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News sandwiching and public holiday publicity: How to time a celebrity divorce announcement

By Thea Dunne -

Last month, on Monday, September 26 at 7:02 p.m. EST, Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts announced they were getting divorced. Just two hours later the first presidential debate was aired. News of the divorce trickled slowly out with the distracted media too engrossed in Trump and Clinton crossing horns to pay the couple any mind.

It was no accident.

Gwen Stefani announced her separation from Gavin Rossdale on a Monday in August last year giving the media all working week to build steam. Her career swung back into public view and a resurgent hit heartbreak album and a TV show quickly followed.

Though the days of courtroom battles making pariahs of divorcees are for the most part safely consigned to history, people in the public eye can find their divorces subject to fascinated scrutiny in the press.

To ensure that demise of a relationship doesn't spell the demise of a career, timing is everything. Below we have some of the most infamous media management manoeuvres.

For maximum publicity

Early week announcements have the whole working week to percolate. This means more coverage.

It can also mean better coverage. The US weeklies frenetically reporting celebrity news tend to wrap on Monday night, so many are closed on Tuesdays. Celebrities that announce break-ups on a Tuesday like Angelina Jolie, Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga have more control over how it will play out in the next few days.

Some notable days can also get a big splash. Katy Perry and Russel Brand declared their split in 2011 the day before New Year's Eve rapidly becoming a hungover talking point.

Other top tips for maximum exposure are catching your public off guard, public appearances, paparazzi tip-offs and red herring lovers.

To keep things quiet

The options here are slim. The choice is between Friday afternoons, holiday weekends or the very middle of summer when journalists are less inclined to report and people are less interested in everyone else's lives.

The other option is sandwiching your announcement in bigger news.

Top tips include securing private judges and discreet clerks.

California lawyer Laura Wasser told Bloomberg that whenever she can she files high profile cases in branch offices. “Santa Barbara is great” because, she says, their clerks leak fewer documents.

Most importantly

Do tell your husband or wife first. Second-hand news is second-rate news.

If you would like to know more about the issues covered in this article, Vardags offers a free consultation to qualifying individuals.

For high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals or their companies, our confidential enquiry line is staffed 24 hours. Call 020 7404 9390 today.

Thea Dunne

Thea joined Vardags in September 2016. She read English at Trinity College, Cambridge and previously interned at Christie’s Auction House.