Celebrities and PR: Keeping it Real, Or Keeping it Professional- Which is More Important?

The high streaming trend of social networking sites has taken the world by storm; especially the entertainment world.

Businesses and other professional entities use social networking sites as a means of advertisement and a way to connect to their target markets in ways that appeal to them. The professional world has really gotten the hang of the whole social networking thing, and do well with it… For the most part.

Celebrities have also made their mark in the social networking world; using twitter and Facebook to promote things like music, movies, and athletic events. Fans log on to these sites to find out the latest about their favorite entertainer and what the next move they make will be. Social networking has given Celebs a lot of freedom to be themselves and allow fans to get to know the “real them;” but maybe it’s becoming TOO real.

Some may not be familiar with the all to real, Charlie Sheen rant:

Read more on how Sheen’s rant led too him ultimately being fired from the sitcom “Two and a Half Men.”

Which brings me to my point of celebs and their freedom to promote, or taint their image via social network sites. As if Sheen’s PR agents didn’t have enough of a mess to clean up, he goes to twitter and somewhat confirms the allegations of him being completely out of his mind. This may not have done too much good for his image in the eyes of new job prospects, but it definitely did a lot of good for his popularity ratings. Sheen set a Guinness world record for the fastest user to hit 1 million followers on Twitter.


In this instance, taking the “I’m completely out of my mind” route worked in Sheen’s favor, and it’s hard to tell whether his PR people advised him on what to do via social networking, but efforts were made to clean up Sheen’s mess. His mishap with the “lady of the night,” that ended in a hotel disturbance and allegations of cocaine use by Sheen, may have been one of the biggest image taint-ers, but Sheen’s spokesperson, according to Radaronline.com, tried to put a Band-Aid on the situation by claiming that Sheen had an allergic reaction to some medication and that’s what caused him to verbally assault the woman and accuse her of stealing his wallet. This story may have been believable had Sheen not been in and out of rehab with many allegations of drug and alcohol use; the woman’s profession didn’t help any either.

Another attempt at salvaging the professional image of Sheen, was having him speak out after one of his relapses. According to Chapter 16, pg 333 in THINK Public Relations, a wise and safe thing to do in this situation would have been to prepare a statement to explain Sheen’s misconduct. Having him speak out puts him at risk of allowing  the reporters and editors to be able to twist his words to create more of a frenzy.

Although Sheen remains out of a job, the “Unemployed Winner” remains at the top of the Twitter popularity list with more that 4 million followers.

So my question is; was this a good PR move on Sheen’s part and the part of his PR agents? Although he lost the leading role on one of the most popular sitcoms, he is still the topic of many blogs and at the end of many hash-tags. Although he may not be making the most money, if any, he is still relevant. One of the PR core values is to act in the best interest of the client or employer.So have his PR agents effectively done their job?

Although this may have worked a little for Sheen, is it safe to say that “keeping it real” via social network sites may not be the best image booster for other celebs; especially when they expect to be employed? I think it’s safe to say that “keeping it real” will get you followers, but will it keep you employed?

-Porsha Poe


33 thoughts on “Celebrities and PR: Keeping it Real, Or Keeping it Professional- Which is More Important?

  1. Keeping it real is way more entertaining as most people only see the professional side of a celebrity 85% of the time, and the one instant we do see a “Real” side of a celebrity everyone takes the situation into a frenzy, causing the celebrity to either go on a downslide or hide behind their PR person for clean-up duty to be performed, I do believe America would rather see a professional side of a celebrity rather than a eal side, but the real side is always welcome

    • In this case i would consider Sheen’s real side, “Too Real” ..He kept it real with the drugs and alcohol..Even the alleged assault on the prostitute, and then this his “winning” and “tiger blood” rants. Its about time Sheen show his professional side. If I were a person who could employ Sheen, I would choose not too. Although he is popular now, all of his actions show a disregard of self respect, respect for the image of others, and complete lack of responsibility. Had the people at “Two and a Half Men” kept Sheen on board, they would be facing their own scrutiny, and Sheen caused this.

  2. This entire fiasco makes me laugh because Charlie Sheen is such a ridiculous person. In order for any PR work to help someone, they kind of have to be willing to act sane for thirty seconds – clearly, Sheen isn’t. I don’t really think any failed attempts at trying to clean up Charlie’s image was the fault of the PR company. It’s hard to clean up an image when the client won’t even clean their nose.

    If anything, it seems like it would have been a better idea to not take Sheen as a client. This would only make the PR firm look ridiculous as well, trying to excuse and cover up his actions. I think this would be a huge turn-off for future clients (or, now, lack thereof). His popularity hasn’t gone down though, he’s the new Hollywood Crazy. I went to a Halloween store recently and Charlie Sheen masks were being sold. The only other stars that can be easily found in a costume shop are Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, so I think that’s saying something.

