Unveiling the “Nice Guy” Act: Crisis Communication Lessons from Ashton and Mila’s Explanation Video

Amy McQuaid-England
3 min readSep 10, 2023
“Nice Guy” Act: Crisis Communication

In the ever-evolving world of dealing with crises, the recent explanatory video released by Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis serves as a clear example of how your public relations moves can either help or hurt during a crisis. This video meant to explain their past actions, gives us some crucial insights into the problems arising when people support the “nice guy.” In this article, we’ll look at the mistakes made, the chances missed to make things right, and what it means in the post #MeToo era and when an explanation makes things worse.

PR Mistake #1: When dealing with a crisis, choosing the right way to communicate and crafting the right message is critical. Unfortunately, in this case, the explanation video was a wrong move, even though it was well-intentioned. You must understand that when facing a crisis, your response must be carefully planned, thinking about what could go wrong. Sadly, this video didn’t just fail to address the situation adequately. It also caused controversy and backlash because it wasn’t a genuine apology.

Playing the “Nice Guy” and Complicity: Ashton and Mila chose to write character references for a convicted rapist. One big issue is reinforcing the “nice guy” facade by writing those letters. However, in today’s climate in a post #MeToo era, we must contend with our complicity in abuse. When people speak up about the character of the individual convicted because they knew him as a different person, they ignore how dangerous this narrative is.

They can’t claim to be for victims and say they believe survivors while writing character letters for abusers.

We all must contend with this challenging situation when we love people who do great harm. To be allies to survivors, we must challenge this duality and fight against reinforcing a relationship carefully curated to you by the abuser. Abusers hide in plain sight as the “nice guys,” They do this to get away with their violent and abhorrent behaviours. This should remind anyone who has come into contact with them just how dangerous they are — not give a reason to ask for a lighter sentence.

We must reflect and remember that the “nice guy” is calculated and intends always to position themselves to gaslight the victim and anyone who accuses them. It’s a ploy, a sick part of their cycle of abuse. Buying into it and using it as part of a defence to give a lighter sentence harms those who finally seek justice and are heard.

Missed Opportunity in Handling the Crisis: The explanatory video could have been a pivotal platform for genuine introspection and learning. Unfortunately, it didn’t hit the mark because it didn’t acknowledge the harm caused or commit to making things right. Crisis management should be about genuinely wanting to change, not just trying to save your image. Missing this chance worsens the problem because people want to see genuine remorse.

The Post #MeToo Movement and Believing Survivors: This incident isn’t just about crisis communication; it also reminds us of the bigger picture. The #MeToo movement has been powerful because it calls out complicity and silence that let abusers keep going. Believing survivors and holding those responsible accountable are essential steps toward a more fair and just society.

For those of us in crisis communication, it’s crucial to stress the need to be honest, take responsibility, and show empathy when handling crises. Their explanation video highlights the danger of keeping up a “nice guy” narrative and emphasizes the importance of believing survivors. It reminds us that crisis management isn’t just about managing your image; it’s about making fundamental changes and seeking justice. In a world where the truth always comes out, honesty and accountability is the only way to go.