Sunday, October 14, 2007

Drunk Driving Starlets: Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton

By: Chris J Vargo, Fall 2007

Supplement: Understanding Publicists

A publicist is a person whose job is to generate and manage publicity for a public figure, especially a celebrity, or for a work such as a book or film. Publicists usually work at large companies handling multiple clients.
In the world of celebrities, unlike agents or managers, publicists typically take a flat monthly fee for servicing a client (whereas agents and managers tend to take a percentage of their client’s gross income). Base rates in Hollywood in 2007 for mid to high-level publicists are reportedly in the $3,000 - $5,000 USD per month, per client.
Good publicists get press coverage for their client. The publicist is often the middleman between the personality and the media. It’s the aim of a publicist to have their client receive positive acclaim. However it has often been said, “the only bad publicity is no publicity.”
Whereas Politicians and captains of industry require a little more specific spin on their press-they want to be seen as forward-looking and confident-but other professions like celebrity are generally less picky. This lack of spin will be highlighted further in this study.
And for the women we’re about to look at, publicists also perform another service: Damage control. That is, attempting to counteract any undesirable press coverage the client receives. This position as “last line of defense” is what distinguishes the adequate publicist from the extraordinary one. Good publicists can turn scandal into opportunity and create valuable name-recognition for their clients.
A major part of the publicist’s day is spent writing press releases and creating press packets, which have photos and information about the publicized person or company. Publicists spend a lot of time on the phone. They put in long hours, and most receive little financial reward in return. They operate under hectic conditions and must adhere to strict deadlines, which coincide with publicity events, such as the release of a movie or the publishing of a book. They have to ensure that they get the appropriate information to the media in time for the event they are generating publicity for, such as the facts in a DUI arrest, or the release date of their clients new album. They must always be available for comment, even when that comment is “no comment,” and remain friends with the media, no matter how demanding the desires of both clients and the reporters on whom they depend.

Part One: The Celebrities

I. Lindsay Lohan

A. Background -
Lindsay Dee Lohan, born July 2, 1986, is an American actress and pop music singer. Lohan started in show business as a child fashion model for magazine advertisement and television commercials. At age ten, she began her acting career in a soap opera; at eleven, she made her motion picture debut by playing both twins in Disney's 1998 remake of The Parent Trap.
In recent years, Lohan has been the subject of media scrutiny focusing on her personal life. Lohan was born in The Bronx and grew up in Merrick and Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island in New York. She is the eldest child of Michael Douglas Lohan Sr., a onetime actor, and former Rockette Donata "Dina" Sullivan.

B. Current News –
I. July 24, 2007 –
In the wake of her arrest withdrew from a scheduled appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to promote her starring role as a stripper in the film I Know Who Killed Me. On its opening weekend, the film was #9 at the box office — grossing $3.5 million.
Entertainment Weekly quoted the head of a major film studio as saying, "Her career was over long before she had these troubles... Right now, she'd have to pay a studio to get herself into a movie." Returning to Hollywood could mean potential relapse for her addictions, so Lohan will travel and study in Europe after leaving rehab. Lohan is keen to venture away from America for her education, according to her mother Dina, telling Us Weekly: "She wants to go abroad and study in school. We'll see what happens."
II. July 31st, 2006 –
Lohan's publicist told the syndicated entertainment show The Insider that her client was taken to a hospital, where she was treated for overheating and dehydration. Lohan had been filming Georgia Rule in 105-degree weather for 12 hours that day, spokeswoman Leslie Sloan Zelnick said.

