Celebrity Value and Mishaps

Among thousands of celebrities, we all have our favorites. We follow their movies, their sports games, their interests, their music, and much more. We admire them, making them subconsciously a part of our lives. For these reasons, many advertisers use celebrities to promote products. Celebrities create interest and force people to listen because we feel as if we “know” these celebrities. However, when a celebrity creates a socially unacceptable mishap, the celebrity’s value typically declines. Such is the case with NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams.

Until recently, Brian Williams, an infamous journalist and NBC news anchor, was among the top news anchors. However, NBC suspended Williams for six months without pay for misrepresenting a news story. Williams’ faux pas is an expensive one for NBC. Promoting a product takes much time and money to gain a following. Therefore, removing logos associated with Williams while he is suspended results in a costly move for NBC. Further, NBC loses Williams followers and those who feel that he should have received a harsher punishment. While Williams has not been fired, his job is still in question as he hires lawyers to defend his career in light of a morality clause in his contract. Even if Williams returns after suspension, NBC has a trust issue on its hands. The public will likely be skeptical as it does not always forgive and forget easily. Therefore, NBC’s credibility is at stake on how it proceeds.

People put celebrities on pedestals, so when celebrities make a mistake, even a small one, it can become a huge ordeal. Often, a simple mishap can be a career downfall. It’s even more critical when a celebrity represents a company. For NBC, Brian Williams was the face of NBC Nightly News. Therefore, the public may have trouble trusting NBC’s news sources. After one week of suspension, NBC Nightly Newsexperienced a drop in viewership by 700,000 viewers. While the true meaning for this drop may include other issues such as fewer noteworthy news topics, it is likely that the viewership may remain lower for some time. Time will tell by how much. People get attached to celebrities, just as they do doctors or other professionals in their lives. Therefore, when they have to adjust to a new professional, it is sometimes hard. In this case, viewers may find that they don’t like the delivery style of Williams’ replacement. This will cause them to look elsewhere until they find one they like.

The public places celebrities at a much higher standard than an ordinary person. If an ordinary person were to make the same mistake Williams did, it wouldn’t be such a nationwide announcement. In the Williams’ situation, not only does the company suffer, but Williams will likely have a hard time in the future to gain the following he had up to this point. If he does not return to NBC, his career options are not near as abundant as they were before this incident. Companies will be hesitant to hire him since he is a public figure. He is too popular and well-known for people to forget this mishap. He is also fodder for comedians, social media attacks, and much more. Further, his popularity makes his mistake seep into other areas of his life, including personal aspects. Recently, his daughter announced the postponement of her wedding date due to the high publicity. Also, Williams resigned from the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation Board of Directors. In addition, the incident will cost him lawyer fees to defend his career.

Overall, Williams’ value declines significantly in light of his public misrepresentation of a serious news story.

Five Ways Social Media Affects Celebrity Value

Social media is one of the biggest advertising methods for businesses today. In fact, according to The CMO Survey, a top marketing survey used to forecast marketing trends, social media will experience a 126% increase in marketing spend over the next five years. It is literally becoming a social expectation. Even the Motion Picture Academy promotes the use of social media to get its audience more involved with the Oscar ceremony. In fact, everything from sports organizations to businesses to charities use social media to reach a bigger audience. This is why it is also becoming more popular among celebrities.

While social media is the biggest marketing trend and one of the largest ways to attract an audience, it also has its downfalls. What can often be a benefit may also be a major pitfall. The following lists five ways that social media improves and decreases value for celebrities.

1. Exposure. The more celebrities stay in the public eye, the more fans remember them. In turn, they gain more fans and job opportunities. For these reasons, publicity remains a big deal for celebrities. Since social media is such a popular aspect in the lives of everyday people, it’s a natural choice for marketers to tap into. However, celebrities sometimes run the risk of overexposure. If a celebrity uses social media to the extreme and frequently reports mundane events, followers tend to become bored or will seek someone more interesting to follow.

2. Accessibility. Social media makes celebrities seem more accessible. Typically, celebrities seem unreachable to the average person. However, social media allows celebrities to interact with fans and reveal their personal thoughts on issues or their own lives. This makes fans feel as if celebrities are just like us. Rather than being paid to promote a product, social media leaves the impression that the celebrity is making his or her own decisions.

However, accessibility also makes celebrities more vulnerable. Unflattering pictures, angry responses, and incorrect information can go viral in an instant. These seemingly minor instances can wreak havoc on a celebrity’s career or life. For instance, Courtney Love has been sued twice for Twitter posts. For one, she had to pay a $430,000 settlement fee. Justine Sacco, former PR director for InterActive Corp., tweeted about visiting Africa and hoping to not catch AIDs. Her facetious tweet helped dub her as the most hated woman on Twitter. A year later, she claims that tweet ruined her life.

3. Credibility. Celebrities can use social media to prove their credibility. They can show that they are genuine and understand their followers. They can answer questions, verify information, or provide sneak peeks to their latest project. However, social media can also discredit a celebrity’s credibility. For instance, celebrities who have voiced their opinions, created fights, or made fleeting comments meant to be humorous have had to apologize for tweets or justify their responses. When they have to rephrase or recant a statement, they lose credibility. It leaves followers to question the celebrity’s motive or what the celebrity truly is about.

4. Promotion. In the United States, hundreds of thousands of adults use the Internet. Among them, approximately 74% use social media. This makes social media a perfect opportunity for celebrities to promote their latest movie, song, and more. It’s also a good place to promote charities they support. Michael J. Fox has had great success using social media to raise awareness for Parkinson’s disease through the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

While social media provides a great place to promote a brand, celebrities must be willing to share personal insights. Therefore, they should find a balance between personal and professional information. While fans and followers typically enjoy a celebrity’s work, they also want the personal touch.

5. Discovery. Social media has provided a channel to introduce new talent that may have never been discovered otherwise. For instance, Justin Bieber was discovered on YouTube and is one of the biggest celebrities of our time. Social media provides a very public forum to showcase talent. However, if the public does not approve of the talent, it could become a humiliating experience.

As you can see, social media can increase a celebrity’s value in a number of ways. However, these same factors that can increase value can also decrease value. Therefore, celebrities must take social media seriously, carefully, and tactfully in order to get the full benefits from it. Otherwise, one small misstep could become viral in an instant.