From a PR perspective, Stormy Daniels is having a pretty good year. Her alleged connection to President Trump and the accompanying scandalous rumors guaranteed Daniels a lot of press, and the porn star is taking full advantage, doing tell-all interviews, threatening lawsuits, and touring more prominently again.
Recently, Daniels was in the news yet again, vindicated after charges were dropped related to an arrest actions during a performance at a strip club. Police arrested Daniels, once again guaranteeing headlines. Then, the very next day, came the announcement that charges would be dropped. Police admitted a mistake was made in the probable cause for the arrest, before issuing a statement in which the local police chief admitted the “mistake” and accepted “full responsibility.”
The announcement about the “mistake” created two different narratives in the news and on social media. Some believed Daniels was targeted because of her outspoken negative comments about the President. This conspiracy theory tarred the local police with the same brush, forcing the chief to address those persistent allegations in an attempt to defuse them.
Daniels’ attorneys, who have shown a knack for manipulating news cycles, jumped on the narrative that Daniels was set up, calling for an in-depth investigation into the arrest, while claiming that several officers involved in the arrest clearly had a personal bias against the adult performer.
This narrative proved very popular among the groups of people of a certain social and political persuasion. Their social media accounts magnified the accusations, forcing law enforcement to respond. The other narrative said that Daniels pulled the stunt to get more attention and continue her latest round of notoriety. Apologists for this line of thinking were more likely than not to look at Daniels with disdain, as much for her opposition to President Trump as her occupation. People on the other side of the political spectrum latched onto this story, saying it’s just one more example of “the media” or “those people” trying to find anything and everything they can to attack the President. Both narratives found fertile ground on social media, and opinion-makers on both sides fanned those flames as much as they could in the short window the story was at the top of the headlines.
The key to success in that kind of effort is to be ready so you can respond as the narrative is building, rather than after the fact. If you have to begin planning how to respond after the story is over, it’s likely too late to seize the early initiative. You have to be able to move fast and shift quickly in order to influence the narrative and take advantage of the opportunity. That takes having a smart, nimble PR plan in place before opportunity arrives.