Tori and Dean: Image Repair Study

By: Lauren Kastner and Melissa Lasater tori-and-deanpublicityphoto

The following is a study of the image repair tactics used by Tori Spelling after Dean McDermott’s affair. The study will include media and social media coverage of the scandal. Moreover, it will focus on the couple’s relationship and public image– McDermott’s affair, Spelling’s response, the family’s dynamics and their portrayal in the media.

Meet Tori Spelling & Dean McDermott:


Tori Spelling

  • Actress and author
  • Thought she’d inherit more than $800,000 of her father’s $500 million estate
  • Shares about living on a budget, dealing with marriage problems, parenting in her books, interviews and reality shows


Dean McDermott

  • Canadian-American actor
  • Host of Chopped: Canada

Timeline of Relevant Dates

  • July 2005: Reality television stars, Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott, met while filming Mind over Murder in Ottawa. The night they met, they began their affair.
  • May 2006: They each left their former spouses and wed. They have four children together. McDermott brought one child from his previous marriage.
  • December 2013: Eight years into their marriage, McDermott had a two-day affair with Emily Goodhand. McDermott admitted his transgression to his wife. In a therapy session with Spelling’s trusted therapist, Ann K. Wexler, McDermott revealed he was abusing substances and struggling with suicidal thoughts– both direct results from his remorse for his unfaithfulness.
  • Jan. 23, 2014: With Spelling’s support and sympathy, McDermott checked into rehab.
  • April 22, 2014: Spelling created the six-segment Lifetime documentary, True Tori, to chronicle the couple’s attempt to mend their broken relationship.

Why do they need image repair?

Although Spelling and McDermott are supported by a group of loyal fans, they’ve received a hefty dose of criticism. Some believe they’ve falsified drama to beef up their show. They each operate their own social media accounts. Their social media presence has occasionally helped them win favor in the public eye, but has also occasionally gotten them into trouble.

  • Followers doubting the authenticity of their reality television show have voiced their critical opinions.
  • Spelling and McDermott haven’t earned much respect from the public and are at risk of losing their fan base as well.

Recently, McDermott got fed up with criticism from his followers and aggressively renounced his participation in social media.

Dean 5On the other hand, Spelling is active in social media and uses the Twitter platform to live tweet with fans when her show airs on Lifetime.Live Chat on Twitter

Literature Review Summary

  • Benoit (1995b) Sears’ repair of its auto service image: Image restoration discourse in the corporate sector
  • Benoit (2011). NPR’s Image Repair Discourse on Firing Juan Williams
  • Benoit (2014) In Accounts, Excuses, and Apologies, Second Edition: Image Repair Theory and Research
  • Holdener & Kauffman (2014) Getting out of the doghouse: The image repair strategies of Michael Vick
  • Oles-Acevedo, D. (2010). Deny, Delay, Apologize: The Oprah Winfrey Image-Defense Playbook

From our literature review, we developed the following research questions:

  1. What is mainstream media response to Tori and Dean’s image repair tactics?
  2. How did audience respond to the couple’s image repair strategy?
  3. Did the couple’s strategy transfer to traditional media?

Research Methods

  • We conducted a general analysis over Spelling and McDermott’s most popular social media posts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) since the affair in December 2013.
  • We also looked at their personal websites.
  • We looked at the media’s and public’s response to Spelling’s and McDermott’s posts.

How we chose sample: We let the public choose! We looked through their social media profiles and found the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram posts that got the most public response. To keep consistent on  social media platforms, we looked at every fifth to sixth entry.

Coding Methods

  • See how often Spelling and McDermott are mentioned.
  • Analyze the content to determine if it helps or hinders the couple’s celebrity reputation.
  • Examine the number of times the couple’s social media status was re-tweeted, liked or shared (since October 1, 2014)

Findings & Discussion

Mission/Goal of their social media pages


  • Website: “In ediTORIal , I’m sharing all of the ideas, icons, and trends that inspire me, and I’m asking you to tell me what’s inspiring you! I’ll be sharing my personal tips for decorating, entertaining, and developing a unique personal style. Plus I’ll be dishing about relationships and parenting…”
  • Her Twitter, Instagram and Facebook don’t have an explicit mission statement– only a short bio.


  • Website: “This site serves as a pit stop for dudes and dads of any age who want to talk shop about man-of-the-house stuff—family, relationships, projects, hobbies and living life to the fullest.”
  • His Twitter, Instagram and Facebook don’t have an explicit mission statement– only a short bio.