    As for being out of a job, I don’t think that should be too much of a setback for the crazy actor, seeing as he made a TON of money on Two and a Half Men. But, you never know…he could have spent all of his cash on his addiction creeping back up.

  3. I think that’s what my concern with this issue was; does he realize the effect that it has on his family, and his future. Although he’s the new popular kid on the block, how long will this last? will he be washed up in the next year or so, and be struggling to reach back out to the professional world for decent employment? I don’t blame his PR team for not fixing the issue, but i can’t help but wonder…when did Sheen get a degree in PR? lol who told him that acting crazy was the best way to go?


  4. I think that’s what my concern with this issue was; does he realize the effect that it has on his family, and his future. Although he’s the new popular kid on the block, how long will this last? will he be washed up in the next year or so, and be struggling to reach back out to the professional world for decent employment? I don’t blame his PR team for not fixing the issue, but i can’t help but wonder…when did Sheen get a degree in PR? lol who told him that acting crazy was the best way to go?


  5. Very relevant angle here, Porsha. Most of the “Sheen shitstorm” has passed on, but one would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t know what you mean when you say “winning” or “tiger blood.”

    Leashing (or unleashing) a celeb on social media has got to be one of the strongest tests of a PR agent’s pucker reflex – celeb personality depending. This reminds me of Chris Brown’s Twitter feed, where angry, passive-aggressive tweets lashing out at digs from other users or something said about him in the media appear – and disappear in a flash. Or Justin Bieber publicly tweeting some kid’s phone number, blowing up the poor guy’s phone with a thousand-dollar bill.

    The antics, if handled properly, can be fun, but I suspect a good PR agent would rather their clients NOT partake in buffoonery on social media. At least…until there’s a lull in the celeb’s star-factor. Dirty laundry sells, and society is fascinated by train wrecks. It can sometimes do more dollar-value “good” at the end of the day than playing it safe!


    • Yes I definitely agree! Playing the “crazy” role can definitely boost the dollars; but i have to ask, how long does it last? There have always been celebs that temporarly get super popular…Until something else happens to snatch the attention of the public. Once people get tired of Sheen being a weirdo..then what? He’ll probably seek employment (although he’s probably not that “Hard-up), but i wouldnt hire him!

      • To add to Laura’s point about #winning – WOW an overnight success in terms of a trend catching on.

        Some have argued that it’s a PR campaign of self destruction while other have said PR brilliance. I’d like to know where all of you think this falls?


      • I think that all of you have persuaded me to the dark side! lol . I think this may have been a brilliant PR move after all. I still don’t like the effect it may have on his children though.

  6. I’m so glad you covered this issue. It’s definitely one of those things that needs to be discussed because of all the controversy it raises. Now and days I think the big issue with social media networks is the freedom it allows versus morality of the user. At lot of times people don’t realize that the line between professionalism can be crossed very easily. If you are not conscience of the things you post on these sites your reputation can be ruined within seconds. For professionals this something you have to really watch. Though many people just don’t care. Most of these people don’t care too much about professionalism either. Which is rather unfortunate if you ask me. I know a lot of people that think that because its not coming directly out of their mouth it’s not as harmful.
    Now in the case of Charley Sheen we must understand two things. He’s known for these kinds of antics and benefits greatly from them. As far as his personal PR group, I’d imagine they’re aware of this as well. How could they not be. I personally believe that even with a script and plan of action in place Sheen will say and do what he wants. This may not make him the ideal employee but there an allure to his image. He’s real and in a world of facades people crave raw uncut entertainment. I mean like you said, he was the first to reach 1 million followers in record time. It’s hard to knock his method, if there is any. It really seems to work for him. Yes, he makes a scene and causes the media world to go bananas over his rants. This may seem so taboo in the PR world, but would we care he same if he didn’t do these things.

  7. I agree. Although Sheen may be known for this mess, u have to consider that at some point it does get old. So what happens when it does get old? Go crazy again? I think Sheen’s craziness options have all been exhausted and it’s time to be an adult celeb, and a decent influence on your children.

    • I agree perhaps he has abused his eccentric card but at the same time that just might be who he is. I think as PR professionals we will be faced with clients that are a little off the wall. I just wonder how we “stay in front of the story” when our clients are intentionally drawing negative attention to themselves.

  8. Sheen clearly didn’t get a degree in PR, that’s why he was dumb enough to do all of this in the public eye. All celebrities do things that the general public wouldn’t approve of, but I think they’d at least attempt to be discreet. He’s another William Hung, I think…act ridiculous and become superpopular.

