Elizabeth Wiredu
Sep 24, 2023

Russell Brand case: 'Legal and PR strategies need to work hand in hand'

The scandal is a reminder of why legal and PR strategies must work closely together, a leading comms figure says.

(Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)
(Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

The comedian, TV presenter and actor Russell Brand has been in the news for the past several days after allegations of rape, sexual assault and emotional abuse were made against him in a joint investigation by The Times, The Sunday Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches.

Rather than responding to inquiries from journalists, Brand took to social media, sharing a video in which he vehemently denied the allegations.

Brand said he believed he was the subject of a “co-ordinated attack” and he was going to look into the matter because it was “very, very serious”.

PR agency MBC parted ways with Brand after the allegations. The agency confirmed it had worked with him over the past year “on a very informal basis” before it resigned at the weekend (16-17 September).

Respected entertainment PR Julian Henry, who is the global head of communication at XIX Entertainment, told PRWeek: “There’s very little a crisis PR expert can do for Russell Brand right now. Twenty years ago he was treated for his addictions but the startling revelations last weekend suggest a sustained pattern of abusing women since then and that, as Harvey Weinstein will know, is a road of no return. [MBC co-founder] Barbara Charone was right to resign. I wouldn’t rep him either.

“Brand’s legal team will probably argue on the basis of consent, but much of what’s been revealed will have been so unpleasant it’s hard to see a way back.

“This case reminds us why legal and PR strategies need to work hand in hand to protect public entertainment figures from their own behaviour patterns. The problem here was not the women or the media; it was Brand himself. It would have taken a strong PR voice to counter a man of his self-conviction, but this would have been the only way to avert the implosion of his career that we’ve witnessed over the last few days.

“We can expect growth in this sector of the PR Industry over the next few years as others are called to account for previous misdemeanours.”

Henry added: “It now looks like Brand’s recent promotion of daft causes was a protection strategy designed to frame any media attacks as the establishment ‘’aving a go’. No. A few crazies will always support Russell Brand. But as far as the mainstream is concerned, it’s game over.”

Separately, speaking on the When It Hits the Fan podcast, former Sun editor David Yelland also discussed the case. Asked if this is the end of the road professionally and reputationally for Brand, Yelland – who now runs comms advisory firm Kitchen Table Partners – said: “You would think so. But he will think he can defy gravity. And the reason he will think that is that other people are doing it; have done it and are doing it.

“So Russell Brand may look at that and think: ‘Actually, when it all dies down, I can carry on.’”


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