B. PR Incidents Background Info –
i. July 26, 2006 Hospitalization –
A studio executive scolded Lindsay Lohan in a letter for her behavior on a movie set and doubted her reasons earlier this week when she said she suffered from heat exhaustion. James G. Robinson, CEO of Morgan Creek Productions, sent the letter dated July 26 to the 20-year-old actress, as well as agents, producers and others involved in the film.
The letter stated, "You and your representatives have told us that your various late arrivals and absences from the set have been the result of illness; today we were told it was 'heat exhaustion.' We are well aware that your ongoing all night heavy partying is the real reason for your so-called 'exhaustion,'"

ii. May 26, 2007 Arrest –
Lohan lost control of her Mercedes-Benz convertible and struck a curb. Police found "additional contraband" in the car - which was tentatively identified as a "usable" amount of cocaine. After receiving treatment for minor injuries, Lohan was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of alcohol. Two days later, Lohan entered the Promises rehabilitation facility in Malibu, staying for 45 days. A week later, on July 20, Lohan, accompanied by her attorney, surrendered herself to be fingerprinted and photographed. She was released on her own recognizance and assigned a court date of August 24.
iii. July 24, 2007 Arrest -
In the pre-dawn hours the Santa Monica police received a 911 call from a car being driven by Michelle Peck - whose daughter had left her employment as Lohan's personal assistant several hours previously. Peck reported that she was being chased by a white GMC and feared for her safety. The police later found Peck and Lohan having a "heated debate" in the parking lot of the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Lohan refused to take a Breathalyzer test, but agreed to other field sobriety tests. After failing these tests, she was taken to a police station where her blood alcohol level was tested at between 0.12 and 0.13 percent - above the California legal limit of 0.08 percent. While conducting a search, the police found a small amount of cocaine in her pocket.
Lohan was booked on felony charges of possession of cocaine and transportation of a narcotic - in addition to misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license. A few hours after Lohan's release on $25,000 bail, her attorney, Blair Berk, issued a statement:
Addiction is a terrible and vicious disease. Since Lindsay transitioned to outpatient care, she has been monitored on a SCRAM "Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor,” bracelet and tested daily in order to support her sobriety. Throughout this period, I have received timely and accurate reports from the testing companies. Unfortunately, late yesterday I was informed that Lindsay had relapsed. The bracelet has now been removed. She is safe, out of custody and presently receiving medical care.

II. Nicole Richie
I. Background –
Nicole Camille Richie, born September 21, 1981, is an American socialite, actress, author, entrepreneur, style icon, model, and singer. The adopted daughter of Lionel Richie, she is known for her role in the reality show The Simple Life and her turbulent personal life. Richie is currently expecting her first child (due sometime in January 2008) with boyfriend Joel Madden.
Nicole Richie was born Nicole Camille Escovedo in Berkeley, California. Her biological mother was a backstage assistant for Lionel Richie. Lionel Richie ran into Nicole first as a child playing on stage at a Prince concert, her mother was part of the wardrobe group. Nicole was playing a tambourine. Lionel became a guardian first for Nicole and later adopted her. Richie says of her heritage that she is a "mix of everything", and self-identifies as African American.
C. Current News -
In the spring of 2006, Richie made media headlines with a dramatically thinner appearance, after spending two seasons of "The Simple Life" slightly heavier than her usual. She maintained that skinny was her natural body type and there wasn't anything she could do about it.
On October 27, 2006, it was announced that Richie was seeking treatment for "an inability to put on weight", though it is not treatment for an eating disorder.
In March 2007, Richie was taken to the hospital for dehydration and on March 21 her reps announced she was diagnosed with hypoglycemia.
D. PR Incidents Background Info –
I. On December 11, 2006 -
The California Highway Patrol arrested Richie after she failed a field sobriety test. She was charged with driving under the influence on California State Route 134 in the Burbank/Glendale, California area. Several motorists had reported a black Mercedes-Benz G-Class entering the SR134 freeway on the exit ramp and traveling in the wrong direction. She admitted to using marijuana and Vicodin before the incident. July 27, 2007, Richie was sentenced to four days in jail, but served about 82 minutes of the sentence as Richie checked herself into the Century Regional Detention Center in Lynwood, California on August 23, 2007 at 15:15 PDT and was released at 16:37 PDT. Richie signed up for an 18-month SB 38 anti-drinking driver education program, according to papers filed with the Superior Court of California.
II. Paris Hilton
A. Background –
Paris Whitney Hilton, born February 17, 1981, is an American celebutante, businesswoman, singer, model, actress, author, and television personality. She was an heiress to a share of both the Hilton Hotel fortune and the real estate fortune of her father Richard Hilton. Paris Hilton is no longer an heiress to the Hilton estate, due to her grandfather Barron being disgusted by her behavior.
Some of her more recognizable screen work has been alongside friend Nicole Richie in The Simple Life. Hilton has since garnered notoriety as a result of several legal incidents, the repercussions of which have caused Hilton to serve time in a correctional institution in 2007.

