How should RHEA CHAKRABORTY'S PR TEAM manage her image crisis?

How should Rhea Chakraborty’s PR team manage the image crisis? | #JusticeForSSR

This article is not about the mysterious death of the talented actor, Sushant Singh Rajput. It’s definitely NOT about who is guilty. Instead, this article is about a PR case study in image crisis and aims to set out some tips for PR managers.

The PR Challenge in Rhea’s case:

A lot of air time and article space being given to speculations around the tragic demise of Sushant. A media trial that has already declared Rhea Chakraborty as the prime culprit. The news media has successfully ensured that the public sentiment lies with Sushant’s family. Rhea’s fate is hanging as she the threat of investigations and impeding custodial arrest loom large. Whether or not she is implicated, Rhea Chakraborty’s career, personal and professional life lies in a limbo. Public sentiment is extremely negative towards her and media has already declared her as the culprit in Sushant’s death.

India lost an exceptional talent on June 14, 2020. Sushant Singh Rajput will always rule our hearts.

According to the Wikipedia page, Death of Sushant Singh Rajput:

“On 14 June 2020, Indian actor Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead hanging from the ceiling fan at his home in Bandra, Mumbai, with the cause ruled as suicide. The official postmortem reports concluded that he died of asphyxia due to hanging. The Mumbai Police launched an investigation into the death, which was surrounded by rumours and speculation.” Source: Wikipedia.

Media Circus around this sad incident

We all saw the electronic media swooping down like eagles to “investigate”. Some TV anchors, YouTubers and journalists took on the role of detectives and one saw a flood of TV debates, investigative videos and sting operations that have been doing the rounds. Each person out to grab eyeballs for this high-profile case.

Today, almost every family in India plans dinner time around prime time news channels. Conversations around the ‘latest developments in Sushant Case’ have diverted attention from #COVID19 & other national issues. #JusticeForSSR

How did Rhea get named?

On 25 July, Rajput’s father, K. K. Singh, filed an FIR at Patna, where he lives, against Rhea Chakraborty and six others, including her family members, for abetment of suicide. He also accused them of wrongful restraint, wrongful confinement, theft, criminal breach of trust, and cheating. He alleged in his complaint that Chakraborty cheated Rajput financially and mentally harassed him. On 28 July, India Today reported that Chakraborty had been booked in the case. Source: Wikipedia.

Unison of Fake and Real News

Sushant’s sudden death successfully distracted the audience from the Corona pandemic and Indo-China controversy, many other national issues have been swept under the carpet. Since the incident, the internet and all other platforms are flooded with sensational stories that present their own version of the truth. Audience is now addicted to this topic and engages with it regularly. This has given a chance to rumour mongers to cash in on the wave. Almost every content creator has turned judge and declared their point of view in this case. Mostly blaming Rhea for the untimely demise of the young and talented actor.

The lines between real and fake have blurred, and one doesn’t really know what is the truth anymore. Each person is shouting louder than the other, claiming their beliefs to be right.

Because of the public’s emotions in the Sushant Singh Rajput & Rhea Chakraborty case, fake & real news have combined to act like a deadly potion of cocaine. Public keeps wanting more. #JusticeForSSR #RheaChakraborty

Negative campaign against Rhea

Everything that Rhea does or has been doing is out in the public domain and there seems to be no one from Bollywood who is supporting her. This includes her guide and mentor, Mahesh Bhatt and all her friends in the industry. Not a single ‘friend’ has come forward to speak in her favour. There have been videos circulated about the “real Rhea” that earned her a lot of negative press. Ever since Sushant’s father named her, a parallel social media campaign called #JusticeForSSR and #SSRWarriors have been doing the rounds.

How did Rhea react?

