Miley Cyrus’ recent MTV Video Music Awards (VMA) performance with Robin Thicke may remind some of the open-mouthed moments when Elvis Presley first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show. There was risqué, tight-fitting clothing that was outside the norm for her typical audience and exceeding fashion boundaries. Dance moves with lots of gyrating hips. Numerous innuendos and shocked faces. A large foam hand. (Ok, this is certainly the wildcard in the comparison, but you get the idea.)
In many ways, the response has been equally as electric as when the King shocked Americans on the black and white tube. Twitter feeds and Facebook posts about Miley’s performance blew past any previous VMA social media activity; it’s still a sizzling topic of social chatter, blogs and responses from celebrities, parenting groups, Disney Channel fans and loads of other audiences.
Two camps are forming. For one, she abandoned her loyal Disney tweens, throwing family values completely out the window to a vicious wave of negative backlash. According to the other camp, she is growing up, expressing her sexuality and reaching out for a newer, more grown-up audience, so deal with it, people.
Let’s consider reputation management for a moment. How will Miley clean up reputation damage following the VMAs?
- She could arrange high-profile television interviews with major journalists to explain that she’s exploring a new side of herself and acknowledge that she may have offended some viewers and fans with the performance. She could include an official apology for any younger viewers, while still holding onto her personal decision to show the world she’s a woman of age, not a child.
- Miley could utilize her upcoming movie, in which she also leaves behind previous Disney Channel roles, as further leverage for her diverse range of artistic talent. She can accomplish this by shifting social media and news attention to her career as an artist who is still exploring new avenues.
- Miley could stick with the new message she’s created for herself, embracing it with music and appearances that may sell more albums and make more money. It may raise an eyebrow – or several million eyebrows – but it’s her style, her way, her career and her money – a tone we see echoed historically across the rock ‘n’ roll genre. She never claimed to be a children’s musician; there are plenty of those playing at birthday parties. She could demonstrate to audiences that she can be a little rock, little pop, rap, urban or hipster – and children and teens don’t have to be exposed to her type of … creativity … unless they turn on MTV.
She might make a lot more money now. And that’s her job as a rock star, right?
If your business has raised some eyebrows or surprised audiences by moving into a new realm, let Axia Public Relations help you manage or repair your reputation and your brand. There’s very little out there that can’t be helped by some strong, savvy PR.
by Jason Mudd, APR
Jason Mudd, APR, is the CEO of Axia Public Relations and an Emmy-Award-winning accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author and entrepreneur. His public relations portfolio includes work for established national brands such as American Airlines, Dave & Buster’s, Florida Blue, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Ray Charles and Verizon and emerging brands like Brightway Insurance, Pragmatic Works and It Works! Global.
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