By Belguin Prosper L
“Prosper, there is a public relations crisis looming around Bebe Cool as if his reputation was offered as a “burnt sacrifice” to some gods causing mayhem to his brand. Who is bewitching Bebe cool?” someone asked me.
I honestly had no answer. I simply told the person that I believed Bebe Cool was mature enough to know what is best for him. However, deep down in my heart, I was honestly concerned for Bebe Cool as a fan at least.
From the look of things (not necessarily a fact), it seems as though there is nothing Bebe Cool can do that to please majority Ugandans especially youth without him putting much effort. They rush so fast to notice his mistakes and under-look the good in him.
I do market intelligence and strategy (including PR strategy) and from my experience, I can tell good from bad PR strategies. The effects of bad strategy can be immense with some biting even after a seemingly well-crafted strategy, only for everything to later and suddenly crumble down in a turn of unexpected events.
It is common for public figures and celebrities to face a media crisis, maybe because of events or controversy in statements. Literally by virtue of their social position, anything can cause a PR advantage or crisis to them.
However, it is important to note that most of the PR crises faced by celebrities or public figures are due to two reasons; they act without thinking (half-baked strategies), or they think without acting (no strategy at all).
Most celebrities and public figures do not know that being a public figure or celebrity, does not necessarily make you a professional at managing your own public relations strategy or relations crisis. This is because you might be famous, but it does not mean you are popular as you might want to assume.
Those two are different and it takes good strategy to build both. For example, Bebe Cool is undoubtedly good at music and because of music, he has become famous. But being famous does not necessarily make him popular, though at times one can be both famous and popular.
Being famous does not always guarantee being popular.
That is a science most public figures and celebrities forget. Actually, some people often think that being famous and popular are the same thing. They forget that the two are different.
In the same spirit, being a wonderful musician does not make Bebe Cool good at everything including managing his own public relations. As a celebrity or public figure, you will always be scrutinized by partners, competitors, fans, ‘frenemies’ and enemies.
Most of the times, the scrutiny will be bent towards challenging you as an individual and will focus on triggering you to embark on an endeavor that will either make you, or break you. The strategy you lay in between, is what makes the difference.
Most times, celebrities or public figures such as Bebe Cool, are scrutinized and often forget that the scrutinizers are trying to challenge their logical reasoning, emotional intelligence and aptitude. Sometimes the scrutiny gets too personal that these public figures and celebrities act without thinking and because they are filled with emotions or a desire to prove a point, they respond basing on emotions (ego, regret, anger, fear among othjers).
Often, this causes a PR crisis which in an effort to clear the mess, the individual messes up more. Slowly, they begin to lose the popularity much as they stay famous. For clarity, being famous is simply a state of being widely known by the public. When you are famous, it means you are widely known that you exist, and what you do.
On the other hand, being popular is a state of being loved by the masses with great favor, affection and approval from the masses. It means you do not have to labor so hard to prove a point to them in everything or anything you do.
You receive little or no resistance from the masses. In most cases, the people will actually always genuinely bring themselves to you, even if it means risking something. With the way things have been happening, it is high time Bebe Cool realized the difference between the two.
It is important to understand that being popular is much more relevant than being famous. Anyone can get famous, even overnight. But being popular takes a lot more than appearing in a front-page ad or getting a retweet from the pope.
I have noticed that Bebe Cool has been under the spotlight these past days over the arrest of the two Nigerian musicians, I took time to do a survey and realized that actually Bebe Cool’s name has been mentioned by Nigerians and Ugandans a lot.
This, kind of made him a trending topic in Africa especially in the entertainment world. Bebe Cool used the same period to release his song “Surrender”.
In my sense as market intelligence and strategy expert, I think Bebe Cool did what I term as “swimming the tide”, meaning he took advantage of the situation to make his song viral by virtue of the fact that he was being mentioned a lot, hoping it would be viewed and received by many.
In my own analysis, I think Bebe Cool just shot himself in the foot. He is facing a PR crisis that has made him famous but not popular. What is fame without popularity in this world of showbiz and entertainment? Without popularity, no brand can associate themselves with you.
Brands sign contracts with celebrities and public figures to advertise their products, because such people are assumed to be famous, however popularity is what keeps the money coming in for such brands.
If a person’s popularity rate keeps falling, it means no more customers for that product to which a celebrity or public figure is attached.
Fame is what gets a celebrity a contract, but popularity is what ultimately keeps the money coming in. If popularity fails, fame is useless.
It is akin to having a gun without a bullet magazine. In turn, because the person is getting less and lesser popular because the masses are biased over him or her, that bias will cross over to an innocent company’s products which that person represents and it will affect sales.
I think Bebe Cool needs to realise that he is absolutely famous, but his popularity is at risk if he does not wake up to the reality of finding a PR solution to his reputation.
Bebe Cool is naturally a good musician but how he handles his public relations starting with how he responds in interviews, how he does his brand positioning and placement, how he discusses other people, how he discusses non-music related topics and research and ultimately how he handles his opponents of whatsoever capacity or field, is very critical towards sustaining the commercial value (not just the social perception) of his career in not just Uganda but other countries too.
He needs to fully understand the difference between being famous and being popular, then he can make an honest self-assessment about himself as a brand and draft the right strategies to bridge any gaps if any.
He also has the right to ignore this important piece of advice if he honestly believes that his brand “Bebe Cool” is on the right track. But it should not be forever an excuse that his PR crisis is based on his political affiliation.
So many other musicians including but not limited to Ragga Dee are still popular regardless of their political affiliations. It is always about how one handles themselves and the strategies in between that govern or run their public relations direction.
The writer is the founder and CEO at Young and Free International Limited, a youth supporting, market intelligence and lobbying firm.