We’ve written recently about how much entertainment PR has changed because of the Internet. But it’s not just digital channels prompting these dramatic changes.
George Clooney, his fiancée and her family became the center of a tabloid story published in The Daily Mail that alleged the mother of Amal Alamuddin was so unhappy with her daughter’s choice for a husband that she’s joking about traditions in the Druze religion that would result in the death of the bride.
These days, when a celebrity wants to refute a rumor, they tend to take to a Facebook page or a Twitter account. In this case, Clooney went straight to traditional media with a full column. USA Today is online, but it’s the colorful newspaper that appears at your hotel room door that we probably most associate with the title.
That Clooney chose that paper to publish his column is certainly a big get for them. But it also speaks to the ways in which the relationship between celebrities and the media continues to change.
The column starts definitively: The Daily Mail’s article isn’t true.
“If they fabricate stories of Amal being pregnant, or that the marriage will take place on the set of Downton Abbey, or that I’m running for office, or any number of idiotic stories that they sit at their computers and invent, I don’t care,” he says. “But this lie involves larger issues. The irresponsibility, in this day and age, to exploit religious differences where none exist, is at the very least negligent and more appropriately dangerous. We have family members all over the world, and the idea that someone would inflame any part of that world for the sole reason of selling papers should be criminal.”
The Daily Mail has since removed the article and apologized. Clooney, was, of course, allowed to go back to USAT to say that he doesn’t accept that apology.
The way in which he has responded to the story shows how much power George Clooney’s celebrity wields. That he can arrange to write something for a national newspaper to debunk a rumor is a huge PR move. That it got USAT more than one million page views shows that his message is reaching a broad audience. It’s also interesting that rather than going around the media the way that Kimye’s Instagrammed wedding photo does, for example, it goes directly to the system that he feels did him wrong in the first place.
It looks as though celebrities are becoming increasingly comfortable with expressing themselves not through interviews, but through their own published essays that speak to a variety of interests, not just their latest project. They’re not bypassing the media, but rather the reporter. It might not be for everyone. But for someone like George Clooney, who regularly speaks on weighty international topics with knowledge and clarity, this is an avenue that might open up some new media relations possibilities.
This probably won’t hurt The Mail, one iota; it’s audience continues to grow despite dubious stories. But we might see falsehoods fleshed out more often with a published word that comes directly from a celebrity’s pen.