Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Media Crisis Aversion 101: 5 Things Musicians Can Learn From False Rumors of Jon Bon Jovi's Demise

Twitter and Facebook were aflutter yesterday with the (false) rumor that Jon Bon Jovi was dead. So rampant was this rumor, media types such as Piers Morgan, Showbiz Tonight, and TMZ took to social media to dispel it. Not long after, Jon Facebook posted this photo of himself in front of a Christmas tree, holding a handwritten sign that read,"Heaven looks a lot like New Jersey" with the date and time.

End of rumor, yes. End of media reports? Quite the contrary...with a pronounced twist: now, the angle was about Jon's good-natured response.

By taking charge of the rumor in a way that was organically in line with his image and his band's image, the story now had legs that worked to his advantage and reminded people what they like about Jon Bon Jovi. Nearly 24 hours after the rumor was put to rest, the national media and people who weren't even Bon Jovi fans were still talking about it. (Person who started the rumor: 0. Bon Jovi: 10,000.)

I heard that...Some jaded person in the back of the room just accused Jon Bon Jovi of starting the whole thing as a publicity stunt. I'm jaded myself, and have smelled more than a few rats in my time, and this doesn't stink. Starting rumors of his own death isn't Jon's style. What is Jon's style, is taking control of a situation and turning it into a postive situation.    

Here's what you can learn from Jon Bon Jovi when adverting a potential media crisis:

1. Take hold of the situation, in a way that gives you control of the message.

2. Remember what your fans like about you, and make sure your message fits. Setting aside his music for a moment, as a celebrity Jon Bon Jovi is known for his charm, his looks, and being comfortable with who he is and where he came from. In the picture Jon tweeted in response to the rumor, he looks the way his fans and the media expect him to look, and the sign he's holding up affirms his New Jersey roots and sense of humor.

3. If your image and previous campaigns have been consistent, find a subtle way to tie the message in to something you did in the past and make an inside joke of it for  fans in the know--without alienating potential new fans. For longtime fans, part of the humor in Jon's picture is that the sign he holds up is slightly reminiscent of something a kidnap victim might hold up, harkening back to the imagery from the band's New Jersey-era "Jersey Syndicate" tour. For anyone not familiar with that tour, subconsciously the message might be, "Jon's day may have been partially kidnapped by social media reports, but he wasn't about to be a victim."    

4. To pull of #2, the message and your image have to be organic and believable. The reason people are still taking about the incident today is that people who'd been following Jon Bon Jovi's career long enough to know anything about him smiled and said, "That's so Jon..."  Jon's been at this long enough that "Jon the person" and "Jon Bon Jovi the image" have grown organically together into something he's comfortable with, so doing things that fit his image comes naturally. New artists should always ask themselves,when considering anything image or media related, "Is this an image I'm comfortable with? Can I live up to this image ten or fifteen years from now?"       

5. Get in, state your message, and get out. After Jon's Facebook post, he went back to preparing for that night's charity show and let everyone else do the talking.

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