In a petition filed at the Supreme Court, Chakraborty claimed she had no role in the actor’s death and was falsely implicated by Rajput’s father. She also sought transfer of the probe in the FIR to Mumbai, saying that there cannot be an impartial investigation in Bihar. The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which investigates financial crimes, also registered a money laundering case over transactions worth of Rs 150 million based on the complaint registered by Rajput’s father. Source: Wikipedia.

What did Rhea’s PR team make her do?

  • Release a video where she appealed to the public that the matter is sub judice.
  • Made her give interviews and statements in smaller newspapers, TV channels and YouTube channels
  • She wasn’t media trained and thus used casual language during interviews, appeared cold towards the issue
  • Biggest PR faux pas: They arranged an interview with Rajdeep Sardesai where she maligns Sushant

Where has Rhea’s PR Team gone wrong?

The very essence of PR is that it must appear organic and not choreographed. A PR campaign should not look like a scripted drive to clean up the image of the person concerned. The PR team seems to have forgotten this while they are desperately attempting to clean Rhea’s image.

Rhea’s PR team’s efforts are going in vain because the campaign has no soul. It’s almost as if they themselves believe that she is guilty, which is why they are desperately trying to cover up using standard PR processes. #JusticeForSSR

Team Rhea must understand that maligning Sushant will do nothing for Rhea’s public image

On 26 August, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), India’s national drug law enforcement agency, registered an FIR against Rhea, her brother Showik, and three others. Following this, Team Rhea is feeding hungry news scavengers with sensational news showing that Sushant was a drug addict.

My question is, how is proving Sushant’s addiction doing anything to uplift Rhea’s already damaged image? Morality aside, making Rhea blame someone who isn’t there to defend himself is carving a path of eternal doom for Rhea’s professional life.

What should they have done?

They should approach the campaign believing that Rhea is not guilty (even though investigations may prove otherwise).

The ‘Satyamev Jayate’ video by Rhea should have had an emotional appeal. Instead of making her speak the legal language, Rhea should have spoken about her relationship, stated facts and thus proven that she is innocent.

Take the example of Ankita Lokhande who had broken up with Sushant a long time ago has smartly built her image positively in the media. She took the efforts to reach out to the right TV channel and spoke her heart out. Why isn’t Rhea’s team making her do this?

The PR team should have realised that every interview with a smaller media platform is going to spread sensation – because that is how these platforms thrive.

They shouldn’t have approached Rajdeep Sardesai for the interview on India Today and Aaj Tak knowing that they don’t hold believability in the hearts of viewers. The channel holds a strong perception of being biased. Rajdeep is a controversial journalist whose past has gathered lots of negative sentiments among the public. The interview could have been scripted better to lead to a better and positive impact.

Failure to identify sentiment-specific platforms is one of the biggest blunders by
Rhea’s PR Team.

Team Rhea needs to understand where eyeballs are and what the audience uses the platform for:

Gone are the days where you could post your content on a popular platform and expect sentiments to swing your way. Today, audience behaviour is much complicated than ever before. Team Rhea hasn’t realised that the eyeballs have moved and sentiment on specific platforms exists in the online domain.

People watch a particular platform to believe and another platform for masala news. The entire thrust of Team Rhea’s campaign has been to gather eyeballs without realising that viewership does not equal to believability.

Team Rhea has spent a lot of time, efforts and money in approaching the masala news platforms in a hope that the news spreads like wild-fire. Well, the news spread, but the sentiments haven’t changed. A large section of the public still hates Rhea and has assumed her as culprit. Going to masala news platforms is only going to act like petrol in a wildfire.

Most Indian families begin their day by reading the updates on the case, scrolling through videos, and eagerly await the “truth” on the evening prime time television. They closely watch the Twitter trends and read views till late night.

How should RHEA CHAKRABORTY'S PR TEAM manage her image crisis?

What should Team Rhea do to save her public image?

Team #RheaChakraborty needs a refresher course in crisis management & PR. Best thing for her image right now is to keep mum till the investigations are over. Why is she adding to her problems by speaking to the media? Who is advising her?

