Recently, Roxy Jacenko, founder of the Sweaty Betty PR firm, was featured on 60 Minutes International. The interview was about her battling cancer and facing life as a single mother after her husband, Oliver Curtis, was put in prison a few months previous for being part of an insider trading scheme in New South Wales, Australia. What he was charged for happened long before the two met each other, and none of what he gained from those actions was part of the family income. That comes almost exclusively from her successful companies, including one owned and headed by her five-year-old daughter, Pixie. Pixie Bows is a multimillion-dollar company.
The family has had a rough 12 months, starting with a PR rival photoshopping pictures of Pixie (at four years old) into pornographic images and putting them on the web. Then came the court case against her husband and the cancer diagnosis. All while running her three companies, the primary one her PR firm, Sweaty Betty, which is all about promoting fashion lines and the industry. As part of that business, she posts on Instagram every day an elevator picture with her in an outfit of the day. She continued to do that throughout her husband’s trial. People didn’t like it. People also said it was her fault that some sick colleague did what they did with her daughter’s pictures. Finally, they now declare after seeing the 60 Minutes program that from one brief section of the interview of her office set up that she hired a bunch of clones that looked and dressed just like her. The comments on social media were pretty mean too.
Roxy’s personality, at least what she shows the world, falls on the brash and in-your-face side. But still the backlash on what was a pretty positive interview, one in which she was as open and candid as imaginable, was extreme. Those should all be positive and work well under the current thinking of crisis PR. In this case, not so much.
What can be learned? Openness and transparency should also be tempered to the situation. She’s a beautiful woman who handles herself well (for the most part) in front of the camera. But she’s been judged by these emotional events in her life, and in the public eye, and she’s been found wanting. The judge in her husband’s case singled her out just because she showed up for all court hearings wearing high fashion but that’s her business. She probably doesn’t have a lot of clothing that doesn’t fit that bill that would also be appropriate for court. She’s really good at what she does, as proved by her success. She works very hard, and since her two children were born, her husband did most of the child care and taking care of the home front while she provided.
Those should all be good things, but when people have judged someone to be less-than, just about anything can be twisted to look bad, and that’s what has been happening with Roxy. So laying low and keeping any media interviews to a minimum may be the best course of action. When people are actually leaving messages that she deserves to get cancer, or implying she doesn’t know her job just because of the name of her company. Lay low and allow people to forget not your business per se, but your personality and public persona.
For now, we wish Roxy the best and we hope she wins the battle against the big C quickly, and that her kids find a level of normalcy in life for probably another 10 months without their father.