The Big Pitch: How might Whitney Houston go about rehabilitating her public image?

MEMPHIS: An entertainer is like any brand: reputation is paramount, and consistency of product or experience is the key to a strong brand reputation.

Ralph Berry
Mimeo.com
MEMPHIS: An entertainer is like any brand: reputation is paramount, and consistency of product or experience is the key to a strong brand reputation. Whitney needs to demonstrate that the 'brand' her fans learned to trust can still be trusted. She should appear on Letterman, Leno, Conan, King, all the morning shows - and Oprah - and roll with the punches. A high-profile concert for her charity wouldn't hurt, either. Finally, a written apology to her fans and those she has disappointed would go a long way - Americans love apologies. To show her seriousness, the way the apology looks and is delivered is important. It should be sent to key media, Hollywood and music industry opinion leaders, and a special apology with a collection of photos printed and bound should be sent to a few thousand randomly selected fans.

Diane Stefani
Yahoo! Internet Life
NEW YORK: Whitney Houston needs to come to terms with what she wants to be in the eyes of the world: a caring mother who also happens to be incredibly gifted, or the mirror image of her bad-boy husband Bobby Brown. If she wants to be seen in a positive light by the masses, she needs to completely change her life. That could mean going into rehab or into counseling with her husband. If she takes these steps and becomes centered again, my suggestion is that she should hire an image consultant or a PR pro. She should pick someone who will guide her by getting her involved in charities that are near and dear to her. This wouldn't just be for herself, but for her child and the millions of young women who look up to her.

Gerald Schwartz
G.S. Schwartz & Co.
NEW YORK: Whitney Houston's income makes her bigger than most dot-coms. Her recent erratic behavior, however, has caused widespread speculation of substance abuse. If you look at her as a business, there is a serious challenge.

With a corporation, publicists can promote the larger management team, the integrity and reputation of the company as a whole and the firm's products and services. Houston, however, has no team to fall back on, no corporation - she is her own product. Houston must first be honest with her publicists so that they can determine courses of action. Then she must address publicly the allegations - either deny or acknowledge them - and begin taking steps to either show her competence or resolve her problem.

Mike Cherenson
The Cherenson Group
LIVINGSTON, NJ: Whitney Houston is a shining star who has earned a solid reputation for her tremendous talent as well as her strong commitment to family, the music industry and charitable causes. During her career she's built a substantial goodwill reservoir. But now, thanks to a long string of no-shows and mishaps, her star has become tarnished and the reservoir is running dry. To repair her image, she must first assess if a problem truly exists. If so, she needs to deal with her situation and only then can she - and should she - address the question of image. If and when she is ready, the recipe for returning to favor is a simple one: one part honesty, one part openness and three parts hard work. She has to exceed expectations - on stage and off - and be willing to honestly address the issues.

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