How Do Celebrities Like Kanye West Survive Controversy?

Erik Bernstein crisis management

Celebrity controversy is constantly in the news, but why is it some public figures take more lasting damage than others?

Celebrity controversy seems to drive the internet today. Why, though, are some reputations seemingly bulletproof while others are practically obliterated after their first controversial encounter? In a recent interview with Vox’s Nadra Nittle, Bernstein Crisis Management VP Erik Bernstein discussed why things are different for people in Mr. West’s position along with thoughts on whether their behavior is truly “outrageous” and “crazy” or simply calculated to attract the kind of publicity money can’t buy. Here’s a small preview, and of course you can catch the full interview over at Vox:

Nadra Nittle

How would you explain Kanye West’s enduring appeal? He’s always in the news for making some wild comments, and yet these controversies haven’t hurt his career.

Erik Bernstein

He has been in the news every single day for the last two weeks. We didn’t [recently] hear a lot about him before then. Kanye doesn’t do crazy things until he’s about to drop a new project. I think some of his behavior is more calculated than people think. I really believe he’s leaning into this for publicity. There’s a rarefied air that only major celebrities, athletes, movie stars, live in. As long as he keeps delivering his product, pretty much nothing else matters. It’s not exactly that any publicity is good publicity. If he had something like #MeToo allegations, that would be a problem, even for Kanye. But his controversies really don’t harm his career.

Click here to read the full article, “How Kanye West’s brand survives his controversies, explained by a crisis PR expert” on

Erik Bernstein

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