We live in a nation where no one is guilty until proven. If they have held the client to a media trial, then the best thing is to take it head on.

The PR team must realise the extensive damage that they are doing to Rhea’s future by resorting to these age-old PR tactics. Times have changed and the approach to PR needs to change. #JusticeForSSR

Pro PR tips for Team #RheaChakraborty:

  • Always start with the premise that your client is not guilty, even though surrounding circumstances prove otherwise.
  • Stay calm and look at the case objectively
  • Don’t allow the emotions surrounding the case affect you
  • Build trust with Rhea and take the facts of the case
  • Separate judicial route from the PR route. Let the courts and investigations run parallel to the PR exercise.
  • Don’t fall prey to the media trial. Rise above it.
  • Think of long-term solutions instead of tactical steps to patch-up the happenings
  • Lie low, don’t indulge in desperate attempts to “Tell Rhea’s story”. Understand where the winds are blowing. All these paid attempts will only lead to more problems for your client.
  • If your client has nothing to hide, then get her on a channel that is resonating the sentiment of the public.
  • Talk to Republic TV or Times Now & make Rhea Chakraborty tell her story. Resorting to scripted interviews is going to damage her case further.
  • Have a solid back-up plan for both case scenarios – if proven guilty or innocent. Have a plan to salvage her image in both cases.

Rhea is a girl who lost the man she loved – instead of appearing sad and emotional; she is behaving like a convict who fears being prosecuted. It is fuelling speculations and leading people to crucify her even before they prove the charges in the court of law.

Would love to know your views about the PR pointers mentioned above.

Penned by:

Mayura Amarkant

Disclaimer:

Dear Readers, I, Mayura Amarkant, Founder of DiaryOfAnInsaneWriter have written the above article based on my experience as a Crisis Manager, having managed large-scale national crisis for brands and individuals. Indo-global SME Chamber recognised me for my work in the form of a national-level award as a Woman Business Leader in Digital Marketing and PR. The views expressed above are completely my own. This is NOT a sponsored or paid post.

Copyright

©MayuraAmarkant. This article is the property of DiaryOfAnInsaneWriter. Any unauthorized use or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mayura Amarkant (DiaryOfAnInsaneWriter). With the right and specific direction to the original content.

