What Katy didn't do
What sort of advice was the troubled model Kate Moss given on how to handle the recent tabloid revelations over her drug habits? Obviously not the right kind, according to top PR professionals interviewed by Ciar Byrne
Monday 26 September 2005
James Herring, joint MD Taylor Herring Communications
The apology she has given reads like a corporate apology rather than an admission of a more serious problem. She seems to be in denial about what is clearly a serious problem.
The fashion industry has always struggled with its rock'n'roll antics. It is not that long ago that heroin chic was slammed as disgraceful. It is not like she is promoting a rock band, like her boyfriend. If you are a rock singer, then drug-fuelled orgies sell records, but if you are the billboard face of fashion, beauty and other lifestyle brands, it is a lot more problematic.
I do not think PR considerations need to come first. She needs to go into rehab for a good long stint, six or seven weeks, break down the barriers and deal with issues. There is no glory in rehab. It is not a publicity opportunity. First and foremost, that is what she needs to do.
She clearly does not think she has a problem and she is probably surrounded by people who do not think she has a problem. Unless she gets that sorted, there should be no public relations strategy. She has never really played the PR game. Hardly anybody even knows what her voice sounds like. So for her to come out now and do a "My drugs hell" interview would be completely transparent. In this case, actions speak louder than words.
Assuming that her rehabilitation is successful, then going forward she needs to look at her next life stage, who she is going to appeal to, her responsibilities as a mother and what those are going to say jobwise. At her age what she should be trying to do is get some longevity out of her career. She could potentially carry on modelling for some years, appealing to an older group, repositioning herself as a mum in her thirties.
No one would believe a word of it if she tried to do a PR stunt, so she should get her life sorted.
Max Clifford, PR consultant
First of all, a good PR person would have anticipated and stopped it from ever happening. Everyone has got mobile phone cameras these days - you would have marked their card. Anticipation is the best form of public relations. It could have been avoided and should have been avoided.
Once it is out, to put two fingers up at the media is the worst thing you can do. It makes you look as though you do not give a damn, which might be all right for Peter Doherty, but not for Kate Moss. As the mother of a young girl, it shows you in the worst possible light. By doing that to the media you are saying, "Do your worst, I don't care" - and they will.
Her apology is a step in the right direction, but I think an emotional television interview where she pours her heart out and admits this is out of control is what she should be doing now, and very quickly. If it's on television, a lot of people will see it. She should put her hands up and say, "It's been a nightmare. I'm desperately trying to overcome this and put it behind me, because I know if I don't, it's a one-way path." Providing she comes across as being sincere. The difference between winning and losing is coming across as sincere. If she comes across as frightened and upset about the whole thing, with that kind of public support, the media tends to be more supportive. The fashion houses would find it harder to get rid of her because she's the victim, and you don't kick people when they're down.
Hugh Grant, when he got caught out with Divine Brown, went on television, put his hands up and said, "I've got no one to blame but myself", and it was quickly forgotten.
Mark Borkowski, MD Borkowski PR
Why, oh, why did she leave the apology so long? She should have put out a press statement from day one if she knew these pictures were telling the truth. It is a classic case of shutting the door after the entire stable has bolted. The media agenda runs very quickly. You have got to make some sort of holding statement, no matter how facile. Once the Mirror broke the story, she was an easy target.
In terms of how you move forward, you have got to have a strategy. You need a strong PR and legal team to look at the implications. Anybody writing an obituary would be sadly mistaken, because from all this you can return. Kate Moss will return. She will try and ride this out and gradually there will be a penitent Kate Moss. She will go into rehab and off the scene for a year and return. She can recast herself as an adult brand. There is a way back. When she does move forward, what she does not want is to be caught lying. The great British public do not want to be lied to.
The problem is she knows there is probably a lot more to come. There was a certain arrogance that this would potentially ride out and Kate Moss was bigger than these allegations, and that's proved wrong.
She needs to lock herself away and come out with a game plan.
Julia Hobsbawm, PR consultant
Early on, it was clear that if she was getting any PR help, she was ignoring any advice, out of panic or arrogance or both. Super-A celebrities like her are often out of touch with reality and cannot believe it when they have overstepped the mark. Hence the ill-judged "laughing her head off" comment on her behalf which made her look completely out of touch with the concerns of her sponsors, effectively goading them to act tough.
By Friday, she had done the traditional apology, but it did seem far too little too late. She should have apologised unreservedly immediately instead of toughing it out. She assumed that the media was prepared to keep her open secret indefinitely. She should now appoint a PR agency that knows how to handle A-list celebrities and get some proper advice about not just today and tomorrow but the future. She may have been nearing the natural career end age-wise anyway, but unless this cloud is lifted, over time she will forever only be known as "Cocaine Kate".
She should try and salvage some dignity, and resign any outstanding accounts she has not been ditched from and take time out to sort out issues away from the camera. She should issue a statement to this affect but give no interviews. In her current state this is unwise and she cannot undo the damage. Besides, there is plenty of time to plan a comeback with an autobiography, a choice collaboration, but only next year if not the year after.
Finally, she should find some help but avoid celebrity clinics and other places which court publicity. I do not think she can ever come back as a major model, but what she can do is salvage her long-term reputation as a British fashion icon rather than a tawdry fashion junkie.
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