Andy Warhol saw it coming. More than forty years ago the iconic artist and philosopher predicted a world in which, “everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.” Guess what—that future is now.
Never before have reputations been created and lost so quickly. Never before has an, “average Joe” had such a chance to reach the heights and depths in so record a time, and on such a public stage.
We’re attracted to attention like moths to a flame. We see how it can boost careers, make people millions of dollars and seemingly, make dreams come true. But, like the moth, we sense danger lurks and the closer we get to the flame, the greater the chance that we may get burned.
Publicity, fame, attention, recognition—these are powerful tools. In my thirty-plus years of working in the public relations and communications worlds I have seen the good it can do. I have helped people get their messages out. Some have made amazing career advances; many have built smart, profitable businesses; others have changed the world by calling attention to wrongs, curing diseases or teaching the world to be more accepting of our differences.
But I have seen the other side too. I have helped people burdened with unspeakable woes. Some have been tarnished by scandals of worldwide proportions; others have been victims of crimes and heinous acts; still others have uttered a wrong word in a heated moment and become poster children for bad behavior; some have made mistakes and been caught; and for others, accusations, true or otherwise, have put them through unbelievable pain and sorrow.
The circumstances were different in every situation. Yet, in virtually every case, the right communications made the situation better if not perfect. For those trying to better themselves, PR was able to facilitate their ascension. It got their messages out cheaper, better, faster, more efficiently and hopefully, without backlash. And for those in pain, I tried to lessen their public humiliation, control the damage and get them back on their feet quicker so they could continue on with their lives and careers.