In more than 20 years of professional PR counseling, I’ve yet to tell a client to utter the words, “No Comment” to the press. It’s akin to saying, “I’m guilty” or “I have something to hide” in the world of public perception. However, today, I am coining a new term, “Pulling a Charlie Sheen,” which leads me to my inevitable conclusion.  If I were Charlie Sheen’s publicist–oh, that’s right, he just quit–I would tell him to simply keep his mouth shut. Whenever he does open it, he inserts his foot. Many American’s enjoy watching celebrity meltdowns on television or listening to their rants on talk radio – heck, even media sites like TMZ.com make a business out of provoking celebrities to anger in ambush interviews and paparazzi style photo opportunities. As a public relations teacher, we’ve enjoyed discussing the escapades of Charlie Sheen for the purpose of examining what not to do in a crisis PR scenario. It was actually a midterm assignment for my students. His story has all the earmarks of a disaster in the making. In fact, I would go so far as to say it is a disaster every day. What more do the students say? I will give every student in class 50 extra credit points if any of their blog comments to this post gets picked up by a national news outlet before our final exam on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. Sorry Charlie! Coincidentally, a USA Today article here http://content.usatoday.com/communities/entertainment/post/2011/03/charlie-sheen-this-could-be-my-final-interview-/1 quotes him as saying that yesterday’s radio call-in rant could be his last. I nearly fell out of my chair laughing in disbelief. If you believe that, I’ve got a great at-home drug rehab program for you.

21 thoughts on “Charlie Sheen: The Ultimate PR Crisis

  1. Well, for the one hour that interview probably lasted, Charlie Sheen seemed like he had his head screwed on right. If Charlie Sheen stopped talking, he would no longer be in the press. His “I don’t care” attitude seen through his comments (obviously on top of his behavior) is what got him so deep into the press in the first place. Sheen should be done interviewing; it would save him the time for having to TRY to find someone that would even want to represent him now. He has dug a whole so deep that I believe is too late to get out of. Yes Charlie, grab the zipper and shut your mouth. Throw the key away while you are still feeling sane.

  2. People love watching the disaster that is Charlie Sheen, while the media’s attention adds fuel to his destructive behavior. It is hard to find one good quality about Charlie Sheen, other than he is entertaining. He has lost his grip on life and is lashing out because of it. Sheen has become desperate and now is pathetically trying to claw his way back by his “apologies” and his attempts to get people to feel sorry for him… As mentioned in class, for an extreme case such as Charlie Sheen, no amount of PR will fix this. He needs to be fixed first, which could take a lot longer than the amount of patience producers have. It will take a while for people to forgive the arrogant, mediocre actor.

  3. Contrary to most people, I really like Charlie Sheen. He definitely has a problem with drugs, but most celebrities have one. I like his bad boy image, of who doesn’t care about what people think.
    That’s my personal opinion, but I agree that for someone to accept to work as a PR for Charlie Sheen, he needs to have balls (even too much). There is no easy strategy to change the public’s image. A lot of people hates Charlie Sheen, because of his numerous, intolerable behaviors, and I feel sorry for that because I’m sure that with some work from Charlie’s part, this bad boy image could be perceived in a good way by the public. From the beginning of his career, with an effective PR strategy and if Charlie was less unforgivable in all his actions, he could have been the favorite bad boy of America. The problem is that he already went too far, and it might means that regaining his public is a lost cause. Charlie’s statement about the possibility of this interview be the last one is a desperate act to try to win the sympathy of someone. He is probably realizing that nobody will accept to help his career anymore, and he is scared of that. I see his interview as a desperate call from him, because he realized that it’s his last chance.

  4. At this point, it’s good for Charlie to be quiet. He pasted a point of no return and there is no room for damage control. He has become a very desperate man to try and clean up his image by saying his “apologies” but it’s too late. He needs to start taking care of himself and worry about his own health rather than doing all of these interviews. It’s very sad to see how drugs can consume someone’s life. One day you have it all, then the next it’s gone before you know it. Unfortunately people are very judgmental and most likely never look at Charlie Sheen the same way so he needs to just focus on himself. No amount of PR can fix what has already happened, at this point in time it would just be nice to see him overcome this drug battle.

  5. Charlie “the warlock” Sheen has a hard time keeping his mouth shut because he knows the public is attracted to his persona. We eat up his ridiculous words, as long as we can hear/watch it from afar, because really, no one wants to deal with that mess up close. For those that want to, they get to live his over the top lifestyle vicariously through his antics.

