5 Celebrity Stories That Teach Us the Importance of Reputation Management

Your personal brand and public reputation are important and unfortunately, you only have minimal direct control over your reputation. Only about 16% of first page google results are from sites that the individual or brand has direct control over. So the overwhelming majority are things like Wikipedia and news sources.

Reputation management needs to be priority so that you can make sure you have as much influence as possible over those sources you can’t fully control. If you’re not convinced, check out these 5 stories that reveal the importance of effective reputation management:

#1. Robert Downey, Jr.

Robert Downey Jr.
photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr

In the late 90s, this famous American actor was struggling with a serious drug problem. Repeated arrests and multiple stints in rehab finally led to a 6 month sentence in county jail. Needless to stay, his reputation was destroyed and the public came to see him as unstable and unreliable. He became seen as such a liability that he was getting fired from jobs and losing out on big projects.

Recovering from the disaster was a slow process. First, he had to go to rehab and actually commit to it. Then, he had to accept tight restrictions on new contracts. For example, while working on Gothika, 40% of his salary was withheld until he successfully finished production. But, after 7 years of gradually rebuilding trust in the industry and with the public, he was finally able to land big, blockbuster jobs like Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes.

#2. Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore
photo credit: zuko1312 / Flickr

Like Robert Downey, Jr., Drew Barrymore’s reputation was tarnished by substance abuse. The difference? She started when she was just 9 years old. That’s right. By the age of 9, she had an alcohol problem and by 12, she’d added cocaine. And by 14, she had attempted suicide. This was an extremely dark and troubled childhood that not only damaged her reputation but her mental health.

Recovery from this took a lot of perseverance. At 15, she began to work on her substance abuse while also taking on movie roles with a stronger, more positive image. These roles combined with the determination to overcome her past helped to totally transform her reputation into one of a professional and highly talented actress.

#3. Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart
photo credit: nrkbeta / Flickr

In 2004, Martha Stewart was found guilty of insider trading after selling her stock in ImClone based on information she received illegally. The 5 month prison sentence and 2 years of parole completely contradicted her wholesome reputation as America’s Homemaker.

Fortunately, she had an excellent legal and PR team to help her with reputation management. She was able to overcome this disaster by owning her mistakes and reconstructing her reputation. Today, she is once again making multimillion dollar deals. At Russells, you can find a similar team of experts that help with reputation management.

#4. Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton
photo credit: aterkel / Flickr

This is one of the most famous cases of a reputation management disaster. In 1998, President Clinton was charged with sexual harassment and impeached—the most disgraceful way to leave office. The highly publicized trial haunted him for years.

Through a combination of strategic partnerships and a lot of philanthropic and charity work, he was able to regain a strong and positive reputation.

#5. Mark Sanford

Mark Sanford
photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Another case from the world of politics, Mark Sanford suffered a major scandal after it was found that he was cheating on his wife. Like Clinton, he was also impeached. Unlike Clinton, his wife left him after the affair was revealed. Two years after the scandal, he decided to run for office again. During his campaign, he was open and honest about the affair. As a result, he successfully won a seat in congress.