The 5 PR Tricks Famous People Use in a Public Apology

#2. Going on a Late Night Show Tricks People into Forgiving You Faster

Perhaps one of the best and most efficient ways to ensure that your public apology goes off without a hitch is to issue it on a late night talk show -- in fact, that's probably the only reason those things still exist. Hugh Grant knew this all the way back in '95 and apologized on Jay Leno's show for being caught with a prostitute and cheating on his wife. Jonah Hill went on Jimmy Fallon's show to issue yet another top-notch apology, and Gary Oldman followed suit by appearing on Jimmy Kimmel to issue his second (and better received) apology.

ABC
"Remember when I was in Harry Potter? Remember how magical that was?"

Meanwhile, Letterman was able to skip the middleman and go straight to the "making fun of the scandal" phase. But why does this work so well? Basically, because laughter lulls our feeble brains into a false sense of security. The sooner we laugh after their apology, the quicker we are to forget their bad actions and feel like it's OK to be their fan again. If they let weeks go by without a lighthearted late show appearance, that leaves us too much time to actually think about how awful they are.

And even if you don't watch the show, you bet your ass every site will be talking about the apology the next day and reposting the funniest clips, thus helping bury the awfulness. You'd have to try really hard to screw that up ...

What Not to Do: Go on a Late Show to Apologize, Not Apologize

Kanye West also tried to the Leno route when he Kanye'd all over Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the MTV VMAs, but ultimately ended up admitting he had "no regrets" over the situation, proving exactly how honest he was being.

NBC
"My only regret is that I let her begin."

#1. If It Doesn't Work, Just Try Again

You'd think that apologizing for being terrible, having the apology rejected, and then apologizing again in a different way would tip people off that you don't actually mean any of this crap -- your entire learning process consisted of firing your publicist and hiring another one to try a different combination of sorry-sounding words.

And yet, this technique works surprisingly well. When Oliver Stone made some less than savory remarks about the Holocaust and Jewish people in the media, his first apology was vague and didn't address his anti-Semitic remarks, giving the impression that he didn't give a shit. So, he tried again, using the feedback from the first apology to know exactly what to say, and the Anti-Defamation League actually forgave him.

Juan Naharro Gimenez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
"If you don't like that one, I have 15 different drafts with contradictory opinions."

Serena Williams tried to do the do-over, too. We mentioned Gary Oldman's double apology above. And going back to the ADL, when Mel Gibson issued a hurried apology the morning after his arrest saying he was sorry to "anyone who might be offended," the Anti-Defamation League basically told him to go screw himself. So he just tried another time, this time specifically addressing his racist remarks -- and it worked! People started writing articles about why he should be forgiven ...

What Not to Do: Keep Being Terrible

... until Mel got himself recorded being a racist dickwad again. Yep, not even all the tips in this article can help that guy. In conclusion, don't be Mel Gibson, you guys.

Matej Divizna/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Thanks for making Lethal Weapon rewatchings all awkward, asshole.


Hillery has a Twitter, which you can follow here.

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