PEOPLE spoke with Hollywood Crisis Management Expert, Eric Schiffer — Chairman of ReputationManagementConsultants.com — to get a better of idea of what lies ahead for Bush, how the leaked tapes could impact him professionally in the long term, and the plans he needs to make to gain back the public’s trust.
How this could impact Billy professionally in the long term?
He was very smart. He took responsibility, he was accountable, humble and contrite. I think he did the first step right. The problem for him right now is he’s still tied to Donald Trump in the minds of so many women. He’s going to need time to pass — a fair amount of time. I think most women over time will, with the dissipation of feelings after the election, give him a second chance. He’ll have to gradually get back in. He may start by radio, he could come back to Access potentially if they’d have him. But he will survive what was probably one of the most shocking political recordings since the Nixon tapes.
If he were your client, what advice would you give him? What would his next step be?
I’d say, “Billy, stay low. Keep a low profile.” The only thing I think I would take if I were him is Dancing with the Stars because he would benefit from the platform and the fact that it’s a beloved show … You saw what happened with Ryan Lochte — it benefited him. [My other advice would be,] “Put your time back into the community helping women, helping women that are at shelters. Commit your time and energy to helping women in the community. Show that you want to make it right.”
What are the potential impacts of his earnings?
I think he’ll take a hit. His next opportunity, he’s going to come in likely a third to 50 percent of what’d he’d normally get. He’s a talent. He’s a likeable guy – he wouldn’t have gotten the Today show gig if he didn’t appeal to Millennial women, which he does. But he’s going to need the benefit of time to heal things.
We talked about the step he has to take to get the public’s forgiveness, but what about his colleagues’ in the industry?
He’ll have to individually address many of the executive producers, the on-camera talent, the bookers and the publicists. In order to maintain his relationship, he’ll have to have a very similar heartfelt set of messages about what a serious blunder it was for him to participate in that conversation. … Many people in Hollywood will have a hard time forgiving him for participating in that conversation and for the implied misogyny. I think if he continues being genuine and really requesting forgiveness and continues to conduct himself in a respectful way, I think he’s going to survive this.
Do you think he’ll be able to return to such a visible role?
Yes. In many ways, it may benefit him. Think of the audience in the United States. Almost everyone knows his name now. The amount of people that saw that video is close to 85 percent of the electorate. That’s several hundred million people in America now know this guy’s name. He’s now ubiquitous in the U.S. If he can take that recognition and change the sentiment associated to it through time and good work on behalf of women, he could actually platform even above that. But he needs to do the right things. He needs to show that he got the message.