Comedian Bill Cosby has as much chance restoring his reputation as a slab of Jello does surviving a clutch of famished five-year-olds.
He’s toast. As he should be. The only question is when will a district attorney find the guts and gumption to turn the Cosby story from a daily cable TV horror show into a criminal prosecution.
There has been discussion of what, if anything, Cosby can do to “survive” this crisis. While some well-meaning experts suggest the rules of crisis management, Cosby’s in too deep, for too long, with too many allegations against him, to survive.
The facts of the cases are one thing; the perception is even worse, if that’s possible. Cosby will suffer even more because his reality is the extreme opposite of his persona. Cliff Huxtable and the hilarious comedian could not be further from the truth of an alleged serial rapist who his accusers say used his celebrity and connections to prey on unsuspecting women — some of whom no doubt believed him to actually be a funny, friendly, upstanding, fatherly type in a bad sweater.
Thanks to Eric Mower for flagging a link to a PR Week piece by Ron Anderson that discusses what a brand can do when its spokesperson turns villain. Cosby, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Tonya Harding David Letterman, Paula Deen, and a host of others went from hero to scoundrel in a matter of days, posing immense problems for the brands paying these celebs to promote them.
And in some cases, the most effective responses work. Get the facts out fast; be complete; demonstrate total transparency; sit down for interviews with no rules and answer every question until the reporters fall to the ground, worn out by the asking; apologize and take responsibility. All good.
But in this crisis, none of that is going to help. Cosby’s done.
The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs and Crisis and Reputation Management at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the East. Learn more about EMA at mowerpr.com/crisisready. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.