    Let’s not be hypocrites, regardless of his poor mental state, Sheen does enjoy what many people consider a fabulous life: he’s rich, he has a fun job, goes on spur of the moment vacations, has lots of sex and gets to party and do lots of blow. Sounds like a Portland hipster dream to me, just sayin’.

    Sheen is probably just like a million other wealthy, self-indulgent, drug-addled egomaniacs; the only difference is his excess and need to brag about his “winning” lifestyle. Let’s just leave him alone and maybe he’ll go away. I will do my part by never posting about “him” again.

    What we really need to do is work on the society that allows, no, encourages people to become like this, but that’s another discussion for another time.

  6. Several weeks back I would have advised Charlie Sheen to lay low and avoid all media if possible. This would have been effective because we all expect Charlie to misbehave from time-to-time; unfortunately he has gone so far that simply shutting his mouth at this point won’t work. There’s so much content out there that now he doesn’t even need to say anything more for the media to have material to make a piece on him. If he would start releasing innocuous comments maybe that would help sway the balance of the coverage of him, as of now it is all very provocative.

  7. I have to admit that I can’t seem to stop watching Charlie Sheen’s shame train. It is like watching something horrible that you know you should look away, but you just can’t.

    I am also in the same boat as a few other commenters’ in how I feel that pleading the fifth would be a mistake. He has been so open about his life that if he stopped the conversation now people would just assume he had something much worse to hide and the rumor mill would take over. Although I wouldn’t recommend this specific conversation, it is still one that he seems to be in charge of.

    His pop culture status has reached an all time high. People are making whole clothing lines, websites, and other small businesses just from the one-liners that have come from his crazed interviews. I don’t see a come back to One and a Half Men, but I do see reality TV in his future.

    I myself would love to see a Sheen comeback and I think the world will forgive him his misdeeds eventually… pending something truly horrible happening.

  8. Listening to Charlier rant, and convince himself that he is in “control”, it’s clear in my mind he is most certainly is not in control. Most recovering addicts that have been interviewed and asked by the media about their opinions about Charlie, say that his rants sound much like their own and they too were confident that they were in control of their addiction. Charlie’s PR person quit on him, because he was too much to work with, but what the PR person didn’t understand, is that he is trying to cover up the symptoms of Charlie, and not addressing the real problem which is his addiction. I dont think the PR person’s first step in fixing Charlie’s image was to MAKE DAMN sure Charlie actually completed or benefited from his drug and alcohol rehabilitation program

  9. Regrettably, the American public loves a dramatic, boisterous, train wreck. Enter: Charlie Sheen. What better way to lift the American spirit than to give them an example of self-induced pity, and an opportunity to re-frame their own circumstances and shortcomings.

    1. I agree with you Laura. American public do loves this stuff. I’ve been hearing and reading Charlie Sheen name all over the place such as radio, TV channel, News, tweets, and many other media. This is like the celebrity flavour of the month. The media is making fun of him in every way which is a shame for him. I also read that they fired him from “Two and Half Men” show recently!
      I suggest for Charlie Sheen to disappear for a while (real while) and stop showing himself to the media or working. I’m sure he got a lot of money to live several years.

  10. #fastball a whopping 2,837,318 tweeters are following the one and only Charlie Sheen.

    This is more publicity than Sheen has had in the last 10 years, there is no way he is giving it up now. Until the public officially shuns him and his irresponsible lifestyle by putting down the gossip mags, changing the channel and not responding to tweets… I’m pretty sure he will continue to “ride the wave” as long as possible.

  11. So the Tsunami and earthquakes in Japan only knocked Charlie out of the media for about a day. Evidently Charlie is taking his rants on tour with a live show called “Violent Torpedoes of Truth.” I can’t think of a lunatic addict that’s had this much exposure to the public since Ed McMahon. What I think is even more impressive about hurricane Charlie’s rampage of destruction is that he is actually able to top the inane nature of the television program that helped relaunch his career. I mean Two and a Half Men was the kind of show that made me ashamed to be an American. I have no idea why it was a highly rated show. I have seen parts of the show while flipping through and I just don’t get it. Perhaps the show is so bad it’s good, like many of the Jon Cryer movies from the 80s, or Showgirls. But this new Charlie show has even more power than Showgirls, fewer boobs and dancing girls, believe it or not, but it has that same horrible power to grab you even though it’s absolutely abhorrent and you know if will end badly, you just can’t quite grab the remote and make it stop.

