Chris Brown: Apology or PR Stunt?

Many of you are aware of the fight that took place between Chris Brown and then-girlfriend Rihanna in February, which sent Rihanna to the hospital and resulted in a court mandated restraining order against Brown.

After remaining mum on the issue for months, Brown recently posted a two-minute video apology. Although his lawyer had apparently advised him to stay under the radar about the issue, one must wonder what prompted Brown to apologize now, almost six months after the incident.

As a student studying public relations, here is my take on the strategy behind Brown’s apology:

  1. When the story of the fight first broke in February, the media was in a frenzy. Although the vast majority of the press Brown received was overwhelmingly negative, his name was nonetheless virtually omnipresent for a few days. Tales of the incident were relayed on TV, in magazines and newspapers, online, on social networking sites, on the radio, and spread by word of mouth. Although I don’t agree with the statement wholeheartedly, Brown seemed to be proof of the old adage “there’s no such thing as bad press.” Brown’s image was basically barbecued in the public arena, but he benefited from a lot of notoriety and attention during this time.
  2. As time progressed, the elevated interest in Brown died down. Way down. The shock and drama that had surrounded the Rihanna-Brown incident died down and all that was left when the dust settled was disgust for the way Brown had acted.
  3. Brown probably figured that, if he rode out the storm, eventually the public would forgive and forget and resume support of his music. He probably figured that eventually things would return to business as usual. There was also talk of Brown and Rihanna making up and reuniting during this time, so there was not a vast need for Brown to take action; he was still getting a lot of press and there was a good chance that his image would be salvaged.
  4. Now, months later, it does not appear that Brown and Rihanna have gotten back together. In fact, rumors are circulating that Rihanna is dating R&B singer Drake. Rihanna appears to have moved on with her life and put the incident behind her. Brown, on the other hand, has not received a lot of press lately, and has not seen a revival of his image. He also faces the punishment for his actions, which includes five years’ probation, community service and attendance at domestic violence classes.
  5. For Brown, the circumstances haven’t improved on their own. It would seem that now would be the perfect time for Brown to take matters into his own hands and attempt to reverse the rapid decay of his career. Hence the apology video. In several articles I read, sources close to Rihanna claimed that she was shocked that Brown released the video and was hurt because doing so had re-opened the wound while resurfacing an issue she was working hard to put in her past. The articles also alleged that Rihanna was hurt that Brown did not at least warn her that he was planning to release the apology tape. This alleged reaction on Rihanna’s part would coincide with my theory that there is more to Brown’s decision to apologize now than a mere desire to express his regret. Plus, if you watch the video, Brown doesn’t seem overly sincere and appears to be reading from cue cards.

What do you think, what prompted him to apologize now? Were his motives for apologizing pure, or was this apology a PR stunt meant to salvage Brown’s image?

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