There’s No Such Thing as Bad Publicity

Dear Editor,

I am planning a trip to the island in a few months, and a friend of mine from down there has been passing Tradewinds on to me.

I’ll admit that I was a tad bit shocked that you mentioned the sale of a substantial piece of property by Kenny Chesney as front-page news a few weeks ago. I know that many celebrities, not just Mr. Chesney, enjoy visiting the island because of the privacy that it affords to them. At the same time, I believe that Mr. Chesney has been very open with the fact that he owns property on St. John and about his life there. Some recent examples were the Blender Magazine article and, of course, his People magazine “exclusive” that he SOLD to them after his marriage on island last May. While I believe that everyone has the right to privacy, I think Mr. Chesney’s actions have contributed to the current media climate there. And I am sorry for all of you who have had tabloid reporters and paparazzi trudging around your private oasis for months now. You are not used to the media attention. Mr. Chesney, however, is a whole different matter. That is part of the price of fame, unfortunately.

As a former newspaper journalist and a current PR practitioner, I had no issues with your coverage. I’m assuming any time a high-profile piece of land is up for sale it is news. And, of course, I am sure that your readers were interested or it would not have made your budget for the week. You would not have wasted your reporter’s resources on putting all the information together. If that’s not the case and it was done just because it was Mr. Chesney, well then shame on you. Of course, there were details in the article that I’m sure Mr. Chesney did not want out, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t public record.

I was very dismayed by the two anonymous letters to the editor that were published this week. First of all, I questioned the validity of the letters and wondered about the source because the person refused to sign their names. Why is that? Because they are afraid that the mealticket Mr. Chesney has written for their organization will be taken away? Or is it because they have close personal ties with Mr. Chesney and needed to protect their own interests? Either way, I came away from those letters thinking that they see Mr. Chesney as a walking checkbook and care less about his privacy and more about the financial support they receive from him.

My experience of Mr. Chesney is that he seems to be a genuine man who cares very much about St. John. Just because he is selling one piece of property does not mean he is leaving your island. He values the island lifestyle. He is also a celebrity and has dealt with much worse media attention and is used to this kind of treatment. If he has a problem with your coverage of him, I am sure he will contact you and I hope we will all see that letter. But in PR, we have a little saying that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, and I’m sure Mr. Chesney feels the same way.

Laura Richards