Rihanna's Oprah Interview Draws Both Praise And Criticism From PR Experts

08/21/2012 10:03 am ET

A tearful Rihanna told Oprah Winfrey Monday that she and ex Chris Brown are "still close" and "will always love each other" following the 2009 attack that included punching, biting and choking. Now, after the candid interview, domestic violence organizations and fans have blasted the singer for "normalizing" domestic abuse.

"I think Rihanna did the right thing by telling the truth about her relationship with Chris Brown. Lying to media is never a good idea, particularly for celebrities who are always in the public eye and can get caught at any time not telling the truth," Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, tells me. "While being with Brown may not be good for the Rihanna brand and Rihanna’s career, clearly people in love don’t always make rational decisions -- celebrities or average Joes. Rihanna seemed authentic, believable and it would be hard for anyone to watch that interview and not feel for her."

However, not every public relations expert agrees.

"I can't believe her team would allow her to do this interview," one A-list publicist tells me. "Rihanna's brand is all about powerful girls -- ladies who get what they want and don't need a man to complete them. If Rihanna honestly believes what she told Oprah, then it changes everything that we thought she represented."

Amy Rosenblum, who runs media training company Media Masters, had a more complex reaction, but also thought the interview was a good idea.

"As a media trainer I also tell my clients to be honest. The public is not stupid and know when you are not telling the truth," she says. "Rihanna is not the first person to still love someone who did something terrible. Doing the interview with Oprah was the right choice. Rather than being a 3 to 4 minute interview on a show, Oprah had the time and resources to put what happened into context. Rihanna has opened up a conversation about domestic violence. It was a great interview."


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