Your reputation is all about where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and what others can expect from you. But if you’ve done something seriously wrong, it can be difficult to rebuild the trust that’s so essential to a successful career.

Rebuilding a reputation after a major mistake can be difficult, especially for celebrities. But even the most challenging situations can be overcome with the right reputation management company in your corner. Read on to see how six high-profile celebrity reputations went from rags to riches.

We have helped some of the most successful celebrities and high net worth individuals restore their reputations after a crisis. Contact our team to learn how our discrete white glove reputation management services can help you protect your image.

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart is known as America’s homemaker. She transformed herself from a caterer and cookbook writer into a multimedia lifestyle mogul. However, Stewart also earned a reputation as a financial villain. Her illegal stock trading case and conviction threatened to destroy her brand. Yet Martha Stewart bounced back and became bigger than ever.

What went wrong

In late 2001, Stewart sold all of her shares of ImClone Systems after illegally receiving information that the stock was in trouble. Ongoing media scrutiny and a highly publicized trial prompted Stewart to step down as CEO and chairwoman of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

She was found guilty in March 2004 and sentenced to a five month federal prison term. Following her incarceration, she served two years of supervised release including five months of electronic monitoring. The federal prison stint threatened to undo Stewart’s carefully crafted image. Media speculated that her conviction and prison sentence would be the end of her empire.

How she fixed it

Martha Stewart owned her mistakes rather than hiding them. While her lawyers identified issues that could have led to an acquittal, she faced the music and started serving time early.

After serving her sentence, Stewart returned to her roots as a lifestyle icon. She wasn’t shy about her comeback attempt, and it paid off for her. Stewart launched two TV shows, wrote a book, developed merchandise deals, and more. In 2011, she rejoined the board of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. These days when Martha Stewart makes headlines, few stories make mention of the fact that she’s a convicted felon.

What we can learn

Prior to the stock trading scandal, Martha Stewart had a great reputation as a lifestyle guru with a massive fan base. Her fans wanted to see her pull through, so it was no surprise when she did. Additionally, she owned her mistakes, served her time, and then move on.

Robert Downey, Jr.

Robert Downey, Jr. has had a career of ups and downs. During the 1980s he was in the cast of Saturday Night Live and earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance in Chaplin. But when his career was shining, a stint of drugs and arrests nearly cost him everything. Then, Downey turned his life around and starred in iconic roles including Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes.

What went wrong

Downey had serious problems with drugs from 1996 to 2001 which lead to several arrests and stints in rehab. He was once so inebriated that he fell asleep in his neighbor’s bed. Downey went on probation and served six months in L.A. county jail before he finally ended up with a three year prison term. He was also fired from projects when he didn’t attend rehearsals or when his arrests and drug problem made him a liability.

How he fixed it

After his last arrest in April 2001, Downey realized he had to get his act together and entered a rehab program to get on track. He told Oprah, “I said, ‘You know what? I don’t think I can continue doing this.’ And I reached out for help, and I ran with it.”

Downey was eventually able to get new acting jobs, but he was kept on a short leash. Mel Gibson paid the insurance bond for Downey’s role in The Singing Detective. Joel Silver also withheld 40% of Downey’s salary until after production wrapped on Gothika.

Downey proved he was reliable on these projects, and was once again finding active work. In 2008, he really turned things around by appearing in blockbuster films Tropic Thunder and Iron Man. Since then, his success has continued with reprisal roles as Iron Man and the title role of Sherlock Holmes.

What we can learn

During his drug addled years, Downey proved that he was a risk that simply wasn’t worth taking. But he made the smart move to get serious help and then stayed that way. While Downey’s image was troubled in the past, he worked hard to build a new reputation.

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton was the 42nd President of the United States — but was impeached due to scandal. Now, Clinton is more popular than ever, and the hottest ticket in the Democratic party.

What went wrong

Clinton was plagued by a sex scandal and sexual harassment charge that led to impeachment and a Senate trial in 1998. Though he was eventually acquitted, he suffered lasting damage. By 2001, Clinton was scrambling to repair his reputation.

How he fixed it

In the years that have followed Clinton’s presidency, he’s made smart choices in his public perception. Clinton has taken on a number of issues that the public is concerned with, including HIV/AIDS initiatives, climate change partnerships, and global public health. He also partnered with fellow former President George H.W. Bush to form the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund and Bush-Clinton Tsunami Fund.

