owen-wilsonThis has been a truly cruel summer for Hollywood celebrities. Dubbed recently by Entertainment Weekly as the \”summer of scandal\”, we\’ve witnessed a staggering number of celebs take their respective falls from grace. From Brittney to Paris to most recently Owen (all proud members of the Only First Name Necessary Club), each has had to endure not only the consequences of their actions but in the glaring klieg lights that are today\’s celebrity gossip and press.

With more and more blogs tracking even the smallest details of the now mocked \”Hollywood royalty\”, today\’s celebrity has to defend their image from numerous angles. While it used to be easy to hide behind the shields of their lawyers, managers and publicists, many of the embattled celebs are using online marketing channels help both get the word out and hopefully control the message (or at least contain it somewhat)

Take for example the recent alleged suicide attempt by the actor Owen Wilson. Like most salacious stories of this nature, the news was first broken online via the site TMZ, which has become one of the most dominant players in the celeb watching blogosphere that is everywhere these days. Obviously not wanting to give any interviews about the situation and in major damage control mode, Owen was forced to make a statement imploring the press to respect his wishes of privacy. In this case, he was not able to control the message.

While it\’s admirable for celebrities to make personal, if obviously rehearsed, pleas, using the standard letter of denial or canned response isn\’t always the wise choice. We live in an extremely media savvy society who is all too aware when a celebrity is being insincere or worse not saying anything at all. Celebs need to be not only personal but also proactive in times of crisis. This is where digital marketing can help.

Now, let\’s look at the Owen Wilson example if he and his team had employed digital marketing techniques to address his alleged suicide attempt. While his publicist would insist a statement be released to the press, what team Owen could have done is to address his fans directly via an email message or even a voice or text message (obtained via some sort of fan database) asking for their support and understanding. After all, it\’s the fans that keep such celebrities in the limelight and make them \”bankable.\”

It\’s not simply enough for a celebrity to post a notice on the Web site, MySpace page, blog, etc. That\’s too passive a measure, especially when it comes time to do damage control. By using email or SMS or even voice to get the word out to their fans, they can help turn the tide of the public sentiment by tapping into the celebrity\’s core base, their loyal fans, sending them to spread the (carefully filtered) word to their friends, colleagues and hopefully the Web at large.

Using digital marketing strategies like this can help defuse even the stickiest situations the glitterati find themselves in when they are being watched by so many computer screens. Since it was advances in technology that have made celebrities such easy targets, shouldn\’t they, in turn, use technology to fire back? In today\’s increasingly splintered digital information era, sometimes the best defense is a good offense.