4 PR Tips for Making a Comeback After a Scandal

Every day there seems to be a new scandal seizing the media’s attention. Former Rep. Katie Hill’s recent scandal caused her to resign from her congressional seat only ten months into her term. Her continued activity in the political limelight has inspired conversation over how exactly you should address scandals when you’re in the public view. The Washington Examiner asked On The Marc Media CEO Marc Silverstein for his expert opinion on how to handle public comebacks after scandals.

As PR practitioners, scandals are something we hope to avoid but have to be adaptable and prepared to handle if they arise. It’s important not just to think in the moment and control the immediate fallout of the scandal, but to think toward the future as well and prepare for the possibility of a reemergence in the public eye. Hill’s case is not the first time we’ve seen a political officer caught in the headlights of scandal nor, unfortunately, will it be the last. Silverstein told the Washington Examiner that the best way to handle a scandal is to lay low and wait for a well-timed comeback.  

Social media allows a large quantity of information to be given to the public at one time. So much in fact, that it has created an environment where the public’s attention is always being redirected to a new topic. Given enough time, the public outrage from one scandal will die down and transfer over to the next. However, Hill getting into Twitter skirmishes with former colleagues is a losing tactic, said Silverstein. All she’s doing is reminding people of the scandal and having it used against her. While she’s laying low, Silverstein recommends she repositions herself as a thought leader. “Write an op-ed about what she got right and wrong about her resignation. Even better, write or talk about the actual issues that got her elected.”

Waiting for public fallout to blow over and making your reemergence as a thought leader is a tactic often used. The best tactics should be tailored to each individual. Looking back at the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, Monica Lewinksy followed the same tactic. Her name carried a cultural ubiquitousness to it. It’s a reference in songs and a punch line in jokes, even after 20 years. However, she was able to take that and make an expansive career in retail, advertising, and most recently social advocacy. 

4 Tips for a PR Comeback:

  1. Disappear for a while: earn a living, enjoy some free time, learn a new hobby. Take time for yourself.
  2. Wait for your moment.
  3. Become a thought leader: Write op-eds, make speeches, get booked on podcasts, etc. 
  4. Get a good PR firm to help place your contributor pieces in newspapers/blogs/Medium.


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