1. Advanced Planning: While their wedding took place a mere two months following a whirlwind romance that included public announcements of affection from Oprah’s set, their divorce was well orchestrated. Clearly, the couple took time to carefully plan how they would communicate their parting.
In fact, one could say Katie began forecasting the split in interviews she conducted two-three months ago with Elle and Vanity Fair. In a now infamous Elle interview she said, “I definitely feel much more comfortable in my own skin. I feel sexier. I think in my 20s, it’s like you’re trying too hard to figure everything out . . . I’m starting to come into my own. It’s like a new phase.”
Whether a divorce between husband and wife or two businesses, advance planning benefits everyone and promises better – or at least more amicable – end results.
2. Leave the Communication to the Professionals: We all remember when Charlie Sheen went at it alone sans publicist; people discovered he had tiger’s blood and Adonis DNA. To date, TomKat continue to leave their communication to their publicists. It has been mature and respectful, further boosting their public perception:
“We are committed to working together as parents to accomplish what is in our daughter Suri’s best interests. We want to keep matters affecting our family private and express our respect for each other’s commitment to each of our respective beliefs and support each other’s roles as parents,” says the statement from Holmes and Cruise’s reps, Nanci Ryder (BWR Public Relations) and Amanda Lundberg (42 West).
Companies are no different than celebrities. Trust the professionals to manage pivotal announcements impacting stakeholders’ futures. The “No comment” response – or worse, developing their own position statements and then freely speaking on the topic without objective third-party counsel – is ill advised. Not all publicity is good publicity.
3. Timing to a Tee: Quickly following news of their separation, Tom and Katie agreed to an out-of-court settlement, leaving no time for a prolonged media frenzy documenting their divorce battle (ahem, Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries) that could potentially tarnish their reputations.
Companies experiencing a falling out with what once their “better half” can a learn a thing or two from TomKat. No matter if you are reporting your divorce, annual earnings or a company split, give thought to when you deliver the news; it is equally important to how you will share it. Timing is everything.
On a personal note, I will miss reading about TomKat, but as a public relations professional, I want to thank the couple for not drawing out their divorce and clogging the news cycle with fluffy headlines about who will receive what and how Suri will spend her time between the two. Now, moving on to more important news…