In addition to staying active in the public eye, Clinton has maintained a strong political presence. He spoke at every Democratic National Convention since 1980, and he is second only to President Obama as the hottest Democratic speaking ticket.

What we can learn

Even Presidents make reputation-damaging mistakes that have the potential to be a lifetime problem. But Clinton has bounced back and improved his reputation, boasting a 66% approval rating. Clinton made smart moves by not retreating after the scandal. Instead, he stayed active to further develop his reputation.

Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore was once a troubled child star. She dealt with drug abuse, a suicide attempt, and family drama early on in life. But after shedding her bad girl image, Barrymore moved on to become a respected adult in Hollywood. Her resume consists of starring roles, director credits, her own production company, and now a line of makeup.

What went wrong

Barrymore struggled with substance abuse early in life. She became an alcoholic at age 9, addicted to cocaine at 12, and attempted suicide at 14. Drew developed a bad girl image. She spent time in rehab twice before turning 15, flashed David Letterman for his birthday and posed nude for Playboy.

How she fixed it

Barrymore started to set her comeback in motion at 15 when she went to court and argued for emancipation from her mother who she said was a bad influence. But her comeback gained speed as she took on smart roles in the mid to late 1990s and 2000s. Her roles in Boys on the Side and Scream gave her a more positive image. But her starring role in The Wedding Singer and other successful romantic comedies shot her to A-list status.

What we can learn

Barrymore clearly made big mistakes in her younger years, but she didn’t let her past hold her back from the future she wanted. Though a reputation as a child drug addict and bad girl is tough to overcome, Barrymore consistently delivered as a professional actress. She did such a great job that her past mistakes no longer mattered.

Your online reputation matters. Connect with our team for help!

Paula Deen

Paula Deen had a successful career as a celebrity chef. She had a hit Food Network show, cookbooks, products, and restaurants. But everything came crashing down when she admitted to using hateful racial slurs. But Deen didn’t give up. She kept her social media following alive and even formed a new company called Paula Deen Ventures.

What went wrong

Deen was sued by a former manager at Deen’s Lady & Sons, and Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House for sexual and racial harassment. In a deposition for the case, Deen admitted to using the “n word” in the past. She lost her spot on the Food Network, her deal with Smithfield Foods as well as paid food endorsements. Deen’s cookbook was also rejected by her publisher.

How she fixed it

Deen is still working on her comeback, so we can’t quite say she’s fixed it yet. But after losing practically every partnership she had, Deen is on the right track to rebuilding her brand. She finally acknowledged how offensive her remarks and justification were. And though she’s no longer welcome in many of her old haunts, Deen has found new ones.

Deen has maintained a strong social media following with fans that have supported her throughout the scandal. Her Facebook page continues to boast nearly 4.5 million fans, and her Twitter account has 1.2 million followers. Her team still actively engages with both networks. She also continues to publish Paula Deen Magazine, which reportedly grew subscriptions by 40% last year.

Perhaps the biggest part of Deen’s comeback is her new company, Paula Deen Ventures. Deen launched the online platform to showcase her content because her fans wanted to see digital content rather than a return to TV. Deen says she’s happy to have complete creative control over her brand, which will also feature her old Food Network shows.

What we can learn

Past mistakes, no matter how old, can come back to haunt you when you least expect them. And handling a sensitive situation poorly will only make it worse. However, taking time to realize what’s gone wrong can have enormous impact on rebuilding your reputation. Perhaps most importantly, Deen didn’t turn her back on the fans that stuck around. Instead, she listened to what they wanted. It still remains to be seen how well Deen’s comeback will play out, but it looks like she’s on the right track.

Mark Sanford

Like Clinton, former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s reputation and career suffered due to an extramarital affair. Sanford was also impeached, but he came back to earn a congressional seat with a reputation on the mend.

What Went Wrong

In June 2009, Sanford disappeared for six days. His phones were turned off and he did not respond to messages. A spokesman reported that he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. However, Sanford eventually revealed that he had been in Argentina visiting a mistress. Sanford declined to resign and was impeached. Although the charges were dropped, as he was term limited and ineligible for re-election. As a result of the scandal, his wife left him and he paid the largest ethics fine in state history for using state resources for personal travel.

How He Fixed It

After leaving office in 2011, Sanford stayed off the radar. But when he was ready to come back to run for a House seat, he was very open about the affair. He even made his affair the subject of his first TV ad. Sanford won 54% to 45%, and he credits his success to his team of volunteers. But, experts say he still has a long way to go to rebuild his reputation.