68 comments

  1. Very sensible article in the era of paid PR promotions . I agreed on the all the bad PR so called team rhea have done. But i don’t think PR people are that clueless considering the fact Crores are spent for it. I think the PR team is protecting someone/something else (i don’t know). So they are making Rhea to get all the negative image so as to protect the really people. I predict the she will take the fall(or made to fall) to protect someone else.So they have perfect PR strategy just that Rhea is not the beneficiary . In these kind of things, truth will never come out as it will be inconvenient to most people. And the people will believe what they prefer .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Honestly, I followed the case closely in the beginning. I’ve liked Sushant from this television days and the loss seemed personal. The whole media circus around it had made me wary of late though. There isn’t smoke without fire and Rhea seems to have played some role in the entire incident. How and what remains to be seen. Till then tilting public support in her favour is a job her PR must take head on.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow what a post and the above thread already had shown that you had done a fabulous job in making a keen analysis of PR team of Rhea. I agree with all pointers you had shared in the post. nowadays, “Aam Janta” is enough smart and you can not make them fool by planning some scripted options to save your client. hope truth come out soon, waiting for final verdict and justice for SSR. would again like to appreciate your efforts for this CASE STUDY with so much precision and perfection.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t followed the news for many years now but do hear a bit while the father in law is watching it. I heard something where she is pleading to the media not to make speculations but she is innocent. The way the media has shifted news to SSR (however pretty he was and however sad the situation is) is appalling especially during this pandemic where we have to learn whether the numbers are increasing or decreasing. It’s funny how the importance of news has decreased while increasing TRPs have become more important.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This entire issue has been dragged way too much than what was required. While the death of such an esteemed and self made actor was definitely a terrible shock to the industry, the Indian media needs to find other, much more important things tk consider. Making private chats public was especially the worst of all. I’m appalled to see journalists and politicians fighting and playing blame game and trying to juice out TRP out of such a sad incident. The way this incident is being dealt with has just become insensitive now and this needs to stop!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You’ve brought up good key points to highlight how Rhea’s PR team could’ve handled the crisis better. But there is more to this case and the on-going media trial isn’t helping the case. Reporters should be neutral and bring out the facts, unfortunately the media is busy passing judgement and giving more screen time to raise and encourage controversies. And in all this the other important news has taken a back seat.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think the PR got too much floored by Rhea’s idea or her narration. They should have used there wisdom, built and emotional narrative, bordering on logic and most of all Rhea should have been honest with them. There is more to this case, then what we can see? Rhea is like a tip of iceberg. Also, I want to ask where was the family till now? The guy was in such a bad condition and the father never brought him back to his hometown by force. They have charged her for money-laundering, is that it? Are they only worried about funds? I believe somewhere the family also deserves a piece of blame cake. I would not like to mention a word on SSR here, as people will go mad, but I believe no human can be manipulated this much and especially a guy of SSR stature. We cannot deny he not only survived in the industry but also grew. This clearly indicates he was worldly-wise, so all these stories around him being manipulated, innocent, cow-like person. Doesn’t somehow fit the bill?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes the media circus around SSR case is insane. Moreover for public it is difficult to believe what is true and what is not. As for Rhea all of a sudden her reputation is completely maligned mostly by public opinion and social media posts. Here PR people must be having sleepless nights.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I also felt that her PR is doing the worst job ever. The recent interview was so bad and she was very insensitive. The biggest issue for us is in other countries, people follow the mantra ‘not guilty until proven’ but our society believes ‘guilty until proven’. Hopefully CBI does the investigation and comes out with the findings soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Excellent points you have covered here as strategies taken by Rhea’s PR. But somehow I feel its not only about Rhea , its about big fishes in the sea. Rhea is just a name, who stayed with SSR for long term and moved out few days back before the death of SSR. There are more stories or hidden truth hide behind the suicide or murder of Sushant. We even can not disagree the death point of Disha, involvement of Suraj Pancholi, Shaunak, Aditya Thackeray and a few close friends of Sushant. We even can not underestimate the non supportive behavior of Mumbai Police and small video clips appeared later from SSR house.

    No one started blaming Rhea at very beginning, but her mysterious behavior, her post deletion, her repeatedly statement changing nature actually prove that something cooking behind the scene.
    PR for sure played a great role but not beyond of the truth as big shots are involved and they are desperately trying to clear their images…ITS NOT RHEA , ITS EVERYONE BEHIND THE SCENE

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This was an interesting read. Yes it’s quite clear that her PR team didn’t handle this situation in the best way. We can just hope that in the end the truth prevails and not some story that is created by the media.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This is an interesting article – A deep dive into the PR aspects and where they are going with this narrative!
    I agree with you, they have taken/ are taking one wrong turn too many! I hope the truth trumps and not the storytelling which is all that is going on right now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Ma’am! This is awesomely penned down! Very well said & your thought process is absolutely correct! But still what’s going to happen! Is a big question mark. Everyday some new story or new facts are coming up. The case is a mess!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. You know ,i was thinking the same . Her PR strategy seems like falling . I am glad that you are studying the case in so detail . I have also seen your amazing tweets on twitter regarding the case .

