‘Scandoval’ shows that details are as important as the big picture in crisis communications

June 28, 2023

The world stopped when news broke that Tom Sandoval was having an affair with Raquel Leviss while dating Ariana Madix, his girlfriend of 10 years.

Fans of the famous Bravo reality show Vanderpump Rules started rewatching the latest season for clues while the PR world began scoping out strategic components.

Madix has thrived post-scandal with interviews, magazine covers and sponsorships, and all have come with a bit of a jab to her ex.

Of course, this level of success is not the same that Sandoval is experiencing.

“Scandoval” serves as a reminder to the PR industry that the details that you don’t think about could be an ongoing burden to your brand.  

People remember what you say – whether or not you do

Your statements will always live somewhere. It can be online, during a recorded show or in someone else’s memory.

Sandoval’s demise came from the affair and the tacky commentary he made throughout the years. Sharing his frustration for being the only one to keep the house stocked… with batteries and paper towels, was one that took off. This quick comment inspired Madix’s feature in a commercial with Duracell, where she hints at the batteries lasting longer than her previous relationship.

Thinking before you speak is always important when being a decent human, but Scandoval has reminded us that your words, no matter how petty, can always be used against you.

What you do behind closed doors affects the opening of others. Like your business

Sandoval and his reality show sidekick, Tom Schwartz, worked tirelessly to start their new bar, Schwartz and Sandy’s. However, the duo’s hard work was diminished by the infamous affair of Sandoval.

All publicity isn’t good publicity, especially when it comes to a service industry business venture with your name slapped on the front of the building.

During the peak of the scandal, fans boycotted the bar and flooded the online reviews with comments supporting Madix. The Tom’s joint business currently sits at a 3.0 rating on Yelp. Not only did fans share their support for the newest Hollywood heroine online, but some people have even written Madix’s name in lipstick on the mirrors of the bar’s bathroom.

As important as it is to avoid mixing your personal life with your professional life, sometimes it isn’t up to you when the two intersect. When becoming the face of a company, your values and image must align to create harmony for the sake of the business.

A friend to all is a friend to none.

Provocative opinions must be carefully considered in thought leadership, except when it comes to moral ground.

Schwartz was the only cast member, aside from Sandoval and Leviss, to know about the affair. His loyalty to minimizing the drama became futile when fans learned that he didn’t tell Madix the truth. As a result of this, both Toms are now facing backlash.

Take a step back to determine if staying neutral on a topic significant in your life or industry is more important than sharing what you recognize is morally right. Ultimately, your neutrality can be more detrimental than your belief.

Focusing on the issue at hand is not the only component to analyzing your potential crisis. There are always aspects that resonate with the consumer more than your team.

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About the author

Jess Pechie has experience in B2B and consumer technology with a passion for health and wellness, lifestyle, cybersecurity and AI-focused industries. She studied public relations and marketing and received her degree from Virginia Tech in 2021. Jess began her PR career with Bospar as an intern and has since moved up to account executive. She enjoys keeping her coworkers up to date on the latest TikTok and internet culture trends.