to make everyone happy and make the rumors go away. She can also just remain silent and hopefully all the talk about her personal life will become old news and fizzle out.

Kagan with Obama & Biden in White House

Kagan, Obama, Biden Source:

It’s surprising and sad that in 2010, powerful women who have chosen to put their careers before their personal lives are given these stereotypes, especially the ones that may not look like supermodels. Would people be more accepting of Kagan and would it benefit her PR presence if she started wearing dresses or wearing her hair long? If I was Kagan’s PR counselor, I would tell her that she shouldn’t have to change who she is and shouldn’t  answer to anyone about her personal life, at least for now. She has been way too successful in her career to stoop to that. Unfortunately, however, in the media and PR world she may be eventually forced to deal with such issues. What would you tell her?

Palin’s Perceptions

Former governor of Alaska and vice-presidential running mate of John McCain in the 2008 election, Sarah Palin, has been known to not always make the best PR decisions in the statements she makes to the public. She is known for her famous catchphrase “Drill, Baby, Drill” clearly making known her stance on oil drilling.

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin source:

Her latest PR blunder came earlier this month regarding the BP oil spill. Apparently, Palin blames the radical environmentalists who protest the act of deep-water drilling for the oil spill. Certainly it couldn’t be the drilling companies such as Transocean, the drilling company involved in the spill, or BP itself that are responsible for this. Palin claims that because environmentalists are opposed to coastal drilling, resulting in protests and lawsuits, oil drillers are forced into deep-water drilling. Therefore, the hippy environmentalists are the ones to blame for this disaster.

She explains her logic on her Facebook page:

This is a message to extreme ‘environmentalists’ who hypocritically protest domestic energy production offshore and onshore. There is nothing ‘clean and green’ about your efforts. Look, here’s the deal: when you lock up our land, you outsource jobs and  opportunity away from America and into foreign countries that are making us beholden to them. Some of these countries don’t like America. Some of these countries don’t care  for planet earth like we do — as evidenced by our stricter environmental standards…

Extreme deep water drilling is not the preferred choice to meet our country’s energy needs, but your protests and lawsuits and lies about onshore and shallow water drilling have locked up safer areas. It’s catching up with you. The tragic, unprecedented deep water Gulf oil spill proves it.

To top it off, Palin “tweeted” just this week about the spill and trying to solve the crisis:

Gulf disaster needs divine intervention as man’s efforts have been futile. Gulf lawmakers designate today Day of Prayer for solution/miracle.

Clearly, being Palin’s PR rep would be a full-time job. Palin may have valid points about outsourcing jobs or the pros and cons of on/offshore drilling, but it is neither the time nor place to express them. Instead of playing the blame game, which never proves to be beneficial in public relations, Palin should be encouraging these oil companies to take responsibility for what has happened.

For Palin to publicly blame environmentalists on her Facebook page and “tweeting” that divine intervention is needed to solve the oil spill problem is certainly not helping with her credibility as a politician nor her image. Although a day of prayer would be nice, Palin needs to take it a step further. From a PR standpoint, Palin should be using social media to ensure the public that the oil companies take responsibility for what has happened and are working to find a solution to the problem and repair the damage that has been done (not waiting for divine intervention). Blaming others and not taking responsibility is probably one of the worst PR moves to be made in this situation.

Helen’s Horrible Mistake

The well-known Hearst journalist and White House reporter, 89-year old Helen Thomas recently resigned  from her position after making racial comments. While speaking with a rabbi, Thomas said that Jewish people should, “get the hell out of Palestine” and go back to Germany and Poland. Helen Thomas White HouseThis remark was caught on video and soon posted to the Web. Although she did apologize right after, the damage was already done. Many called her comments ignorant and offensive. Her scheduled speech at a graduation ceremony was even cancelled.

Thomas is a prominent member of the press, particularly in Washington. She was always known to ask the “tough” questions. During her sixty-year media career, she has covered every president in the White House since Eisenhower while working for United Press International. Thomas was the first female officer of the National Press Club and the first woman officer and president of the White House Correspondents Association. She is accredited as one of the most influential women in America and has written five books. She was even born the same year that women won the right to vote. Coincidence???

Certainly Helen Thomas has established herself in the media and political world during her six- decade career and has done great reporting in Washington. Unfortunately, one bad PR move ended her career on a sour note. Granted, Thomas will turn 90 in August, and retirement may have been on the horizon anyway, but this is no way to end more than 60 years of hard work. Helen Thomas and President KennedyInstead of being remembered as possibly one of the most influential women in politics and media of the century, she may now be remembered as a bigoted old woman who didn’t know when to retire or to keep her mouth closed. Maybe she said the things she did because she was just a little too comfortable in her position or feels she is entitled to say what she thinks because of her age. Who’s to say?  Regardless, her career is over and it didn’t end well.

What may have helped Thomas, if there was any chance of redeeming her credibility and respect of Washington as well as the public, would be the help of a public relations rep. Thomas issued an apology right away, which was a smart move and apologized on her website explaining that she really doesn’t believe the things she said. Another PR move to turn things around for her may be to publicly interview or report on Jewish leaders, highlight what positive things these leaders have done recently and why they are strong, positive members of the Jewish community. This would mostly likely not fully restore her image, if at all. However, the public might give her a second chance if she took her apology a step further and actually showed that she does respect the Jewish community. After all, look at all the positive things she has done throughout her career. It looks as if right now, no one is willing to forgive or forget Thomas’s racial comments. Had she taken further steps to restore her image, would the public eventually deem her a credible reporter? Due to her immediate resignation no one will ever know for sure.