II. Current News –
In January 2007, Hilton's private life again created headlines with the launch of, a website that featured images of personal and medical documents, video, and other private material, allegedly obtained when the contents of a storage locker rented by Hilton were auctioned off due to lack of payment. CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 discussed footage obtained from the website which features Hilton using several ethnic slurs.
In a June 11, 2007 phone interview from jail, Hilton told Barbara Walters that while serving time in jail, God has given her a new chance, and that she will no longer "act dumb.”
Paris is currently having a relationship with Swedish model Alexander von Zweigbergk Väggö a Swedish model born in Kålltorp in Gothenburg, Sweden. Born in 1987 the two met in Paris September 2007. His agent introduced him to Paris during lunch in Los Angeles. He is now considering doing more modeling jobs in LA for famous brands offering him jobs.

III. PR Incidents Background Info –
i. September 2006 –
Hilton was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol content of 0.08. Hilton's drivers license was subsequently suspended in November 2006, and in January 2007 she pled no contest to the alcohol-related reckless driving charge. Her punishment was 36 months' probation and fines of about $1,500.
ii. February 27, 2007 –
Hilton was caught driving 70 MPH in a 35 MPH zone, again with a suspended license. She also did not have her headlights on even though it was after dark. Prosecutors in the office of the Los Angeles City Attorney charged that those actions, along with the failure to enroll in a court-ordered alcohol education program constituted a violation of the terms of her probation.

Part II: The Publicists

I. Leslie Sloane-Zelnick / Lindsay Lohan
Baker Winokur Ryder Olgivy PR
A ten-year veteran based in B|W|R’s New York office, has been promoted from senior vice president of talent to managing director of talent. Working in tandem with senior publicists in B|W|R’s Beverly Hills headquarters, among her clients are Ashton Kutcher, Chris Rock, Lindsay Lohan, Lauren Graham, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Greg Kinnear, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Ren Zellweger, Jacinda Barrett and Katie Holmes. She currently represents 26 clients and is reclusive in nature, and refrains from posting any information about her personal life on any public websites.

II. Nanci Ryder / Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie
Baker Winokur Ryder Olgivy PR
The president of B|W|R, Nanci is currently one of Los Angeles’ biggest publicists. Her reign of 12 personal clients contain super-celebrity clients ranges from Reese Witherspoon to Jennifer Lopez. In addition Nanci over sees interactions with 70 some clients nationwide. With over 25 years experience in the field she has single handedly has one a personal battle with breast cancer, and many small battles with combating press time after time giving her clients the edge by proving the positive and spinning even the most dangerous celebrity slip-ups into perfectly excusable actions.