The mass media frames the Spelling-McDermott duo as a dramatic mess. The media is fairly consistent with their social media posts.

Spelling posted a controversial comment on her Instagram account after being admitted to the hospital. Followers assumed she was talking about either McDermott or Candy Spelling (her mother). Both McDermott nor Mrs. Spelling Sr. claimed Tori was not talking about them.

Dean retaliates to criticism on Twitter.

McDermott is fairly good at responding to his social media followers.

Tori & Dean Creative Concept 2

Tori and Dean Infographic Revised Tori and Dean Creative


  • Limited information about the McDermott-Goodhand affair (unhelpful for our study; helpful for Spelling and McDermott)
  • McDermott’s lack of an online presence since his explosion on October 28
  • McDermott’s potential withdrawal from reality television


Suggestions for future studies:

  • Analyze Spelling’s and McDermott’s personal social media accounts
  • Deeply analyze television and print media– most followers will trust the media over Spelling and McDermott
  • Measure fans’ responses to the couple’s social media posts and to the media’s coverage of the couple



  • Spelling and McDermott remain a couple
  • They are publicly working to save their marriage on the reality show True Tori
  • McDermott sincerely and publicly apologized to Spelling for his infidelity
    • He’s taken full responsibility for his actions
    • He checked into rehab for alcohol and drug abuse
  • Spelling has accepted McDermott’s apology and has publicly supported his continued recovery from drugs and alcohol
  • Using social media to interact with fans:
    • Relating to them on a level the humanizes Spelling and McDermott
    • Enables them to reach their fans instantaneously at no cost
    • The couple uses social media to help create a relationship with their audience
    • Content can be controlled if monitored constantly


  • When the news broke of McDermott’s affair with Emily Goodhand, initially the couple had no comment. The delay in response bred negative publicity.
  • The couple choose to document their  marriage crisis on a reality show. Reality television comes with the stigma of a scripted drama. The audience is left to wonder how much of the show is scripted and how much is reality. Everyone has as opinion: supporters will empathize with the couple and naysayers will say it’s all done for ratings.


Changes for Social Media:

  • Spelling:
      • Spelling’s social media presence is strong.
        • She continually updates her website, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.
        • She does a great job of engaging her audience with questions and soliciting advice.
        • Spelling also hosts live chats on Twitter to promote her reality and television shows.
      • Recommendation:
        • Spelling should monitor her accounts closely and interact with audience periodically.
        • Her social media platforms state that she’ll interact with her audience in conversation but she rarely follows through.
  • McDermott:
    • Recommendation:
      • Beef up social media presence by actually being present on social media so he can have more control over how he’s perceived.


General Recommendations:

  • Address crisis as soon as possible.
  • If you’re guilty, apologize (mortification). Share ways you’re improving your behavior (corrective action).
  • Seek endorsement from someone the public respects. Make sure this person is relevant to the crisis.
  • Solutions and advice for other celebrities, athletes and politicians are to address the crisis as soon as possible. The longer one waits, the more speculation arises.  No one is perfect and the public is forgiving. If you made a mistake, say so.
  • Share consistent and concise messages to the media.


Angelina Jolie Reveals How She and Brad Pitt Fell in Love. (2006, December 12). Retrieved November 11, 2014, from

Benoit, W. L. (1995b). Sears’ repair of its auto service image: Image restoration discourse in the corporate sector. Communication Studies, 46, 89-105.

Benoit, W. L. (1997). Hugh Grant’s Image Restoration Discourse: An Actor Apologizes. Communication Quarterly, 45(3), 251-267. Retrieved November 11, 2014, from EBSCO Host.

Benoit, W. L. (2011). NPR’s Image Repair Discourse on Firing Juan Williams. Journal of Radio & Audio Media,18(1), 84-91.

Benoit, W. (2014). Preface. In Accounts, Excuses, and Apologies, Second Edition: Image Repair Theory and Research (2nd ed.). SUNY Press, xi.

Finn, N. (2014, November 6). Giuliana Wonders Why Dean Did not Just Buy Tori Flowers! Retrieved November 24, 2014, from

Holdener, M., & Kauffman, J. (2014, March 1). Getting out of the doghouse: The image repair strategies of Michael Vick. Retrieved November 23, 2014, from

Hugh Grant. (n.d.). Retrieved November 11, 2014, from

Miller, K. (2009, March 19). Brad’s cheating definition may be the Pitts. Retrieved November 10, 2014, from

Si mões-Ferreira, Isabel. The wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles: Royal mediation and press mediatization. (2013). Catalan Journal of Communication & Cultural Studies, Volume 5 Number 1(CJCS 5 (1) pp. 83–96), 83-95. Retrieved January 1, 2013, from Ebscohost.