  9. You know what Porsha I have different theory if you wouldn’t mind my saying. To answer the question that Gina posed earlier, I would say that his PR people are “Brilliant” in putting Charlie Sheen on the road to “self-destruction” taking us all along for the ride. Charlie Sheen is not a dumb man by any of my standards but maybe a PR genius. Of course I think that his actions and words are ludicrous, but in the end they work for the brand that he is putting out in the public. Sheen was making over 2 million dollars an episode as a main character and writer on Two and a Half Men plus he just got a multi-million dollar settlement from the show recently. Charlie Sheen has kept it “real” and it has WORKED for his “professional” career. In the span of weeks, he broke twitter records, coined phrases, did tons of interviews and even went on tour to make insane amounts of money. Recently Comedy Central hosted a Roast of Charlie Sheen. The man is everywhere and I think that was his plan from the beginning. Sure it cost him his children but hey he can always make a recovery and get them back right? Right now I think he making sure his children’s children will not have to worry about a thing. This man is paid! I for one cannot hate on that. I applaud his PR folks for this ridiculous media blitz but very very effective.

  10. Porsha,

    Many people like to say bad press is still good press, but for Charlie Sheen I’m going to say, no. First of all, his poor PR representatives don’t stand a chance. For many celebrities bad press is good press. It shows they’re human and make mistakes. It’s always a way to come back into the spotlight, but for Charlie he just tainted his whole image. He shows no remorse for his actions and clearly demonstrated that he has poor work ethic. It’s a shame, because so many people would kill for the opportunities that he’s been offered.

    Just because you’re popular through social networking sites and not making any money doesn’t make you popular. It’s like saying, oh I was popular in high school, but now you’re a looser, it doesn’t justify anything. I still think celebrities should have access to social networking. Yes, it can possibly destroy their career, but that’s why she should hire people to say, “Hey don’t say that.” If you’re making millions of dollars I suggest you do worry about your image, that’s the least you can do. If people who are making a low salary care about their image and watch what they say and do Facebook, celebrities most defiantly should.

    I think this is where PR practitioners should come into play. They can bring positive publicity and help their careers. Yes, it’s entertaining when the famous go a little crazy, but it’s a little up-setting at the same time. Sadly, Charlie Sheen isn’t just making himself look like an idiot; he’s making his spokesmen look like idiots also.

    Taylor Maguire

  11. Porsha,
    PR agents have done enough for Ex-sitcom star Charlie Sheen. The first step in getting help is the desire to want help. I’m starting to wonder if Sheen is content with his behavior because he continues to lash out. Think about it from another point of view. Since Sheen was dismissed from “Two and a Half Men,” his PR agents could have sparked a plan for him to continue with his ignorant behavior to remain relevant and in the spotlight.
    It’s one thing to lose your job and suddenly disappear out of the spotlight then to lose your job, but still be a ringing bell and topic of discussion. I believe that Sheen and his PR agents obviously had a plan for him to continue his career on social media networks like twitter, entertaining fans and sparking controversy. If you ask me he knows exactly what he’s doing from here on out.

    • . I don’t keep up on much of this; I’ve just heard through the grape vine about all of his shenanigans and watched a few videos. I think if that was their plan than clearly they are succeeding. I think it’s a shame that social media is being used in that way, but I see it as “oh crap you screwed up your professional career so let’s find someway to keep in the public eye.” As for Gina’s question, I’m honestly not sure what his PR practitioners could do- if he doesn’t want to clean up than they are just wasting their breath making up lame excuses for his actions. Maybe social media is the only option right now and their running with it.

  12. I agree with Orlando 100% on the making money part. He is after all making millions of dollars regardless of anything else and obviously he does not care. Isn’t it about money after all. Is he really staying home thinking oh… what do people think of me? I highly doubt it.

    Answering the question in the blog. I think celebrities should keep it professional if they can’t be a good example for all their fans around the world. Although, the ironic part is that people are more likely to follow some celebrity’s downfall than uprise. The media know that very well, and that’s what they usually loooove to report. They don’t tell us that Ashton Kutcher for example is a good husband…..etc. but they will definitely tell us that he cheated on his wife if he did. We never heard anything about Tiger Woods’ personal life before he was caught cheating. This is just how it is. So most probably Sheen will make more money being a bad guy than a good guy!! It is sad but true.

