Cate Blanchett’s award-winning performance as Lydia Tár has sparked much debate across the industry. WildKat’s Olivia Brown considers how to help this once charismatic genius in the final part of this article
FACT FINDING MISSION
First up though, we would need to discover all the facts. This is critical. However difficult it may be to share, everything would need be laid on the table. We would need as much information from our client as possible. As the first port of call for media inquiries about her, we need to know as much as we possibly can in order to feel comfortable dealing with any curveballs. Having a detailed, objective overview of the crisis at hand is vital. This allows us to devise appropriate communications and begin to anticipate public response and feeling.
RELEASING A STATEMENT
Devising the messaging and drafting of initial statements is perhaps one of the most important factors to consider. A generic statement is rarely effective, and the public will see through it. The statement has to be authentic. And, most importantly, it must be explicit in its compassion for those affected by the allegations, while also being 100% genuine. That’s not easy. It’s likely at this early stage that a lawyer might advise against the issuing of an apology.
Any statement in these circumstances should be as concise as possible. That may seem odd, since we’ve worked hard to find out as much as we possibly can, but some of the journalists asking for it may still be piecing interpretations together at their end, trying to work out what story they will tell. And, in many cases they’ll also be treading carefully and responsibly (with their publication’s lawyers very interested) in what are sensitive and distressing circumstances. Keeping sentences as brief as possible, while still getting across essential points, may avoid unnecessarily feeding a story. This is one PR endeavour where the less column inches the better.
Whilst social media and rolling news often force a response at the earliest opportunity, it is important to take the time to establish a rigorous first response that will prove satisfactory. Yes, the media dislikes a void, and will fill it themselves if necessary but its vital to get this right. So, sometimes a holding message is required, especially when dealing with a cascade of requests. This will ensure we can communicate that the situation is being dealt with.
And the important thing to remember is that while a statement may be in response to requests from the press, its roll-out will likely be far broader. It will need to be useable by media as part of stories, but it will need to stand alone for communications with other artists, employers, stakeholders and the general public. It will also need to work for placement via a variety of social media platforms.
THE POINT OF NO RETURN?
I think it’s fair to say, based on what we saw throughout the film, that it would be at this early point in proceedings that WildKat’s relationship with its client will fray, probably irrevocably. Tár’s preferred mode seemed to be to ignore the trail of destruction in her wake, and move on, rather than take any responsibility for her actions. But anyone, no matter how dazzling their career, faced with these circumstances must step back, rely on good legal advice, take the long view and await due process.
Perhaps a type of rehabilitation campaign could be considered for our client a very long way down the track, but only if she were to be proven innocent of all the charges made against her. And, could she change? We’ve got to know the real (fictional) maestra through fascinating reveals of sometimes cryptic information across 157 gripping minutes of screen time. Could we help this once charismatic genius make an eventual return to prominence, to return to the grand life she had built for herself? Well, PR can only do so much. And the most important thing is that you have to wholeheartedly, totally trust your client. I’m not sure that would ever be possible with Lydia Tár.
Olivia Brown is Managing Director at WildKat and manages the agencies five offices internationally.