Lyall, S. (2005, February 10). Charles Calls End to the Affair: He’ll Happily Wed His Camilla. Retrieved November 11, 2014, from

Maresca, R. (2013, December 27). Spelling refuses to comment on cheating rumors, making Dean McDermott’s ‘life hell:’ report. Retrieved November 24, 2014, from

Oles-Acevedo, D. (2010). Deny, Delay, Apologize: The Oprah Winfrey Image-Defense Playbook. The Northwest Journal of Communication, 39(1), 1-28. Retrieved November 23, 2014, from

Oles-Acevedo, D. (2012, January 1). Fixing the Hillary Factor: Examining the Trajectory of Hillary Clinton’s Image Repair from Political Bumbler to Political Powerhouse. Retrieved November 13, 2014, from

Weinraub, B. (1995, June 29). What’s the Hollywood Topic? Hugh Grant’s Future, Mainly. The New York Times. Retrieved November 10, 2014, from

Spelling, T. (2014). Season 2 True Tori [Television series]. Hollywood: Lifetime.


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Tori and Dean” What’s the Verdict?

By Melissa Lasater

In December 2013, US Weekly magazine released a story alleging Dean McDermott cheated on Tori Spelling, his wife of seven years, with Emily Goodhand.


The couple is no stranger to infidelity. Spelling and McDermott met while filming “Mind Over Murder” in 2006. At the time, Spelling had just celebrated her first wedding anniversary with husband Charlie Shanian, and Dean was married to Canadian actress Mary Jo Eustace for 12 years. Spelling and McDermott consummated an affair the first night they met. A month later the couple divorced their spouse and were married in Fiji.


In March 2014, “True Tori”, a reality show documenting the couple and their family as they cope through the after-math of Dean’s affair, aired on Lifetime network.

In my initial findings, the public is not sympathetic to the couple. In reading Spelling’s blog, I found there’s an outrage because there are four children under the age of seven involved in the reality show. The tone is social media is one of karma. People feel that Spelling is getting what she deserves. The media is reporting the couple is headed toward divorce.


Yesterday, on the Today show, Spelling shot down rumors that Dean had not been there for her while she was in the hospital for a week. She posted, from her hospital bed, a cryptic message on Instagram that read, “Sadly I’ve finally faced truth that 1 person will never be there 4 me.” She hinted in the interview that this message was about her mother.

Only time will tell whether their marriage will survive. Spelling would like to continue with their reality show, however, Dean has publicly stated he is done filming “True Tori.”


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Tori Spelling: The Stori Continues

By Melissa Lasater


I choose Tori Spelling as the subject for my term paper. From what I can tell, she is the first celebrity to allow cameras into her home to document the process of coping after her husband’s affair. Spelling has been active in the media, social media and reality television expressing her anger and love toward her husband, who is also the father of her four children Liam, age seven, Stella, age six, Hattie, age three, and Finn, age 22 months.

My initial reaction is excitement. Spelling is an open book when it comes to her life. Her memoir Stori Telling, describes her version of events from growing up in Hollywood to her marriage to Dean McDermott.


Sadly, eight years into their marriage, McDermott cheated on Spelling with Emily Goodhand, a woman he met through mutual friends.

Goodhand would later release a statement to Us Weekly claiming she had an affair with McDermott.

“He told me he and Tori had a sexless marriage,” says Goodhand, who stayed over at his hotel the night they met and the following night too. “I believed him.”

McDermott’s infidelity doesn’t come as a surprise. Spelling has been insecure with their relationship from the beginning, as they met while being married to other people.


In 2004, Spelling married writer and actor Charlie Shanian. Her father funded their $1-million wedding, in a time when the U.S. economy was down and celebrities rarely spoke of their extravagant spending.

In 2005, Spelling traveled to Canada to begin filming the movie Mind Over Murder, where she co-stared with McDermott.

“Dean and I met and fell in love,” Spelling said. “He’s my sole-mate.”

Shanian, later told GQ magazine Spelling ended their marriage through her therapist.

“Fifteen months into my marriage, I opened the National Enquirer to see pictures of what appeared to be my wife giving another man a lap dance,” Shanian writes.

The drama doesn’t end here. Spelling admits to learning about her father’s death via email and inheriting merely $800,000 of her father’s $500 million estate. Her mother Candy Spelling would later tell 94.7 WMAS in Springfield, Mass. her husband died of a broken heart.

