Even if you weren’t a huge Kelly Price fan when she hit it big in the 90s, you may have become one back in 2011. She started the year off with a hit record with R&B’s Mint Condition, “Not My Daddy”. A year later, she found herself in the spotlight following Whitney Houston’s untimely death when it was revealed that the two had performed a duet just two days prior at Kelly’s pre-Grammy celebration.
For the next few days, Kelly was the media’s go-to girl and she handled it well. Having been more than just a colleague of Whitney’s, Kelly was everywhere sharing her personal stories about their friendship. Even though Whitney’s drug abuse was no secret, just hearing that she had someone to hang out with who really had her back was refreshing. They could relate as “church girls,” Kelly said.
That “on a roll, sister girl, I got your back” Kelly Price,” was who most of us expected to see when the spin off to the hit show “R&B Divas Atlanta” premiered in July. But after just four episodes of “R&B Divas L.A.” starring Kelly Price, Chante’ Moore, Lil’ Mo, Dawn Robinson, Michel’le and Claudette Ortiz, it was clear that Kelly Price’s image was in big trouble.
How Kelly went from being portrayed as the Christian mentor to women on the show to the villain referred to in headlines like “Diva Threatens Violence with Her Straightedge,” is a question she must be asking herself.
Even after she began an attempt at damage control by explaining just how scripted “R&B Divas” (like most reality shows) really is, she seemed to be fighting an uphill battle.
It was tough for a video to undo the damage social media had done to her reputation.
In her defense, Kelly said she owns what she did on camera but also revealed that much of her anger was aimed at the production staff of the show who continuously tried to get her to do things she wouldn’t go along with, like setting up a surprise meeting with Chante Moore and her ex-husband, Kenny Lattimore.
The problem is that most people want to believe she is the Kelly Price they’ve seen on camera for the last few weeks, and that’s the most reality for her.
The moral of the story is reality shows aren’t for everyone, especially those who already have a brand to protect.
Omarosa and NeNe had nothing to lose when they were presented to the world as larger-than-life characters.
Because they were unknown factors, they have been able to profit in a big way by becoming the people the reality show created. Kelly Price wasn’t in that position. She’d already reached celebrity status and had an image that her public bought and now she’s fighting hard to regain it.
Here are five rules of damage control that might help Kelly and others who are caught in a storm of bad publicity:
1. Be transparent – It’s better to tell the whole truth and let the public process it all at once than tell a little here and there.
2. Don’t push back – It’s just human nature to be defensive when we’re receiving criticism, but in reality it just makes us look worse. Name-calling, eye rolling and finger pointing play right into our opponent’s hands.
3. Have Clear and Concise Talking Points – Don’t respond with a scripted message, but don’t change your message for each interview either. If you own your mistake, as Kelly did, then REALLY own it. Don’t then turnaround and blame other people for your failures once you think people aren’t looking.
4. Get out there – One of Kelly’s mistakes was to allow cast mates Chante Moore and Lil Mo to get their sides of the story out ahead of her. By the time Kelly made her case, the public had defined her as the problem.
5. Don’t Always Take the High Road – Once you’re out there go with what you know, Saying, “the real truth will come out later” is noble but not advisable.
Let’s hope Kelly can shed the “mean Christian,” image as she takes on her next venture, “Too Fat for Fame,” a reality show that looks for the next “plus size” superstar.
Her real fans, friends and family will continue to root for and support Kelly because they already want the best for her. But there’s another group of people who love to see the worst in us revealed. Damage control doesn’t erase a bad situation, but it can help the public move on to the next thing.
How good are you at protecting your brand? How do your co-workers, bosses and clients perceive you? Will other celebrities learn something from Kelly Price’s media misstep? Let me know your thoughts.