Part III: Publicists Actions and Reactions

I. Lindsay Lohan / Leslie Sloane-Zelnick
A. The “Dehydration Incident”
July 26th, 2006 –
3rd Party Action:
Lindsay Lohan's hard-partying antics and recent bout of "heat exhaustion" has leaves one Hollywood big shot steamed. In a blistering July 26 letter to the 20-year-old actress, James G. Robinson, who heads the L.A. firm Morgan Creek, calls her recent erratic behavior "discourteous, irresponsible and unprofessional." Robinson, the 70-year-old chief executive of Morgan Creek Productions, writes that Lohan has "acted like a spoiled child and in doing so have alienated many of your co-workers and endangered the quality" of "Georgia Rule," a movie now being filmed and which stars Lohan, Jane Fonda, and Felicity Huffman. A copy of Robinson's letter--which was delivered to Lohan at the Chateau Marmont hotel--can be found below. A Morgan Creek official confirmed to TSG that the missive was sent to Lohan and her various representatives earlier this week. July 25th Lohan's publicist told the syndicated entertainment show The Insider that her client was taken to a hospital, where she was treated for overheating and dehydration. Lohan had been filming Georgia Rule in 105-degree weather for 12 hours that day, spokeswoman Leslie Sloan Zelnick said.

Publicist Reaction:
Lohan's publicist told the syndicated entertainment show The Insider that her client was taken to a hospital, where she was treated for overheating and dehydration. Lohan had been filming Georgia Rule in 105-degree weather for 12 hours that day, spokeswoman Leslie Sloan Zelnick said.

Analysis of Publicist Reaction:
In framing the issue as a medical problem that was relatively out of Lohan’s control, Zelnick avoids blame while trying to preserve Lohan’s image. In down playing her response to a short paragraph quote to reporters on a conference call, she avoids the lingering press that a press release might incur. Publicist Mary Beth O’Toole affirms the use of a conference call decision, “While some may say there’s no such thing as bad press, it’s just not necessary to have when you have a high profile person like Lohan.” The Los Angeles Publicist continued, “It’s best to let these things die out on their own as hearsay, it’s best to avoid printing anything that you might later be quoted on in an article.”

Personal Criticism of Reaction:
Phone conversations can often lead to miss quotes and hearsay. When something even as dull as a written warning leaks out to the press, it’s important to be precise and accurate with conveying information. While Zelnick ends up coming out in the plus on this instance, she took a big chance of being misquoted in a touchy subject with a client who was already cast out as a troubled teenager.

B. May 26, 2007 – DUI and Rehab
Lohan Action:
Lindsay Lohan crashed her 2005 Mercedes SL-65 on a curb on Sunset Boulevard, in Beverly Hills, CA at 5:30 a.m. on May 26. Police investigators found what appeared to be cocaine at the scene of the accident.

Lt. Mitch McCann stated that Lohan was not in immediate possession of the illegal drug, and that Lohan was released to hospital custody for treatment of minor injuries from the crash. However, police still charged Lohan with the misdemeanor of driving under the influence, since the crash seemed to have resulted from speeding, possibly caused by a cocaine-induced, hyperactive state.

Publicist Reaction:
Lohan "admitted herself to an intensive medical rehabilitation facility" on Monday, according to a statement released by her publicist, Leslie Sloane Zelnick.
Zelnick’s written statement continued, "Because this is a medical matter, it is our hope that the press will appreciate the seriousness of the situation and respect the privacy of Lindsay as well as the other patients receiving treatment at the facility."
The visit becomes Lohan's second rehab stint this year. She said in January that she had checked into a rehabilitation center for substance abuse treatment. "It's so weird that I went to rehab," Lohan said in Allure magazine's May issue. "I always said I would die before I went to rehab."

Analysis of Publicist Reaction:
This time, Zelnick realizes the importance of a key issue that could and most likely will have huge repercussions on Lohan’s career. In this case Zelnick realizes that the problem will not go away on it’s own and immediately drafts a press release that night, emailing it out to reporters at 4:30 AM.
“In this way she gets the first word in on a TOUCHY subject, I mean what a nightmare…” said Mary Beth O’Toole. Hollywood reporting has been known to be wildly inaccurate and over exaggerated; Zelnick did the right thing by acting right away with the facts she knew.
Three days later Zelnick drafts and sends another press release staying Lohan has committed herself to rehab. “This is a perfect example of an actor getting caught with her hands in the cookie jar,” O’Toole commented. She added, “If she didn’t do something to pretend to rectify the problem right away, she’d be outcast forever.”

