Amber Heard vs. Johnny Depp: Experts step in after actress quits PR firm days before testifying

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Amber Heard is set to speak in the ongoing libel lawsuit involving Johnny Depp on Wednesday, just days after she ditched her original PR team.

Depp sued his ex-wife Heard for $50 million, alleging she defamed him when she wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post in 2018. In the article, Heard claimed she was the victim of domestic violence and described her experiences in 2016 – the year she divorced Depp.

The ‘Aquaman’ actress was reportedly upset by the continued “bad headlines” she received in the media during and after Depp’s four-day deposition.

After dropping Precision Strategies, Heard hired Shane Communications to take over the job, Fox News Digital confirmed, but trademark and legal experts aren’t so sure that was the best move.

AMBER HEARD DITCHES PR TEAM IN ONGOING JOHNNY DEPP DEFAMATION LAWSUIT

Amber Heard is set to speak in the ongoing libel lawsuit involving Johnny Depp on Wednesday, just days after she ditched her original PR team.
(Getty Images)

‘LITTLE IRONY’

Several brand pundits noted that while his intentions to switch publicists ahead of his testimony were likely made to start getting good media coverage, the move itself apparently created “somewhat negative public relations,” according to their estimate.

“While the PR firm may have advice on how Amber will appear on the witness stand, and while that advice may differ from anything her previous PR firm may have suggested, in a way Lawyers generally don’t like PR firms interfering with testimony preparation, so I have to wonder what influence Shane’s people will even have on Amber’s testimony or behavior,” the expert said. the Howard Breuer brand, CEO of Newsroom PR, at Fox News Digital.

“Furthermore, there is a bit of irony in the fact that simply switching PR teams on the eve of his testimony can create his own somewhat negative PR,” he added. . “It already seems to be happening.”

Evan Nierman, CEO of international crisis PR firm Red Banyan, told Fox News Digital that Heard’s decision “was not good” and noted that it produced “predictable blowback” in the media.

“The decision to fire his public relations firm in the middle of the trial was not a good decision,” he said. “I’m sure Heard’s former agency would have advised him against this, not only to keep his client, but also to help her avoid the predictable backlash she produced in the press.”

California-based criminal defense attorney Lara Yeretsian told Fox News Digital that the change in PR team “…can hurt [Heard’s] picture even more.”

“Ultimately, whatever this jury decides, this trial appears to have restored Johnny Depp’s image and done the opposite for Heard,” Yeretsian added.

Actress Amber Heard looks on as her attorneys Elaine Bredehoft, left, and Ben Rottenborn, right, during a break in the courtroom at Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Virginia on April 18, 2022.
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Actress Amber Heard looks on as her attorneys Elaine Bredehoft, left, and Ben Rottenborn, right, during a break in the courtroom at Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Virginia on April 18, 2022.
(Photo by STEVE HELBER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

‘PUBLIC SHOW’

Depp fought to have the libel trial televised. However, Heard’s lawyers pushed back, not wanting any recordings of the trial to be made public.

In the opinion of one expert, Heard probably didn’t want it to be a “public show.”

“She didn’t want it to be a public spectacle,” former US attorney Neama Rahmani suggested to Fox News Digital. “And it was. I get why you don’t want to air dirty laundry in public, but trials in this country are public and they’re going to be televised. So if you know it’s going to happen, you gotta come out front And now she’s way behind.

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Heard claimed to have been physically abused during the years she was married to Depp.  The two would eventually settle their divorce in 2017.

Heard claimed to have been physically abused during the years she was married to Depp. The two would eventually settle their divorce in 2017.
(Reuters)

‘DRIVE THE NARRATIVE’

According to experts, Depp controlled the narrative somewhat, as he was the first person to testify at the trial. As plaintiffs, Depp’s team bears the burden of proof.

Depp spent four days on the stand and videos of the actor testifying have since gone viral on TikTok. During his testimony, the actor opened up about different alleged incidents, including the time he found poop in his bed.

Despite hiring a new team, brand experts believe it might be difficult for Heard to “steer the narrative” towards something more positive for herself and her reputation.

“The role of a crisis PR firm in a lawsuit of this magnitude is to drive the narrative in the press, but it is unrealistic to expect the agency to completely cancel negative headlines when Days have been spent bringing to light sensational testimony from the other side.Even the best crisis PR agency would have a hard time stopping Heard or Depp from portraying themselves as blameless,” Nierman told Fox News Digital.

“The poor behavior displayed by the two, much of which has been documented in videos, audios and images shared in court, prevents either party from presenting themselves as blameless or fully within the law. “, he added.

Heard arrives for her ex-husband Depp's libel lawsuit against her.

Heard arrives for her ex-husband Depp’s libel lawsuit against her.
(Reuters)

“FEAR AND PANIC”

Breuer noted that it might help Heard if she stopped participating in behavior that involved “fear and panic.”

“It might help Amber if her team pushes her to relax and do nothing else that might suggest fear and panic, and reminds her that she might lose a few battles but win the war,” explained Brewer.

“I think that, although Depp has presented evidence that works in his favor, it is very plausible that the jury will find that his team has failed to meet the legal burden of proving defamation, so Amber could win. .”

In this November 3, 2011 file photo, American actors Johnny Depp, left, and Amber Heard arrive for the European premiere of their film, "The rum journal," in London.

In this file photo from November 3, 2011, American actors Johnny Depp, left, and Amber Heard arrive for the European premiere of their film, ‘The Rum Diary’, in London.
(AP, File)

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‘TRIBUNAL OF PUBLIC OPINION’

The civil trial, which began April 11, is expected to last six weeks and is about halfway through – and Breuer said it might be time for Heard to start thinking about the future.

“Remember that at the end of the day, both sides of this battle are much more interested in what happens outside the courtroom and inside the court of public opinion. The latest Amber’s decision makes that very clear.”

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