Word is spreading that Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli, who are accused of paying bribes to get their daughter into USC, now are shopping for a crisis litigation PR expert to resurrect her image.
We are not among the firms contacted, and Loughlin’s publicist denies the report. However, two crisis PR firms, who chose to remain anonymous, told CNN they were called to discuss public relations strategies because Loughlin is quite upset that all the news about her is about the scandal and not her career.
Whether this is real or fake news, both firms said they turned down working for Loughlin. And for good reason. When someone is faced with criminal charged – charges that could result in jail time – a career should take second place to beating the case. It won’t do much good to have a great image while in prison.
The example that is commonly cited for a celebrity image resurrection is Martha Stewart. Stewart was convicted of a stock fraud scheme and served time in prison. She did her time, her company continued without her, and when she was released she picked up where she left off. Today, few remember or care that she is a convicted felon.
Since Loughlin pleaded not guilty, rather than guilty as the others did, the government added charges of money laundering and hence potentially more time in prison if convicted. This could be legal maneuvering or maybe denial, but in any event, it doesn’t look good for Loughlin and Giannulli.
So let’s take a look into the future. Suppose she does prison time (unlikely as it is) and after a year or so gets released. Can she pick up the pieces of her acting career? Already since the indictment she has lost her Hallmark contract and other acting jobs. She is essentially “Hollywood toxic” as of now. Her daughter, Olivia Jade lost most if not all of her sponsors for her YouTube channel. But she is young and Loughlin claims she didn’t know of the scam. Time will tell.
If Loughlin goes to prison, her first task will be to write a book. It will be a tell all book about “doing the right thing” and how to succeed after a major setback. This, if she admits wrongdoing, and that’s a big question. Then, the release of her book will be timed with her release from prison so she can make the talk circuit rounds. She’ll do The View, Colbert, 60 Minutes. The usual round. She will talk about what she has learned and how it made her a stronger person.
For those of us in the crisis PR business, there is a template for re-creating an image. There are limits, such as heinous crimes that can’t be forgiven, but most celebrities are the white collar sort of criminals. People forgive and forget, especially if they were not hurt personally.
There is no doubt Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman will land on their feet, sooner or later. Fortunately for them they have the financial means to stick it out, buy the best lawyers and pay the bills. The lasting mark will be on the internet, on their Wikipedia pages that will note their transgressions but it is more likely than not that if they do time, they will resume their lives with the help of professional crisis PR experts.