Personal Criticism of Reaction:
Even though this time Zelnick is careful to write 2 press releases amounting to only 100 words total, she treats the situation with little empathy. Out of respect for privacy, Zelnick is forced to leave reporters and inquirers distant as to what is really going on in Lohan’s life. This type of stone walling all questions often comes off as if the client is hiding something. This in turn leads to speculation.
And indeed, in the following week every outlet from the Associated Press to US Weekly ran articles speculating on Lohan’s actual health and mental state of mind.

C. July 27th, 2007 – DUI #2 Plus Cocaine
Lohan Action:
The 21-year-old actress was arrested and released on bail for investigation of misdemeanor driving under the influence and with a suspended license, and felony cocaine possession, early Tuesday in Santa Monica, less than two weeks after completing her second trip to rehab.
“I am innocent ... did not do drugs they’re not mine. I was almost hit by my assistant Tarin’s mom I appreciate everyone giving me my privacy,” Lohan wrote in an e-mail to “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush, the show reported on its Web site Tuesday night.
Police found cocaine in one of Lohan’s pockets during a pre-booking search. Police received a 911 call from the mother of Lohan’s former personal assistant saying that Lohan was chasing her in an SUV, said Lt. Alex Padilla. The assistant had quit hours before, he said.
Authorities found Lohan and the woman in a “heated debate” in the parking lot of Santa Monica’s Civic Auditorium at about 1:30 a.m.
Lohan’s arrest comes as she still faces DUI allegations connected to a Memorial Day weekend hit-and-run crash in Beverly Hills. The actress completed more than six weeks in rehab less than two weeks ago, and had checked into a recovery clinic in January.

Publicist Reaction:
Lindsay Lohan reaches a plea deal on August 23rd on misdemeanor drunken driving and cocaine charges that calls for her to spend one day in jail, serve 10 days of community service and complete a drug treatment program.
She was also placed on 36 months probation, is required to complete an 18-month alcohol education program, pay hundreds of dollars in fines and must complete a three-day county coroner program in which she'll visit a morgue and talk to victims of drunken drivers.
"It is clear to me that my life has become completely unmanageable because I am addicted to alcohol and drugs," Lohan said in a statement released by publicist Leslie Sloane Zelnik.
She said she did things she was ashamed of. "I broke the law and today I took responsibility by pleading guilty to the charges in my case."
"No matter what I said when I was under the influence on the day I was arrested, I am not blaming anyone else for my conduct other than myself. I thank God I did not injure others. I easily could have," Lohan's statement went on.
Lohan was charged earlier in the day with seven misdemeanors stemming from two drunken-driving arrests in the last four months. More serious felony drug charges were not filed, prosecutors said, because tests showed there wasn't enough cocaine on her to warrant them.
Attorney Blair Berk entered pleas on Lohan's behalf: she pleaded guilty to two counts of being under the influence of cocaine; no contest to two counts of driving with a blood-alcohol level above .08 percent and one count of reckless driving. Two counts of driving under the influence were dropped.

Analysis of Publicist’s Reaction:
“Talk about too little too late,” O’Toole commented. Over one month’s time Zelnik remained comment less about the whole situation. She issued no releases and granted no quotes. Instead she stayed passive while the frenzy of media pounced on Lohan, resulting in a complete media meltdown.
However, when the release was sent out, it was of a completely different nature. For once Lohan was actually apologizing, no more making excuses and waiting for the world to forget. Whether this was a forced move out of lack of options, or a move taken out of desire to come clean is yet to be seen.

Personal Criticisms To Reaction:
Very little can be said besides “too late,” however when the release was issued, it was very well written and apologetic. For the first time we see Lohan accept blame and apologize for her actions. I do believe the old cliché goes, “admittance is the first step to recovery,” and I think all parties involved would agree that spin wise it’s the best angle that she could take, one she should have taken a year ago.

