Kate Middleton’s most recent tabloid scandal involved pictures of the princess topless on vacation in France with Prince William. First published in the French magazine Closer, the pictures became an instant sensation. Although Closer was ordered to remove the photos, several other magazines — including the Irish magazine Chi and Irish newspaper Irish Star Daily — picked up the story. The photos went viral online, with British newspaper The Daily Mail reporting that one in five adults with Internet access have seen the pictures.
For a princess who does everything right, this should have been a devastating blow. Instead, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are coming out with their heads held high, playing the victim, and suing the French magazine for an invasion of privacy. The photos were taken while the prince and his wife were on vacation at a private estate in the South of France. Millions of Kate’s admirers have taken her side, with public figures like Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, speaking out against what she called “a devastating invasion of one’s personal inner space.” The Daily Mail reports that, in a poll by YouGov, three-quarters of the nearly 1,600 people polled agreed Will and Kate had the right to pursue legal action.
And just days later, Kate had the good grace to laugh as she was greeted by topless women in the Solomon Islands, proving to the public everywhere that she has a great sense of humor and poise — and that her personal brand remains as strong as ever.
In building your personal brand, make sure to follow Kate’s example. If some incriminating pictures should crop up on Facebook, or a friend should tag you in a less-than-flattering tweet, make sure to address it right away. Trying to ignore the issue will only make it seem like you don’t care about the impression you’re giving potential employers. Ask your friend to delete the tweet or remove the picture.
Remain calm and professional. Posting similarly incriminating content as a way to get back at your friend will get you nowhere, and present you as childish and petty. Instead, explain to your friends you are using your social media profiles as a way to apply to jobs and connect with business professionals. Let them know anything less than professional could be detrimental to your career.
Then, take steps to prevent future incriminating material. Adjust your Facebook privacy settings to require your approval when friends tag you in pictures or posts. That way, you can vet everything that appears on your timeline. While Twitter privacy setting are a little harder to tweak, just make sure you keep all your tweets clean and professional. Warn your friends you’ll have to block them on Twitter should they continue to associate your Twitter handle with unprofessional content. Or consider creating a separate Twitter handle for your personal life, so you can still connect with your friends and keep your tweets professional.
Follow these steps and you’ll have a squeaky clean personal brand like Princess Kate in no time!
Are you doing enough to combat negative publicity? How can you prevent incriminating yourself on your social profiles?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011),#ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.