As often as stars like Lindsay Lohan are in the public eye, you would expect them to understand how to use better public relations to their benefit. Lohan, for one, clearly has missed out on how to use PR to save her career. While we “normal people” cannot afford to use trial and error to determine what is best for our reputation, we can learn by observing what not to do. Lohan has clearly never had a lesson on good PR, but there are several lessons we can learn about what not to do by observing her. So, live from Lindsay Lohan’s ruined reputation, are the top 5 lessons we can learn from her about PR:
- Number 5: It’s important to separate your private and professional life—As a celebrity, this is a lesson that Lohan has had a hard time learning, partly because being in the public eye makes keeping things private more difficult. However, many celebrities such as Beyoncé and Jay-Z, have gone to extreme lengths to keep their private lives private. Lohan clearly hasn’t gone to such, or any, lengths to keep her private life private, and it has negatively impacted her career.
In the PR world, it is important to know what aspects of your life should not carry over to the workplace. On an eHow blog, journalist and communication specialist Bill Bucy provides several steps on how to achieve this separation. He recommends controlling the amount of private information you offer, not feeling obligated to share because others do, being careful about social relationships with coworkers and evaluating each situation individually. Maintaining this balance can keep you happier and ensures that your workplace interactions are appropriate.
- Number 4: Don’t rely on past success to carry you —Let’s be honest. Aside from negative life choices, Lohan is best known for films of the past. The last film she starred in that became popular was released in 2004. For a young actress, that is quite some time to go without starring in a hit film.
In PR, it is critical to always improve upon your past successes. Think of it as a competition to one-up yourself. The PRSA Code of Ethics includes Expertise, part of which reads, “We advance the profession through continued professional development, research, and education.” It is critical for a PR professional to consistently improve and focus on self-education.
- Number 3: Dress for success —Lohan’s wardrobe choices for court have been far less than professional. Between her tight, white minidress and her revealing tops, Lindsay has made a less-than-good impression while in court.
PR practitioners know that appearance affects how others perceive us. Showing up to an interview or a first day on the job in a revealing or offensive outfit would most likely lose us the job as well as respect. People make judgments about your abilities within your first few minutes of meeting and wearing a conservative suit will get you much farther than showing off your goods.
- Number 2: Take responsibility for your mistakes —While in court, Lohan’s judge said, “I don’t care that you are Lindsay Lohan. This case does involve jail time, period. If you plead in front of me — if this case resolves in front of me — you are going to jail.” Lohan has clearly used her status as a starlet to try to avoid the consequences she deserves. Essentially, this judge told her that it would be better to admit fault than to keep using her name to try to get out of punishment.
In our field, it is important to realize what went wrong after we make a mistake. If you make a mistake, own up to it and do everything in your power to correct it.
- Number 1: Not all publicity is good publicity —Even Lohan is beginning to realize this point. In an interview with Extra she said, “[I want to create] great movies, great films, [and tell] great stories. That’s what I’ve aspired to do my whole life and personal instances in my life got in the way. But, I don’t want that to be known for that anymore.” What Lindsay clearly hasn’t realized is that if you put yourself in situations that raise the public eyebrow, you will be in the news for the bad things.
As PR professionals, we should aim to achieve only good publicity for our clients. Having a client in the news is not worthwhile if it’s a story that could tarnish his reputation.
So before taking risks with your own reputation, consider how far this Disney star has fallen. The transition from “Parent Trap” to trapped behind bars may have been avoided had Lohan kept her own PR in mind.