Anyone who enjoys flicking through the Mail Online during their lunch break will no doubt be up to date with the latest celebrity scandal involving Jamelia.
“I don’t believe stores should stock clothes below or above a certain weight. They should be made to feel uncomfortable when they go in and can’t find a size.”
Jamelia’s statements quickly sparked a stir on Twitter, with angry viewers attacking the celebrity for her ‘hurtful’ words:
Many woman (and men) have also taken to Twitter using the hashtag #WeAreTheThey to show off their curvy photographs and talk about what it’s like to have a body size that Jamelia deems as unhealthy:
— Naomi Griffiths (@Naomi_Griffiths) April 22, 2015
Putting aside my personal views and looking at this purely from a PR perspective, there are several lessons that we can learn from Jamelia’s mistakes:
- Pick the right media platform. Loose Women – though a programme which encourages debate – was certainly not the right programme for Jamelia to share controversial opinions about people who are ‘overweight’. The show is targeted to women over the age of 30, many who will fall into this plus-size category or will have strong opinions about the topic, so there was bound to be a backlash no matter how Jamelia packaged what she said. Knowing your media and their target audience is paramount!
- Timing. Recently there has been a stream of stories in the press about teenagers who have sadly died after taking slimming pills. Regrettably for Jamelia, the public associated her comments on Loose Women with these unfortunate events, allowing the media to paint her as an even bigger villain. By keeping up to date with what’s going on in the media, situations like this can be avoided.
- Respond quickly. One thing Jamelia does seem to have done right is address the situation head-on, and quickly. The singer appeared on Good Morning Britain the same week to respond to the criticism that she had received, and to say that she was sorry for upsetting people. One of the most important things you can do in a crisis is acknowledge the issue quickly. With the advance of social media and online press, speed is paramount so that you don’t let a crisis fester.
HOWEVER, Jamelia’s apology on Good Morning Britain was only to be met with further backlash after the star defended her comments, saying ‘I didn’t make it clear on the show that I was talking about extremes, I was talking about above size 20 and below size six, those sizes being available in masse’ and ‘’I do stand by what I said. I’m a real woman with real opinions. I get paid to voice my opinions.’ Which leads me nicely to my next point…
- Think before you speak. Once you’ve said it, there’s no going back. Which is why media training and crisis management is so critical for out-spoken celebrities like Jamelia, who are constantly in the spotlight.