Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Amanda Knox Freed- Is Her PR Partly Responsible?

The New York TImes has an article today about Amanda Knox winning her freedom, entitled, "A Court Fight and a Tireless Battle Over an Image." It details the extraordinary effort of Knox's family to help win their daughter's freedom not only in court but also in the court of public opinion. Interestingly, it took four years but finally worked. The PR company was hired soon after Knox was arrested in 2007 during her junior year at Perugia, accused along with two men of killing her housemate during a sexual attack.

Immediately, a website was created, friends of Amanda Knox that featured wholesome pictures of her along with family photos and remembrances of her childhood. The site and all continuing efforts were part of a focused campaign to rid the woman of her portrayal by prosecutors as a "she-devil".

According to the article; "In some respects, her supporters had their work cut out for them. The crime Ms. Knox had been accused and eventually convicted of was lurid, her statements to the police were inconsistent and DNA evidence presented at trial seemed to link her to the brutal killing. Her case — with its nightmarish elements of a young American in Italy caught up in a sexually charged murder case — brought international notoriety to Ms. Knox. The British tabloids took to calling her Foxy Knoxy, adopting a nickname she had used herself on her Facebook and MySpace pages. (Her family said later that the nickname referred to her soccer skills, not her love life."

By the time, Knox was freed this Monday, her public image was markedly different. Gone was "Foxy Knoxy", appearing instead was a nice young woman in tragic circumstances.

What led to this about-face? A strategic campaign of reputation repair that included lining up college friends to speak to Amanda's character, the agreement by at least one judge to write a letter in support of Knox, and the agreement of Knox's lawyers to let family members give countless interviews on behalf of their daughter.

Gerald L. Shargel, a lawyer who was not involved with the case but has represented other high-profile clients, said that Ms. Knox’s image had undergone a considerable change since the early days. “Now, this didn’t happen overnight, but her image has been airbrushed over the past several years, and now she is the all-American girl who is presented as some conventional young lady abroad who was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.

The media interest at this point is huge, and now networks are gunning for interviews. Bookers representing several television shows were on the same flight as Ms. Knox on Tuesday, two network executives said. And some media analysts predict that the next step may be selling a book, which would help defray the legal fees.

“Her story has all the makings of a top-selling book and a made-for-TV movie,” said Lee Kamlet, dean of the school of communications at Quinnipiac University and a former ABC News executive.

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