A photo may be worth a thousand words, but a celebrity Instagram is worth that plus thousands of followers’ likes and comments. A fan favorite, Instagram, gives followers a glimpse of celebrities’ daily lives, showing shots of stars’ preparations for award shows, hang-outs with famous friends, ‘foodgrams,’ selfies and the beloved, #TBT or “Throwback Thursdays.” Instagram may be an easy form of entertainment for anyone with a smartphone, but as pointed out by New York Magazine’s The Cutand PR Daily, the photo-sharing app has also proved to be an efficient crisis PR tool for celebrities.
A recent example, as told by The Cut, is the Carter-Knowles elevator mishap towards the end of the Met Gala last month. Instagram saved Beyoncé, Solange and Jay-Z when leaked security footage showed Solange aggressively attacking Jay-Z with Beyoncé standing by. Media and fans were confused as to what caused the dispute and worried that the family was having serious issues. A week or so later, the family released a statement saying they “each assume their share of responsibility for what has occurred” and that they “have moved forward as a united family.” Instagram solidified this fact when both Beyoncé and Solange posted new photos of the sisters happily together.
Instagram was especially effective for Beyoncé and Solange because the photos immediately reached their target audience of followers. The Instagram shots made their statement more genuine, as pointed out by The Cut, and the sisters could maintain the control of their brand.
James Franco also used Instagram as support in publicly apologizing for allegedly hitting on a mere 17-year-old fan on Instagram (yes, the social platform can cause crisis, too). When screenshots of text messages and Instagram comments were leaked exposing James Franco convincing a teenaged girl to meet him at a hotel, Franco publicly apologized a few days later on Live With Kelly and Michael.He then Instagrammed a still shot of him being interviewed on the talk show and another image of a fan stating how she still loves Franco for admitting his wrongdoing. Although his Instagrams show some self-pity and egotism, at least he acknowledged the problem to his followers.
Now that celebrities and publicists are taking to Instagram to solve their crises, isn’t it time for other brands to do the same? Major corporations could gain back much more respect and trust if they acknowledge their wrongdoing to their followers in other ways than a press release. For instance, Target could’ve addressed it’s horrendous Photoshop mistake showing a model in a bikini with extra-long arms and an unrealistic thigh gap on their Instagram by, perhaps, Instagramming the unedited image with an apology statement.
Instagram is now much more than a variety of filter options that make any image pretty. The social medium helps maintain a brand’s image, even in crisis. However, solving a crisis is not as easy as sharing a photo like Beyonce and Solange’s that’s all smiles. Celebrity publicists and brands should formulate the exact message they want to send and then translate it to an image. The tactics of crisis PR may be changing, but the fundamentals of fixing an issue will always be the same.