Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard trial: A lesson in crisis/litigation management

For those following the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard trial, it is difficult to distinguish whether it is a trial or a circus. Not since the O.J. case has there been so much interest and chatter about a celebrity legal case.

And it’s not an accident.

We know that all “A” list celebrities have PR publicists working the media to spin their side of the story. Now that we live in an age of social media where everybody has a voice, it is even more visible.

When it was Johnny’s turn on the stand, the social media chatter was clearly on his side. Hashtags and nasty comments about Amber were everywhere. People called her crazy. Depp’s PR team had the upper hand.

So what was Heard’s response? She fired her PR firm.

According to online sources, she was furious at the bad headlines she was getting. So she switched publicists. However, she did it right before she took the stand and had a chance to tell her side of the story.

Whether the new PR people have done any better getting her side of the story out is debatable. The anti-Heard damage was deep and widespread.

The lesson to be learned is you don’t get much by killing the messenger. The trial was broadcast live, and people were able to make their own decisions and post their own thoughts without going through the filter of Amber’s PR team.

There is only so much a PR team can do to spin an image when courtroom testimony brights out craziness. But it was a move that Heard should have thought about before dumping the publicists who had been following the trial since its beginning. She never gave them a chance to help tell her side of the story.

And judging from the headlines and social media that continue to favor Depp, her kneejerk reaction to switch publicists before they had a chance, was simply foolish.