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Being an ex-brand manager and a student of PR & Media, I am in complete awe with the way you have created this post to explain it to all your readers. There are so many angles to this case and I completely agree with you that the PR for Rhea has definitely failed in all the way possible. Yes, the public support is with Sushant and I am one of them. Hopefully justice prevails!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Your article is absolute garbage. You need not talk about how other people should or shouldn’t be behaving unless you’ve gone through an equally distraught situation yourself…which is highly unlikely. Please keep your precious PR knowledge to yourself henceforth.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I agree that Rhea is facing a lot of flak after Sushant Singh’s death. The interview with Rajdeep Sardesai added to her woes because she had totally insensitive approach. Good read:)

    Liked by 1 person

  17. You really are insane. Also don’t give such statements either. It paints a picture of you being a PR agent for her too. Keep your thoughts to yourself. CBI is strong enough to not get influenced by media trials and give their judgement.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Every thing you said from Rhea’s side is quite on point. There are few more I would like to add. The circumstantial evidences are more against her. She should not have ran away on the first few meetings of thr ED. That’s called being ESCAPIST.
    The SC has deliberately handed the case over to the CBI but all eyes are on Rhea now. Guilty or not, till date the law says “Innocent unless proven guilty”. Had she been not guilty, she should have not freaked out.
    We all want the truth to surface out. But with all the rage coming out on the so called girlfriend is just a way to shadow all other possible vendettas. What about the so called Khans, the Pancholis and the Whatnots. Let’s just face it, Rhea is a no one and hence she is facing the wrath. All the biggies are still backed by money and names. Why not point that again?
    If Rhea is guilty, well her actions till now says that she does know something, her PR should advise her to speak out the names now.
    It is quite clear that her chances in the films are done. If she says she is SSRs girlfriend, it is time that she should act like one. Calling out on SSR is not the way. Had she really not been an associate to the “possible murder”, she should really act natural. And that really is not a needed advice from the PR. That is a default thing. However, all that a PR could do now is plausibly advice her to be honest.
    I really look forward to a closure to this case. He was a gem. All this should not go waste, like the Jiah Khan case. Because at the end of the day, if the BOLLY BULLIES are the ones, CBI would also let them go, just like Jiah’s death.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so glad you have taken the time out to not only read but analyse the piece and the case. I totally agree with you, she needs to come out in the open and be honest about what she has done or not done. That is the only thing that can save her now. Thank you for stopping by.

      Like

  19. Hello Mayura,
    Very well written article there. Enjoyed the objectivity and the clarity of content, the current and the ideal PR handling scenarios. It will make an excellent case study for students of PR, brand Mgmt and Marketing.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Hello there PR specialist,
    First of all I would start by saying, where were specialists like you when someone so wonderful like Sushant who used to go out of his way to help people(sadly many of those moments are being broadcasted after his death), was being maligned and accused of things unspeakable by PR specialists?!!
    No PR team can help Rhea because unlike Sushant she hasn’t touched lives. And there are millions of people who can vouch for it.
    For her PR Team to clear her name, she probably will have to born again, maybe as a better human being next time. The reason being if she really “loved” the person, no matter how much her PR team taught her, she wouldn’t have been able to do the maligning that she tried to do(done very subtly by the way!) Maligning someone who isn’t even here to clear him name.
    Rhea is guilty or not, that’s going to be proved by the investigation agencies, but remember “There’s no smoke without fire”. But i believe whatever she’s going is probably her own Karma, and if she has wronged in any way, i really hope she pays for it. Period.
    I really wish articles like yours had actually come up when Sushant Singh Rajput needed a good PR Team because apparently his weren’t able to do anything good for him while he was going around doing good for people.
    A life has been lost. A good man is no more. And I do not say this as a fan. I say this as another human being who admired a man who dared to dreams these big fantastic dreams and vowed to fulfill all of it! That opportunity has been snatched away from him.
    You are someone who has the power to make great impact with the mere use of words, and i really don’t know what were you thinking while writing this, but i wish you had used it during better circumstances and for maybe someone who really deserved it.

    Don’t even know you to say how disappointed I am in people like you.