II. Nicole Richie
A. December 11th, 2006 – DUI #2 Plus Cocaine
Richie’s Actions:
Nicole Richie was arrested for DUI early and was booked at 4:50 AM. She was later released around 7:15 A.M. Two motorists spotted her SUV going the wrong way on the 134 Freeway in Burbank. The drivers called 911. When the CHP responded, Richie was stopped in the carpool lane and was alone in the vehicle. When cops approached the vehicle, Richie was on her cell phone.
At the time, Nicole Richie admitted she had taken Vicodin and smoked pot. A preliminary alcohol-screening device revealed that Nicole was not under the influence of alcohol. One law enforcement source was quoted as saying she was "very cooperative and very humble."
This is not the first brush Richie has had with substance abuse. In 2003, she pled guilty to heroin possession. The charges were dismissed after she completed the terms of her probation.

Publicist Reaction:
In a release, Nanci Ryder is quoted as saying, “Nicole Richie has vowed to accept responsibility for her arrest for driving under the influence on Monday and will deal with any other issues related to the incident.”
She was then released from custody after posting $15,000 bail and is waiting to learn the results of a blood test. Ryder continued, "This is a difficult time for Nicole but she is prepared to accept whatever responsibility is appropriate. She intends to continue with her career and will deal with any other issues that need to be addressed."

Analysis of Publicist’s Reaction:
“It’s another classic full-frontal apology, but when the shoe fits wear it,” said O’Toole. Again we see the need for more than just a no comment, and in doing so a level of respect can begin to be established. However, to maintain respect the publicist and client must remain credible and genuinely truthful.

We can see through this video released after the apology that, even despite best efforts, she cannot create an image that is truly believable by a public audience.
O’Toole adds, “But still, you have to appreciate all the hours of coaching that Ryder must have put into the interview, her sentences are so beautifully crafted, think how long it took her to memorize those things.”
But ultimately, even the well-rehearsed lines add a level of non-sincerity that makes this apology effort fall short.

Personal Criticisms To Reaction:
The amount of pure time and effort spent in the apology on ABC testifies to the amount of dedication Ryder can allocate to a client in time of crisis if need be. Looking at her clear routes of communications planning you can see that she had a clear set of messages she wanted Richie to convey, and in the end you can see that Richie delivers a good attempt at a heartfelt apology.
Ultimately, even if the apology failed to bring in the polar ends of the spectrum that were jaded by her actions the apology should still be considered as somewhat of a success, in that in the very least she did not hide and play coward, and instead approached her problems head on.

III. Paris Hilton
A. September 7th, 2006 – DUI #1
Paris’s Action:
Paris Hilton was arrested in Hollywood early Thursday and charged with driving under the influence. LAPD officers noticed Paris driving her Mercedes McLaren SLR erratically at 12:31 AM and stopped her. They believed she exhibited signs of intoxication. They administered a field sobriety test, and Paris blew a .08. In California, driving with a .08 blood alcohol level is the minimum level for DUI.
Paris was arrested and taken to the LAPD Hollywood division, where she was booked. The officers who stopped the car did not know it was Paris Hilton until they approached the vehicle on foot. Police sources say she was cooperative. Paris had a passenger in the car -- Kimberly Stewart, Rod Stewart's daughter.

Publicist Reaction:

Elliot Mintz of B|W|R, assistant to Nanci Ryder, was on hand to drive Paris home later that evening, after entering the house with Hilton for just under a hour, he reemerged ready to face the flock of paparazzi and deliver a statement. The statement suggests Paris Hilton had very little to eat through out the whole day, and was shooting a video earlier. She had one drink earlier in the day, and her Breathalyzer test for her blood alcohol level was below the legal limit. In reality the level had just exceeded the legal limit.
Ryder and Mintz followed the next morning with a release restating the information and adding "Of course these matters are never to be taken lightly," said Mintz, who noted that it is "unfortunate she was behind the wheel of a car even with one drink." The statement ended with, "It's her first offense and hopefully it will never happen again."

