Oprah – a PR dream?

One celebrity who is possibly a public relations dream client in managing to generate positive headlines globally is Oprah Winfrey.  Opening her South African School, she neatly addresses questions about why she hasn’t opened the school in America – and counters some criticism that the school is too opulent. 

With a net worth of $1 billion ( #9 most powerful woman in the world), she can easily afford the $40 million investment in the school and takes a clear position on the value of direct action on an issue she cares about.  There is no obvious criticism (yet) of the party of hundreds of showbiz pals at the opening of the school – and maybe some of them will be influenced or at least learn something about Africa.    Each was asked to sign and donate a book to the school’s library, which is a nice touch.

Media coverage for Oprah contrasts with the furore that followed Madonna’s adoption and plans for an orphanage in Malawi – even today, papers such as the  are negative: “The dad of Madonna’s adopted tot has begged the pop star to let him know how the child is doing.”

Is this a matter of reputation?  Does Oprah have consistent values that Madonna doesn’t?  Is Oprah’s management of the media better?  Is Oprah’s position as a media tycoon herself a factor (interesting that Madonna appeared on Oprah’s show to respond to media criticism)? 

It is rare to see universally positive media coverage given to celebrities – but initial monitoring seems to indicate that if anyone can pull off a PR dream it is Oprah. 

Tech Tags:

Published by

Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.

2 thoughts on “Oprah – a PR dream?”

  1. It shows a human, caring side, this could be the year of the philanthorpist, an extension of CSR for celebs. I would do the same if I had her money, you can only spend so much of it on clothes and holidays, the best thing a wealthy person can do is help improve the lives of others by sharing his/her good fortune.

  2. I agree that generosity is a trait everyone should reflect – it is interesting that what Oprah and other celebs do with their money in regard to good causes is criticised by some commentators (emerging in the US) more than their ridiculous consumerist spending.

    We’ve become a little cynical, however, about celebs and corporate social responsibility, believing they want to be seen to do good rather than being good. Should individuals and organisations be less public in their philanthropy – or is recognition of their largesse now vital?

Comments are closed.