Wait – What Did Jodie Foster Just Say?

 Wait   What Did Jodie Foster Just Say?The reviews for Jodie Foster’s Golden Globes acceptance speech are in, and they’re mixed. After winning the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement award for 47 years in the business, Foster gave a speech that continues to confuse the media and Twitterverse. The recurring complaint: What on earth did it all mean? Foster’s messaging had everyone baffled.

This was a complicated speech. She touched on many issues, but the headliner for the media was that this was her official “coming out” announcement. The key words “I hope that you’re not disappointed that there won’t be a big coming-out speech tonight” ensured it was exactly that. But Foster was of the view that this was not big news; she gave the impression that her orientation was widely understood already. Cue more messaging – plenty more, and that ‘s where the confusion began.

She touched on the importance of privacy, her love of movies, the need to be heard and seen in life, and then what sounded like the real bombshell – the announcement about retiring from the film industry, at least in front of the camera. Yet backstage, she assured the media she would continue to act and direct. Then what was she talking about?

THE PR VERDICT: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Jodie Foster. We give this grade reluctantly; her speech deserves a higher rating, but the subsequent press reaction indicates otherwise.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: One message, fine; two, guaranteed confusion. And two announcements – she’s out, and she’s out of the business, or is she? – is just overwhelming. This was not a rambling speech, but it was a complicated one. For a six-minute awards monologue, it was probably too ambitious for a public that wants everything in a six-second headline. This might have been better placed in a longer, more considered format and venue, such as a talk show. (Jodie, meet Oprah.) Critics and the public continue to scratch their heads, but Jodie Foster, perhaps best known for being an independent spirit, probably wouldn’t have it any other way.

Anderson Cooper: PR Perfect

 Anderson Cooper: PR Perfect

The PR Verdict: “A” (Gold Star!) for Anderson Cooper and his PR regarding his coming out.

So Anderson Cooper, CNN’s biggest “name” anchor, has confirmed he is gay. Cooper hit the headlines earlier this week with his e-mail correspondence to journalist and blogger  Andrew Sullivan, which included the unequivocal message, “The fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be.” The phrase was reprinted endlessly over the next three days. The media wondered if anyone was shocked or scandalized. The definitive response: No.

From a PR point of view, this was handled perfectly. Cooper had never publicly indicated if he was–or wasn’t. That changed when a recent feature in Entertainment Weekly examined how celebrities handle coming out. Andrew Sullivan approached Cooper for comment, and Cooper’s response made headlines.

Cooper crafted a number of well-worded, thoughtful paragraphs explaining his reasons for coming out now and his previous reticence. He sent them to Sullivan who republished it in full, with Cooper’s permission. Next step: Cooper was unavailable for any interviews due to being on assignment. The void was filled with praise and endorsements from friends and colleagues. Nicely handled.

The PR Verdict: “A” (Gold Star!) for Anderson Cooper and his PR regarding his coming out.  Simple message, no details, well expressed, STOP.

The PR Takeaway: This was an elegant PR exercise. Closeted celebrities, take note: Keep the message and the delivery simple. Make your point clearly. Say what you have to say and make sure it is unedited (therefore, stay away  from lengthy sit-down TV interviews). Place it with a friendly media source, and then be unavailable. Nothing more to add. Nothing more to explain. And, in Cooper’s case, get back to saving the world.

Will Anderson Cooper’s self-outing have any repercussions? Should he have come out, or kept himself out of the limelight? Give us your PR Verdict!