Analysis of Publicist’s Reaction:
Perhaps the quickest reaction to event in the ones covered in this study, it is important to note how Mintz’s quick response may have been well timed, but poorly thought out. As the tape will show, Mintz clearly looks angered and annoyed by the press. While it is late and the circumstances surrounding the paparazzi are intimidating, his message was later quoted in over 20 publications, and could have portrayed Hilton as taking the whole thing “lightly” as the USA Today reported.
Upon noticing this lapse in judgment however, the B|W|R team fixed their error and followed up with a press release that not only reaffirmed the seriousness of the allegation, but assured the press that Hilton would take responsibility.
“It’s very surprising and refreshing to see a publicist be that hands on and confronting with the press, too often publicists hide behind blackberry’s and computer screens and their messages aren’t taken seriously,” said O’Toole. She added, “Here’s a good example of a head-on approach that wasn’t only noticed, but probably was too strong for its own good.”

Personal Criticisms To Reaction:
Out of the cases we’ve looked at in this report, I find this particular reaction the most pro-active solution to a big problem. I admire Mintz’s ability to handle such an unruly mob like the paparazzi. While his message and researching abilities may have been extremely limited due to time, I think Mintz made a gutsy call that needed to be made. To simply hide in Hilton’s mansion would have been too easy of a solution. Instead he made the decision that got his message across in a serious manner.

B. February 27th, 2007 – Caught With Suspended License On Probation
Paris’s Action:
Hilton was cited for driving on a suspended license after police stopped her for speeding and driving without her headlights on late Tuesday. She was pulled over on Sunset Boulevard in her blue Bentley Continental GTC at 11 p.m., said Sgt. Duane Allen Jr. of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. Hilton was alone and there was no sign of drinking or drugs.

Publicist Reaction:
Nanci Ryder released a statement saying she was on her way home from buying DVDs at Virgin Megastore in West Hollywood after spending the day at home for a photo shoot.
Ryder claimed Hilton didn't realize the car's headlights weren't on because she had just left a parking structure that was brightly lit. She was told by police she was stopped for not having the headlights turned on. Speeding was not mentioned, Hilton said.
"When she called me, she asked if her license was suspended," Ryder said early Wednesday. "If that's the case, she and I are unaware of it." The 26-year-old starlet was picked up by a friend and taken home after the incident. Her car was impounded.

Analysis of Publicist’s Reaction:
“This was well regarded as a poor effort by Ryder, maybe she was having an off day when it came to spin,” O’Toole said. She added, “Oh, my license is suspended?” “I didn’t know officer, I’m just too busy saving the world and feeding starving children,” O’Toole laughed.
The manner in which Ryder shrugged off the clear violation of probation using ignorance as an excuse is a classic example of a PR tactic too often used and abused. It makes one question the priorities of someone who doesn’t even know they’ve lost their license. Most of all, it fails to deliver any course of action, or change to suggest Hilton has learned anything.
Ultimately this tactic proves largely ineffective and results in a long legal battle between the State of California and Hilton in which Hilton ends up serving jail time.

Personal Criticisms To Reaction:
This further proves that in the ever-growing world of media accountability simply using ignorance, as a blind will not work anymore. Instead websites like can quickly produce evidence proving that Hilton had signed documents shortly after her DUI arrest stating that she in fact knew her license was suspended. And moreover we all know that ignorance is not an exemption from the law.
Again we see a lack of research and planning in Ryder’s approach, such a weak excuse is easily foiled by even website amateurs with the Freedom of Information Act. However it is important to tell the truth in P.R., sadly if this really was the case that Hilton honestly didn’t know it speaks more to her lack of character not to know better. Regardless, a better approach should have been implemented.


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