In an era of constant communication on various media platforms, silence is emerging as a powerful PR strategy. A recent public dispute involving Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner serves as an example of how silence can be leveraged effectively, even amidst a storm of public speculation.
When faced with rumors, many celebrities and brands often feel compelled to address them immediately. In the Jonas-Turner scenario, while one side was fueling the gossip machine, Turner chose a different path. Instead of engaging in a public war she responded with a detailed legal document. No drama and no media interviews—just the facts.
Turner’s approach demonstrates how to use silence strategically. By choosing not to engage in a back- and-forth via the media, she shifted the narrative in her favor and waited for the perfect moment to respond with concrete evidence while taking control of the story.
Reacting immediately, especially when emotions are running high, can often lead to poor choices in communication. Silence, on the other hand, allows for reflection, planning, and a more measured response.
The modern audiences of today are more discerning and the unreliable “sources” that once held sway in tabloids now face skepticism. The public wants direct information, often from the celebrities themselves. Audiences value authenticity over constant communication. The emergence of platforms that dissect PR strategies, like TikTok, has made it even more imperative to embrace silence as a strategic tool.
Matt Wing, a communications strategist, captures this in Axios: “In today’s world, people don’t just accept everything at face value. They dissect, analyze, and form their own opinions. Authenticity is key.”
Trust in the media, especially tabloid journalism, has significantly dwindled. Digital platforms like Reddit and TikTok house content creators like Molly McPherson and a Reddit gossip sub like fauxmoi have started educating the audience about the PR world’s behind-the-scenes, making it harder for brands to spin stories.
This approach of strategic silence extends beyond just celebrities. Companies and victims of reputation attacks can use silence to their advantage. Another fitting example of silence in a crisis was in 2017 when a man named Bradley Reid asked a question on Cracker Barrel’s corporate website wanting to know why his wife had been let go from her 11-year manager position at one of the company’s Indiana locations.
The social media firestorm came quickly, with #JusticeForBradsWife trending and other brands posting signs that they would be happy to hire Brad’s wife.
Cracker Barrel’s response? Silence. The public never learned the circumstances of Brad’s wife’s job loss, and after a few months the crisis blew over.
The age-old saying, “Silence is golden,” holds more weight now than ever before. In a world inundated with noise, choosing when to speak and when to remain silent can make all the difference. As demonstrated by figures like Turner, strategic silence is not just a defense mechanism; it is an art form in disguise.