The 15th Carousel Of Hope Ball - Arrivals

“I’ve always been trying to work on the relationship [with Tori],” Spelling said. “I don’t know what the anger is. My daughter one day decided that she wasn’t speaking to my husband, myself and my son and that’s how it’s continued for the last, oh gosh, four or five years.”

Spelling explained Tori’s desertion ultimately cost Aaron Spelling his will to live.

“It was sad because that’s what killed my husband actually. He just didn’t want to live after that. You know, He had done everything … he could possibly do for his daughter and she wanted no part of him once he couldn’t do anything for her.”

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Think Pink: The More Who Know, the Larger We’ll Grow

By Melissa Lasater


It’s October! National Breast Cancer Awareness month is in full swing. Susan G. Komen Central Texas Affiliate (CTA) continues the fight to help save lives.

Each year, CTA organizes the Komen Central Texas Race for the Cure. This year, the three-part race took place on September 20. Breast cancer survivors were honored and wore special T-shirts that distinguished them from the others racers. Local business sponsors like HEB, Grande Communications, KCEN HD and many volunteers helped to make the 2014 race memorable.


Our PR campaign objectives are directly related to the 2015 upcoming race. We want to increase race participation by 45 percent. Our plan is to increase awareness by creating flyers and posting them in gyms and health clinics throughout Central Texas. Clear Channel Media + Entertainment is a local sponsor of CTA. We plan to generate advertisement through this medium.

With an increase in race participants, we hope to also increase funding by 25 percent. Creating awareness within the community will result in more race participants and race sponsors.

We also want to increase CTA’s social media presence by 10 percent, before 2015. Social media is platform CTA uses to connect with the city of Waco. It’s the best way to send relevant information our audience and get feedback. The more people who are aware of CTA’s upcoming events, the more participants we should have.


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The Pink Ribbon: More Good than Bad

By Melissa Lasater


Most people associate the pink ribbon with the Susan G. Komen brand. In my opinion, it’s one of Susan G. Komen Central Texas Affiliate’s greatest public relations strengths. Brand recognition is invaluable when it comes to nonprofits. Public awareness will facilitate fundraising. Without these variables, a nonprofit organization can’t succeed.

Longevity within the local community is an asset. Waco, Texas, has been the home to the Central Texas Affiliate (CTA) since 2000. It was founded by a small group of activists and survivors with local ties to the city. CTA’s commitment to help end breast cancer has earned them strong support from local businesses, like HEB and Belk. CTA also has a strong following of Central Texas cancer survivors. Every year, CTA organizes the Komen Central Texas Race for the Cure to raise money to continue the battle against breast cancer.


Some of the PR limitations CTA faces are lack of funding and a minimal online presence. Currently, CTA employees one full-time staff member. It relies heavily on volunteers. If the numbers are down, it’s difficult to organize large events. In fact, without funds events are likely to be unorganized, or simply not occur.

Social media, from my perspective, is a PR platform every organization should take advantage of. There is no cost associated with its use, and the organization can control its content.  CTA has a Facebook page, however, they have fewer than 1,000 followers. I would like to see them extend their online presence to Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Overall, CTA is an established nonprofit organization. Their contribution to the Waco community is instrumental in helping to end breast cancer forever in Central Texas.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month click here to learn about the story of a Central Texas cancer survivor.


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Susan G. Komen Central Texas Affiliate: A PR Campaign Celebrating 15 Years of Race for the Cure

By: Melissa Lasater


This semester, I’m working on a PR campaign group project for Susan G. Komen Central Texas Affiliate. Our campaign will focus on the 15 year celebration of Race for the Cure in Waco, Texas. It’s Komen’s mission to end breast cancer and save lives. Money raised from the race goes to fund research, promote awareness and provide information to those who are affected by breast cancer.

I’m fortunate to work with a nonprofit that reflects my values. Susan G. Komen celebrates women, breast cancer survivors and honors those who have lost their battle to this illness.

Initially, the thought of a group project made me queasy. It’s challenging having to rely on others to get the task done. As luck would have it, my group members are proficient and easy to work with. More importantly, we are passionate about the fight to end breast cancer.

For the campaign, I’ll be responsible for photography at the Race for the Cure event, held on September 20 and the design element of our campaign. Our group is working together to get every item on our checklist done. I’m eager to see the finished product and confident we will meet our client’s expectations.


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WA2: No Limits on The Further of Web Designing and Web Programming


     Good web designers and web developers rely on one another to get their job done. A healthy work environment is essential for job success in the technology world, explained the new information technology vice president, to a crowd of 15 journalism students at the Bennett Auditorium at Baylor University Tuesday.