  12. Charlie sheen is a great actor with phenomenal personalities. You can’t really think of words to describe him. Although I think he is addicted to the media but I don’t like the way that he presenting him self! I have seen a lot of celebrities have been facing troubles over and over often they handle the situation so well by using specific techniques to solve their problem. But what can you say business is business this is how Charlie makes his living/money being on the spot all the time and make people talk about him frequently to build his empire in a unique way, by creating problems and try to show the world that he doesn’t care about anything. In The other hand, i think he is smarter than you think and he knows what he’s doing, i personally admire his shows and enjoy watching him.

  13. I think that this is to be expected from a character such as Sheen. He is only doing what he always has. Sheen has gained his popularity through portraying a gambling, binge drinking prostitute user on his show. Now everybody wants to freak out and make a big deal of the situation when Sheen goes to far. I think hes right when he says “Im winning” because really he is. He’s probably going to write some ridiculous book about all of this and make a boatload of cash through manipulating the media.

  14. One of my favorite show of all time would be Two and Half Man with Charlie Sheen. We all know that Hollywood celebrities are all about publicity stunt to capture people attention. Charlie Sheen case i think he used this crazy character act to see what people reaction would be. I think now America audience wanna watch the latest drama in celebrities private life. In Charlie Sheen ideal life of partying and hooking up with hookers, would actually bring his fame back to people, but in the other hand it actually made stupid to some viewers. I think shutting his mouth would be the right answer if i wan Charlie Sheen shoes.

    1. I agree with you on the fact that celebrities are all about publicity and getting their name among fans, but that does not mean that he chose the last character to increase his fans. I believe celebrity’s life is more complicated than what it seems like it is.

  15. I think that regardless of whether Charlie Sheen had a publicist or a PR representative, it would not have made a difference. When he first started exploding there was no way he was going to stop, I think between the drugs and the fame, he felt like no matter what he did, he was unstoppable. Two and Half Men replacing him may have been the final response he needed to check himself though, the show that he thought could not continue without him went ahead and did. I personally think the show isn’t the same without Charlie, however, the only funny part about the show were his drunken antics, and it was funny in real life as well. There’s no doubt i laughed at his expense for a while.

  16. I think that the best thing that Charlie can do at this point is make no more comments. He has been in the public eye and has done enough speaking for at least the next two years. Sometimes the best PR advice is to lay low and let everything blow over becuase the public will forgive over time. Charlie may have a future ahead of him but for now he needs to work on his tarnished reputation. As for “winning”, if thats what his is doing i want no part in it.

  17. Celebrities and their tantrums……. tsk tsk tsk……They just don’t seem to learn. One would assume celebrities would learn from the public tantrums and scandals of other celebrities but NOOOOO. They just seem to find new ways to top the tantrum of the last celebrity. The Culkin’s, The Baldwin’s, The Fox’s, have all had their share of public scandals and tantrums; giving regular society a front row seat into the key hole of their child like, self righteous, rich, spoiled, brat-like personalities…………..Somehow they all make a come back.

    Is it society’s forget and forgive nature towards celebrities? Is it the shadowy, powerful, invisible hands of the exec-wizards of Hollywood micro managing the story out of the media? Is PR genius at its best? Is it the next celebrity in line topping the scandal of the last?

    Regardless they all make a comeback and we act like it never happened…. BUT Charlie Sheen found a way to bank on his tantrum both financially and with brand image and though it is unethical, it is still great PR.

    The Sheen family are no strangers to public scandal; they have had plenty of practice. Martin Sheen, Emelio Estevez, Charlie Sheen have all had their boxing rounds in the public eye; isn’t the old saying “practice makes perfect”. If I’m not mistaken the only movies Charlie sheen was making before his ABC tantrum were the comedy spoofs “scary movie” series. Though he was getting the big checks his career as a serious actor was long forgotten in the 80’s and early 90’s. The Charlie Sheen of ABC was killed during the tantrum and transformed into the viral outlaw we see today; I guess that’s one way to change your brand image.

    Now Charlie Sheen has a fork in the road to consider. He can either continue down his path of viral-self destructiveness and expand his society provoking brand. Or he can lay low for a lime-light minute and make a mature comeback with hope that he can re-spark the career he once had in the 80’s and 90’s

  18. Charlie sheen is a PR nightmare without a doubt! But- any tv or movie he stars in, people will continue to watch.
    A long as this guy continues to be ok making fun of himself, his ratings will follow. What’s entertaining about charlie sheen is he just makes a mockery of himself….not so much of others…the minute that changes he won’t be near as entertaining to watch.

  19. He its already back to some degree. there was a recent TV ad with him and the tag line was something like, “you don’t want reenact scenes of Platoon with Charlie Sheen.”

    People love a good redemption story and the bigger the fall the bigger the comeback. If his PR team is any good they already have the next five years of celebrity rehab planned out.

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