Confess rather than be shamed

Confession is often preferable to exposure when reputation is threatened. It puts its subject on the front foot by making the potentially scandalous revelations appear voluntary rather than forced.

Ian Monk
Ian Monk

Equally it affords the PRO involved the position of broker rather than respondent, facilitating a choice of who should break the scandal and cloaking it in contrition.

It can even be possible to negotiate terms whereby reprehensible conduct is accompanied by soulfully on-message headlines. Take, for instance, the Mail on Sunday offering a week ago: ‘I took drugs and I’m ashamed reveals heavenly soprano Katherine Jenkins.’

As a headline it had everything. Drugs, shame, heaven and talent. All encompassed by the key word ‘reveals’, signalling exclusivity for the newspaper and the idea of a voluntary confession.

The attitude that Middle Britain, home to Jenkins’ fan base, was intended to take to Piers Morgan’s clever exclusive was further signposted at the start of the copy. It referred gushingly to the prodigiously gifted Jenkins, her new £6m record deal and her zealous desire to warn others of the perils of the cocaine and ecstasy that she had once used.

Just imagine instead that the story had been broken by the News of the World, as a result of, hypothetically, an ex-boyfriend dishing the dirt for money.

‘Katherine’s drug shame’ would have been the best-scenario headline, along with a raucous sex, drugs and rock and roll text. In fact, it has been suggested that exposure may indeed have been at hand for Forces’ sweetheart and family favourite Jenkins.

If that is the case, then her media advisers may indeed reflect on a remarkable job done. They could even consider that she has emerged as a more bankable star and role model, likely to sell even more records for her new label. The PR team, though, will need to be confident that they have covered off all potential future revelations. Assuming all is now revealed, it surely cannot be long before we see the sainted Jenkins working with an anti-drugs charity.


Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun

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