Petraeus Scandal Sisters Trashed in T&C

 Petraeus Scandal Sisters Trashed in T&C

The PR Verdict: “D” (PR Problematic) for Jill Kelley and sister Natalie Khawam (pictured left, with lawyer Gloria Allred).

What happened to the David Petraeus scandal? The temperature surrounding twin sisters Jill Kelley, the famous “Tampa socialite,” and her now equally famous twin sister Natalie Khawam continues to head in the wrong direction. The latest issue of Town & Country Magazine must have both sisters fuming. In a feature called “A Four Star Scandal,” journalist Vicky Ward describes the sisters as nothing short of scandal plagued and “on the make” (which does make for amusing reading).

Jill Kelley is the woman invariably described in media shorthand as the “Tampa socialite” involved in the Petraeus scandal. She was known to give extravagant parties attended by the top military brass, including General David Petraeus, a four-star general and then head of the CIA. Arguably, his affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell only came to light due to e-mails from Broadwell telling Kelley to back off from Petraeus. (Still with us?) The e-mails precipitated the end of Petraeus’s distinguished career.

The gist of T&C’s profile of sisters Jill and Natalie? That they’re social climbers who drop names at every opportunity while running up massive debts and scheming to snare moneyed men. Both sisters have indicated to some media outlets that they are now considering their legal and PR options. (Natalie has already retained notorious lawyer Gloria Allred.) Unfortunately, the horse has already bolted from the stable door.

THE PR VERDICT: ”D” for Jill Kelley and Natalie Khawam. This is one social comeback that will be hard to manage.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Find SOMETHING to say, even if it’s via a publicist. The article quotes any number of sources and former acquaintances willing to drive in the stiletto. With both sisters declining to be interviewed, a sober and measured statement from a third party publicist was in order. “No comment” might be a valid choice, but having no voice at all made the twins lose their PR battle from the outset. Next time, make sure there is another voice to counterbalance the slant. An e-mailed statement, for example, can change everything; the sisters, of all people, should have known that.

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What is Your PR Verdict?

  1. I don’t find the social trashpots at all hard to understand – what I find incomprehensible is how senior officers seem to have allowed themselves to be entrapped by these poseurs. Even if P’s own instincts seem to have let him down, how in the world can a General Officer’s security staff have failed to warn him of these two? It seems that P may have been somewhere between careless and accident-prone, and neither are good descriptions for senior appointments.
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