    May almighty impart you to power to know the difference between right and wrong. And may you write better articles in future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Nairandmenon for stopping by. As the first 3 lines in this article state: this is a case study and not a morality debate. There are people who have gotten away with much worse because of their PR persons. May you find time to read this objectively, like a CASE STUDY.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You have done a detailed study of the case and presented a good picture on how pr agencies talent management skills have been lacking. I too believe that till proven, everyone is innocent but somehow in this case Reah has lost half the battle due to poor PR and presentation in public eye

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Hello there PR specialist,
    First of all I would start by saying, where were specialists like you when someone so wonderful like Sushant who used to go out of his way to help people(sadly many of those moments are being broadcasted after his death), was being maligned and accused of things unspeakable by PR specialists?!!
    No PR team can help Rhea because unlike Sushant she hasn’t touched lives. And there are millions of people who can vouch for it. She did the things she’s been accused of or not is something which will very soon be proved but remember “There’s no smoke without fire”.
    For her PR Team to clear her name, she probably will have to born again, maybe as a better human being next time. The reason being if she really “loved” the person, no matter how much her PR team taught her, she wouldn’t have been able to do the maligning that she tried to do(done very subtly by the way!) Maligning someone who isn’t even here to clear him name.
    Rhea is guilty or not, that’s going to be proved by the investigation agencies, but remember “There’s no smoke without fire”. But i believe whatever she’s going is probably her own Karma, and if she has wronged in any way, i really hope she pays for it. Period.
    I really wish articles like yours had actually come up when Sushant Singh Rajput needed a good PR Team because apparently his weren’t able to do anything good for him while he was going around doing good for people.
    A life has been lost. A good man is no more. And I do not say this as a fan. I say this as another human being who admired a man who dared to dreams these big fantastic dreams and vowed to fulfill all of it! That opportunity has been snatched away from him.
    You are someone who has the power to make great impact with the mere use of words, and i really don’t know what were you thinking while writing this, but i wish you had used it during better circumstances and for maybe someone who really deserved it.

    Don’t even know you to say how disappointed I am in people like you.

    May almighty impart you to power to know the difference between right and wrong. And may you write better articles in future.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Rhea’s pr can’t do anything about her image unless she’s miraculously proven innocent which I believe won’t happen since 3 investigating agencies are grilling her and anyone related to this case. I believe that the CBI will catch the culprit soon enough. #justiceforssr

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Wish you had understood that the negative uproar had enabled Sushant’s case to be taken up and investigated thoroughly,rather than being passed off as suicide.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. For god’s sake stick your advice where the monkey stores his nuts

    Rhea’s interviews were fantastic
    Honest and sincere, which is what counts

    Laurel and Hardy / Gujarat liar are
    Suspect

    Sushant s family should shut up atleast now !!!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Republic Bharat is the masala channel and people love masala .I don’t believe in your content. Behind all this perception social campaign by Susant’s sister and state BJP of Bihar and little role of Mumbai BJP n the lust of electronic media 2 b no.1 r responsible.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Mr./Ms./Mrs Mayura Amarkant,

    You are unbelievable. Do you think that because of media trials, the SC of India has given the case from Mumbai Police to CBI? Do you think everyone else is a fool, except Rhea and clan and of course, people like you?

    How cleverly you have put the subject title for this article, is commendable, as your article is basically another Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V of Rhea’s PR Team story.
    If this comment somehow reaches you, I know your freedom of speech article will come out very soon. But let me tell you something, as an avid reader, be it books of varied kinds or online articles, there are some writers, who take you on a trip to a world beyond imagination, there are some writers, who throw truth in your face like the softest linen you have touched and the impact of the feeling stays with you forever, there are some writers, who make you understand difference between morality and immorality, Dharm and Adharm, the understanding comes from union of heart and mind, that’s the impact of writing. Writers can bring change in the society, that’s the power of words.

    And then there are writers like you. Who I don’t know why, but desperately want to be in worst writers club. May be because more than writing, now money is giving you pleasure.

    Anyway, I feel sad for you.

    Liked by 1 person

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