  13. Charlie Sheen knows his niche audience! Charlie is ballsy comedian that lives his life on his terms. Although some of his fans are surprised by his outbursts, they love it! I can’t remember the last serious character that he’s played in a movie.
    This is all for press, and i personally think its good press. Charlie is gonna have a reality TV show next time you look up. Every time he opens his mouth someones gonna listen, to find out what will he come up with next. I think its great press!
    -Ashley Coleman

  14. I think that he used PR perfectly given his situation. He used the media and spin to his favor and came out on top, in part, due to sheer popularity and exposure. I think PR is a lot like Satellite Radio-in this medium, there is no such thing as “too far”.

  15. Porsha,

    I think that no matter who you are, what you put out on the internet should be taken into some serious consideration because you never know how it could affect you in the future, such as employment. My personal belief is that it is unnecessary to post your life and rants out on the internet, perhaps it’s because I simply don’t care to hear them though. It seems to me when people do that they are just being childish and by putting it up on the internet looking for the world be sympathetic towards them. Whether, they get that sympathy or not depends on how they tell their story. Instead of gossiping to a friend for sympathy, they now have the world.

    Given that Sheen is in the spotlight, by him discussing the situation, I think that since everything was out for the public, it was best for him to be open about it. As you stated though, it could backfire, but it could work out for the best. I think that it is a risk that would need to be taken, I mean how much worse could it really get?


  16. I’m so glad that you wrote about how celebrates are using the social networking to their advantage in the PR world. There is an endless amount of celebrates using twitter and facebook. I think that a lot of fan really love that there favorite celebrates are so readily avaliable. Sadly though some celebs such as charlie sheen can use social media in a bad way to get attention. He reminds me of the saying bad press is better then no press at all!!

    • Those were my exact thoughts about the situation. Yet i think the class’s comments have persuaded me to believe that this is a great PR move for Sheen lol

  17. Porscha,
    In today’s society celebrities are going more towards keeping it real. With social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, Celebrities are actually interacting with fans. Fans are now believing that celebrities are more humanized this way. Being “down to earth” attracts the public even more especially since it is the public whose buying albums, going to theaters to see movies and so forth. Professionally, image is one of the biggest down falls of celebrities especially with big names such as Charlie Sheen, Chris Brown, and Little Wayne.

  18. Porsha,
    Honestly, when I watched his exclusive interview where he was talking about having “tiger blood” and “adonis DNA” and constantly saying he was winning–the man was chain-smoking like a chimney and looking like he had just escaped from his latest stint in rehab. Celebrities are one of the most intriguing types of indiviuals, which is why so many “ordinary” people are fascinated with them. Maybe I’m once again out of the loop–I’m not a fan of Twitter, and i think celebs are abnormal and suffer from multiple personality disorders.

    With that said, i never thought that Sheen’s acting was some type of publicity stunt due to the above reason, and the fact that he was making really good money NOT acting crazy–think Wall Street and even Two and A Half Men. Who cares that he is popular now? To me, that doesnt pay the bills he’s racked up. We have plenty of insensitive folks out in the world who are more concerned with his demise and laughing at his pain and issues rather than really wanting him to get help and turn his life around. Let’s face the facts, people are more interested in seeing someone fail than seeing someone truly make it in life or make it out of a hole they dug for themselves. I really feel sorry for Sheen, and I don’t feed into any of the drama surrounding his life. Personally, I pray for him.

    you spoke on his rep trying to clean up his act–was that his agent or was that his PR person? And for PR pros whose clients are celebs, when do stunts like these become too much? When is enough truly enough? Is it more to gain fans and make money than truly help a human being, which regardless of the tiger blood, Sheen is? And how long will he be able to keep this little “stunt” up, if that’s what it is? And last question, does Sheen represent the majority or minority of celebs going to those extents? Sometimes people treat PR’s like underpaid caregivers- everything cannot be on them and all their fault. Some of those ideas are NOT coming from the PR aspect and when their client goes against their word and counsel, they have to be the ones to clean up the mess left behind. Is it fair?

  19. Although he may still be making money and a name for himself i think Sheen is going about it in the wrong way and drawing negative attention towards himself, which may or may not be effecting him negativly but as for his family I dont think its good. When his children are old enough to look back at the situation they will look back to see that their father used drugs and hung around with prostitues! It may be all fun and games to him but the situation is seruois and should not be taken lightly. I wouldn’t say Sheen is “winning” at all. As for the PR part of it all, I see that they were working hard to clean up his mess, but in his radio interviews he seemed to joke about his drug problem which in all reality is not funny at all.
    -Rhonda Farah

  20. Charlie is not as crazy as we would like to think he is! he made a lot money through this whole thing he is probably sitting back laughing at us and the media for buying into his stupidity. as far as keeping it real or professional they could have done both yet in a tactful way. sometimes the people that pr people work for make it very hard for them to be professional at all time. i could only imagine what it was like working for charlie during this time. it had to hard to clean up one mess and he goes and create another.


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