Lindsay Lohan: a PR Case Study


(Photo courtesy of Cane and Todd Benson Art)

Another mug shot on the books for Lindsay Lohan.

The actress who was once praised for her talents by peers and fans has fallen from grace. Movie roles and projects for which she has been critically acclaimed have been eclipsed by her growing criminal record, which includes reckless driving, assault and theft charges.

And even during her court hearings, there’s always some sort of distracting factor that seems to impair the situation—what she’s wearing or not wearing; how gauche her makeup looks; or what profanity she has written on her fingernails.

It seemed as if Lindsay just couldn’t catch a break.

Her failed attempts at making a comeback on the big screen appeared to be more ammo for critics and celebrity columnists. And when the going really got tough, it seemed as though Lindsay’s press and legal team just…split.

In October 2012, Lindsay’s former PR representative, Steve Honig, relieved himself of his duties without publicly giving a reason. But even though he’s been tight-lipped about it, I think we can all read between the lines.

Lindsay’s longtime lawyer, Shawn Holley, stepped down from her role as Lindsay’s legal representative back in January of 2013, but ultimately returned to the troubled starlet’s side to help get her back on track.

LiLo’s troublemaking and insurmountable legal and press issues got me thinking about public relations.

I started wondering if situations like Lindsay’s were continuing to stigmatize the industry, labeling PR professionals as “fixers” who only spin stories and sweep the dirt under the rug. It always seems like they don’t get the proper credit for doing great work when there isn’t a problem.

Sometimes, I feel like this is an industry that’s terribly misunderstood; there’s so much more to PR than just image repair and crisis management.

The problem that entertainment publicists face, however, is that their clients have free will. They believe they can do or say whatever they want — and publicists can’t necessarily stop their behavior. It’s not like the communications department of a major corporation, where everything can be monitored, quantified and produced with a high level of control.

With lawyers and PR reps quitting left and right, I thought for sure that Lindsay had branded herself as the client that everyone would steer clear of.

But I was wrong.

Lindsay signed on with PR team Rogers & Cowan (the same PR team that helped restart the careers of Robert Downey, Jr. and Britney Spears), and Lindsay’s journey to restore her image has been somewhat of a smoother ride. R&C has helped secure interviews that allow her to set the record straight, including the highly-anticipated Oprah’s Next Chapter segment that aired in August 2013. A reality show, which will chronicle the young star’s road to recovery, is also in the works, and could give Lindsay a second chance with her fans and colleagues.

These days, it appears LiLo is keeping her nose clean and her court-ordered stint in rehab seems to be doing some good. She’s jumping into new projects and film endeavors. Let’s just hope she’ll make wiser movie choices to counter the string of bad ones, and garner more positivity around her likeness.

The macrocosm that is Hollywood is only magnifying Lindsay’s personal and legal woes. But if she harnesses her level of exposure appropriately, she can turn the negative light into a spotlight of triumph.

Now, let’s see what we can do about that Justin Bieber.

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Brittany Knox is the newest public relations intern here at c21. She is an alumna of Georgia State University, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Communications. When she’s not sharpening her skills as a future PR maven, Brittany enjoys traveling, dancing, and dining around Atlanta.