Miley Cyrus: PR Dream or Nightmare?


Even if you didn’t watch the 2013 VMAs on MTV, you still knew about Miley Cyrus’ “controversial” and “racy” performance. Miley’s string of questionable behavior  has captured international attention. Then her knack for headlines took off like a rocket the night of the VMAs and flew even faster with her Terry Richardson-directed Wrecking Ball video, replete with sledgehammer licking and nudity. Is Miley bigger than ever? Yes. Is she controversial? Yes. Is she a PR nightmare? Absolutely not.

Backlash? or Promotion?


The sign photographed above is cute, funny and attention getting, perfect advertisement for a bar  the day after Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance in August. In her performance, Miley broke out in a teddy bear leotard to sing her hit single, We Can’t Stop, and then proceeded with a  “twerking” number which involved singing Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines as she rubbed her behind against Thicke. As it all went down on live television, the Internet launched a social media frenzy, and news producers were immediately on their PDAs of choice. Clearly, with the backlash and controversy the performance generated, one would think that this event was simply a performance gone wrong.

The sign above made sense right?

Well…not exactly. If her publicist did have a drink that day, it would have been a cause for celebration.

In an MTV documentary called Miley Cyrus: The Movement, Miley openly talks about the media attention that surrounded her performance.

“You’re always gonna make people talk, you might as well make them talk for like two weeks rather than two seconds,” she said.

The Reward

According to Forbes magazine Cyrus topped Google’s  hot searches after adding 100,000 Instagram followers and 50,000 Facebook likes. Billboard magazine reported the performance garnered 306,100 Tweets per minute during the East Coast airing of the show. To compare, last year’s VMAs had a peak of 98,307 Tweets per minute, whereas the Presidential election night in 2012  saw a Tweets per minute peak of 327,452.

Since Miley’s performance, she has scored two number one hit singles (We Can’t Stop, Wrecking Ball) and her album Bangerz debuted at number one in October.

Miley’s performance was meant to rival the controversial performances of past VMA trending topics, from Britney Spears to Madonna, from Lady Gaga to Beyoncé, Miley knew she had to stir the pot before she could truly begin her journey as the artist Miley Cyrus and breakaway from the Hannah Montana mold as a teenager.

The Difference

In this generation, we’ve seen child star after child star go from innocent breakout sensation to troubled hot mess in court. Lindsay Lohan is most notably used as an adjective to describe this cycle. But there’s a difference between doing bad things in your free time, and doing seemingly bad things in your “art.”

There’s a difference between Lindsay Lohan vomiting outside of a night club and Miley Cyrus twerking on MTV. There’s a difference between Justin Bieber spitting, degrading former President Bill Clinton and Miley telling her fans to embrace who they are as individuals. There’s a difference between getting naked for a music video and getting naked in the streets, high on drugs. Miley is in control as long as she keeps her behavior exclusive to her performances and her music. Her talent is what got her here, and it’s her tenacity that will allow her to stay.

Until she ends up in jail for shoplifting or drug possession, her publicist should be able to sleep just fine, knowing that her client is fulfilling her dreams.

Do you think Miley Cyrus is a PR dream or nightmare?


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2 Responses to Miley Cyrus: PR Dream or Nightmare?

  1. Katlyn Orton says:

    I think this is a great example of modern day celebrities’ publicity. Most people would look at Miley Cyrus and think she is a PR mess. As you said in your post, her VMA performance, “Wrecking Ball” video and overall personality is overly racy and very controversial. But, like you, after watching her Miley: The Movement documentary, I realized that this is the image she is going for. She does this all on purpose and WANTS to be controversial. With that being said, I would assume she would employ a publicist who thoroughly understands and supports this. In the documentary, Miley said how she plans all of these crazy stunts and tactics out and knows what she is doing at all times. I would assume her publicist most likely expects this from her and is on board with her image. So, yes, while there are many publicists out there that would never represent Miley, there are still probably many who “get her” and would love to.

  2. Charlotte Das says:

    I think for now, Miley Cyrus is playing it smart and is secretly a PR genius. It is the VMAs! The awards show where Britney Spears and Madonna famously kissed on stage. This show is meant for controversy and eyebrow-raising acts. I think a lot of people are too sensitive about every little thing that celebrities do. In this case, there is hard evidence that Miley’s performance is working in her favor. She has increased likes/followers on her social media pages and she has also released two hits in the meantime. People can’t get enough of her! So I don’t get what Miley has to be upset about. Her career is taking off. The only thing that I would be wary of is how these acts and a sharp increase in fame can potentially cause future problems, such as the Lindsay Lohan antics that you mentioned. As long as Miley focuses on her career, I think these risqué acts are fair game.

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