Daniel Torres is the new information technology vice president for Hill Country Technologies, he has six years of work experience in the web designing and developing field and has a plan to keep the new industry flourishing.

     “With the rise of the Internet, the web industry has grown tremendously is a small amount of time,” said Torres.I believe that web content has value and I think that web developers working alongside web designers have great potential to exceed their customer’s expectations in this new field.”

Torres suggested a program he calls ‘Web solution’ that will allow customers to access a certain amount of webpages for free. The client will navigate the webpages, and the more the client gets into the site, he or she will reach a tipping point where the content must be purchased. The more embellished the site, the more money it costs to build.

“For example, the customer will get to review existing demo-webpages and once they have identified the format or style they want, he or she will have to pay for it,” said Torres.

Both web designers and web developers have vital roles in the website building process. It is important that they work together so that company productivity can be increased. Both positions are crucial. They have the same goal of customer satisfaction, but their focus has two different aspects.


Web Designers Are Responsible For:

  • Focus on aesthetics of a website
    • Graphics: the client gives the designer a rough description of what they want, and the designer makes it happen
    • Images: 3-D characteristics, specials effects, and light/heavy embellishments
  • Usability of a website
  • Designers use programs like Adobe Photoshop to create designs
  • How does functionality affects form

Web Designers Place Emphasis on:

  •    BALANCE– Layout must have balanced elements
  •    CONTRAST – Use contrast colors, font sizes, textures and shapes
  •    EMPHASIS – Don’t over emphasis, only the most important parts of the webpage should be “highlighted”
  •    CONSISTENCY/REPETITION/RHYTHM – A neat and orderly webpage provides a “user friendly” experience for your audience
  •    UNITY –Website layout and the configuration of the webpage in its entirety must be in unison

$      Annual Salary – Estimated $48,000, most work at an hourly rate


Web Developers/ Programmers Are Responsible For:

  • Take a design and build a functionally website
  •  Developers use programs like HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP to make a design function
  • Rely on code
  • Must be creative in building out functionality

Web Designers Place Emphasis On:

  • CONTENT – The type of technology that the client needs largely depends on the content they want. The client must determine their audience and what kind of website experience their audience expects.
  • NAVIGATION – Confusing navigation menus may result in few repeat visitors
  • DEVELOPMENT TOOLS – HTML and CSS are most commonly used
  • CODING – Strongly recommended, learn code
  • PUBLISHING – Research all web hosting servicer’s

$         Annual Salary – Estimated $85,000, their wages are based on salary

Times and technology are changing rapidly and the web industry will evolve with its audience. Rather than merely limiting business to local consumers, businesses are making more money working online where they can reach a global customer pool. It’s important to address these changes now in order to secure the future of the web industry.

“We need to get to know our clients and their business. Addressing what they want, and the style and functionality they need is our priority,” said Torres. “We have the knowledge and skills to maximize our clients business portfolios, we just need to make sure we have a strong enough web presence so our clients can easily find us.”

Torres’ plan to target a wide demographic of customers is to create embellished yet functional websites, webpages, apps, and to join the social media. The younger demographic is not interested in outdated webpages. The older demographic prefers a simplistic approach. Hill Country Technologies wants to be the happy medium between the two.  The web design and developing industry needs to be easy to find so that their audience continues to search for them.  Torres plans to make this his priority at Hill Country Technologies.

Susanne Jennings, a new media student at Baylor University, said “It’s interesting that Torres talked about the new web industry and the ways future designers and developers should work together to become more efficient.”

“For example, a web developer comes up with an idea for webpage functionality and with the assistance of a designer, his idea becomes their reality. It’s like one half of the industry is not complete without the other half. In the near future, the new web industry will have better tools to better service their clients. I’m inspired,” said Jennings.

In order to have a successful web designing and developing career, one has to know the client and their audience. Is the company you’re hired for marketing towards an older or younger demographic? It is also important to understand the overall goals of your client. If the web industry focuses on these issues it will be around for a long time.

Torres spoke of his career with pride.

“Life in the web industry can be very exciting,” said Torres. “I never done the same project twice. I’ve met with CEO’s of fortune 500 companies, prominent folks in politics and athletes. Web designing and developing is an interesting field.  In fact, I was there when the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax story broke at Notre Dame.”

When it comes to the future, Torres predicts that the web industry will have more people employed in some type of Internet career, than in any other field. The opportunities for online careers are global. One needs only to login online to reach an audience of millions.

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