Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR
Lean in and listen closely, because this has to be said again: What you post on social media can come back and haunt you, sometimes years later. Just ask pop star Camila Cabello. The Grammy-nominated singer recently felt compelled to apologize for comments and language she used several years ago.
In the statement, Cabello said: “When I was younger, I used language that I’m deeply ashamed of and will regret forever… I was uneducated and ignorant. Once I became aware of the history and the weight and the true meaning behind this hurtful language, I was deeply embarrassed I ever used it…”
According to various media reports, the comments that prompted the apology from the Fifth Harmony singer were “racial” in nature and posted on a now-deleted Tumblr account. The PR response was necessary after social media users posted screenshots of the comments – all old posts – and these began to be shared across social media.
As the buzz around the screenshots grew, Cabello had little choice but to address the issue head-on. So, she apologized for comments made several years ago, when she was a teen. She said: “I wish I could go back in time and change the things I said… But once you know better, you do better…”
The controversy and comments come at an interesting time for the singer, who had hits with Havana and Senorita, a duet with Shawn Mendes. Cabello has a new album on the charts, and these were not the kinds of headlines the singer really wanted to see. While this did bring her media attention, it created a parallel narrative to the one Cabello and her promoters actually wanted in the headlines. Instead of talking about the music, people were asking whether or not the singer maintains these opinions reflected in the posts. It doesn’t help that, while the posts may be old, the reaction to them is fresh and raw. People are seeing them for the first time, even if they no longer reflect what Cabello actually believes.
However, all things considered, her Public Relations team managed the situation fairly well. It would be better to be proactive, to remove any potentially problematic posts and control what’s being put out on social platforms, but the apology was the right move at this point. This allows Cabello to move on from this issue and shift back to promoting her album with a new mission. That, it appears, is what Cabello has planned, saying she will begin to “speak out about injustice and inequality…” going forward.