PR Whiteboard

4 Reasons Why Miley Cyrus’ Act at the VMA’s was a Really Bad Idea

aaaamileyMiley Cyrus’ performance at Sunday evening’s MTV Video Music Awards was a poor idea. While pleasing a few – maybe? – she offended the masses while trying way too hard to show the world that she was Hannah Montana no longer. Poor choice of strategy, and here’s why:

First, the borderline burlesque performance was too risqué for an awards show on primetime cable. The internet and every social channel available is boiling over with commentary of parents who felt uncomfortable and awkward while watching the VMA’s with their kids. (See, the kids – that’s the issue.) Miley’s crew forgot the age-old communications tip of “know your audience.” While acknowledging that I’m outside the center of the audience target, those who do value and appreciate parental guidance know well that the performance was inappropriate for an event occurring at this particular time on television. It will be a very long time before we see Miley Cyrus perform in a high-profile slot at a major award show.

Second, while I clearly get the exposure opportunity provided by MTV, it’s likely a better approach for Cyrus to think sensibly (or realistically) about where she falls in the entertainment pecking order. You’re not Britney Spears or Lady Gaga, and you’re certainly no Madonna. Get a grip. I know it’s challenging to put egos in check, but let’s put the sensible hat on once in a while and adjust behavior accordingly. There’s been reaction at earlier performances – that’s what happens when you wear a dress made of beef – but there’s some baked in forgiveness for an accomplished professional expressing his or herself. Sunday’s performance was sleazy and desperate – and typically neither characteristic helps build a career in mainstream entertainment.

Third, Sunday night’s performance hurt Cyrus’ mainstream marketability. That is, for common consumer-facing products, goods, etc. I’m certain she’s now a viable candidate to speak on behalf of a number of products which I’d rather not list, but greater exposure to marketing goods in the wider world is no longer a possibility. Maybe that’s not a concern or a priority, but I can’t help but think that it was at some point. She gyrated her way out of a bunch of lucrative deals on Sunday.

Finally, and this is officially concerning stuff, she used sexuality to objectify women. She’s minimally talented, so she used a distasteful routine – and another artist’s highly popular song – to divert attention from her own on-stage performance, which occurred moments earlier. No one is discussing the performance of her own piece, but rather the (call it what you want) performance with Robin Thicke. PR is about positive promotion of people, products or services, but in this particular circumstance the world is focused more on the lack of credibility of the individual’s talents. Sure, she got a ton of PR. But it was resoundingly negative.

Did you watch this mess on Sunday night – if so, what did you think?

Blogger note: I’m the Father of two dynamite young girls, and I would have thrown my shoe through the television if we were watching this show together on Sunday night.