How Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman can recover from the cheating scandal

How Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman can recover from the cheating scandal

Television stars Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, along with dozens of other millionaires, college athletic coaches and ACT proctors, have been charged in what is quickly becoming known as the “college admissions bribery scandal.”

Both of the TV darlings allegedly paid thousands of dollars to fake test scores and disguise their children as athletes in order to gain access to prestigious schools. Huffman was arrested and appeared in court on Tuesday, while Loughlin has been taken into custody by the FBI.

While several people in Hollywood have come out in support of the stars, most notably David Mamet, the charges have placed an unenviable spotlight on the two women. Criticism has reached a fever pitch over the past few days, with an array of disparaging images of the women online, and a relentless wave of tweets mocking them.

So, how can Loughlin and Huffman recover and revive their reputations?

Here’s how they can Fix It according to Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR agency.

Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR agency 
Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR agency 

“No comment” is a no go

Imagine you arrive home late, and when your spouse asks you where you’ve been, you respond with “no comment.”

If it wouldn’t work at home, it won’t work in public. While “no comment” may seem strategic on the surface, it can actually be perceived as an admission of guilt. When it comes to saving a career following a public scandal, controlling the controversy and coming out with a statement should be the first priority. Within their legal limits, Loughlin and Huffman need to be honest with the public, and they need to do it sooner rather than later. Staying silent will only hurt them in the long run.

Take it on the chin

There is a propensity for celebrities to fight against the crisis they’re facing and swim against the public current. While there is validity in claiming innocence, it is important to remember the timing of this message. Considering the charges presented against Loughlin and Huffman, it is important that they appear humble and willing to listen.

Care should always be taken not to come across as defensive. There is a fine balance between working to regain trust and coming off as insincere. If the public doesn’t feel they are being heard, the apology won’t work.

There are two courts at play when it comes to celebrity crisis – the court of law and the court of public opinion. Both matter very much. That said, a bad day in court is a lot worse than a bad day in the newspaper.

Spin solutions

Everyone makes mistakes. It is not always the mistake that harms the celebrity’s brand—it’s the response. That being said, when a crisis occurs, it is important to quickly find a solution for it. Regardless of the problem, Loughlin and Huffman, with some professional guidance, need to find a solution that helps remedy the crisis.

That said, this is a relatively small crisis from a brand and PR perspective. Their careers can certainly go on after this incident. This is different from Jussie Smollett or R. Kelly’s crisis situations. Both of their careers are over.  For Loughlin and Huffman, however, this can be a part of their obituary – but it doesn’t need to be the defining moment of their careers.

Guide the narrative

In the age we live in, everything becomes known eventually, so it’s better to confront the situation and try to guide the narrative. When a crisis strikes, as it almost inevitably does for public figures, transparency and disclosure is key.

PR is what can make a drastic difference between a minor mishap and a career-halting nightmare. Remember, it wasn’t too long ago that Martha Stewart was incarcerated. Public images, like houseware, can be fixed.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR agency

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