Kristen Stewart Cheating Scandal: PR Experts Assess Her Chance of Recovery

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When Kristen Stewart dropped her bombshell confession that, yes, she cheated on Robert Pattinson, the news came as a shock even to those who don't follow Twilight and the young Hollywood power couple's offscreen romance.

As for superfans of the vampire film saga? The 22-year-old actress might have to work overtime to win many of them back.

A media feeding frenzy -- nay, a celebrity earthquake -- erupted Wednesday after Us Weekly published a series of incriminating photos of Stewart in compromising positions with Rupert Sanders, a married father of two, who also directed her in this summer's Snow White and the Huntsman.

With the embarrassing evidence on display for the world to see, Stewart 'fessed up in an earnest and apparently unscripted statement to People magazine, declaring: "I'm deeply sorry for the hurt and embarrassment I've caused to those close to me and everyone this has affected. This momentary indiscretion has jeopardized the most important thing in my life, the person I love and respect the most, Rob. I love him, I love him, I'm so sorry."

STORY: Kristen Stewart Cheating Scandal: 10 Developments So Far

Then Sanders, 41, issued an apology to his actress-wife Liberty Ross and their kids, telling THR: "I am utterly distraught about the pain I have caused my family. My beautiful wife and heavenly children are all I have in this world. I love them with all my heart. I am praying that we can get through this together."

Sanders and Stewart, meanwhile, are both attached to a Snow White sequel. No word from Universal on whether that's still a go, given the awkward circumstances, and if the director -- or Stewart, less likely -- will exit the project.

As for Pattinson, he has reportedly moved out of the L.A. home he shares with his (ex?) girlfriend. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2 arrives in theaters Nov. 16, and the press tour is most certainly going to be rough in the wake of Stewart's infidelity scandal.

Which begs the questions: can she ever recover from this? Will her tomboyish/Everygirl image be forever tarnished? Will she keep getting scripts?

According to publicist Matt Hiltzik, who's guided Alec Baldwin through his crises, Stewart is playing her cards right.

"I very much respect what she did," Hiltzik tells THR. "I think that she handled it maturely and responsibly. ... She came across (in her statement) as genuine, and it was smart and noble for her to accept responsibility so she'll be able to move to other things."

In the short term, while promoting Twilight this fall, Stewart should avoid rehashing the situation in interviews and reference her public mea culpa to Pattinson, says Hiltzik; in the long term, he adds, she needs to be selective about film roles and how she handles her personal life in order to put the past behind her and redirect attention on the work.

"She's a 22-year-old young lady, she's made a mistake, I don't think this will define her," says Howard Bragman, Hollywood crisis managment expert and vice chairman of Reputation.com.

"She shouldn't say anything right now. She should be invest her time in trying to save her relationship with Robert if that's indeed what they both want to do. And she should shut up. She shouldn't go do a mea culpa interview. She shouldn't talk about it anymore. All she's gonna do is piss Robert off, piss Liberty off ... piss Rupert off."

Taking the mistake of youth out of the equation, Siri Garber, president of the L.A.-based firm Platform PR, calls Stewart's misstep a cautionary tale for the rich, famous and misbehaving.

"She is very young and that is not a good excuse for her actions, but she is setting a good example by not running away and hiding from the issue," she says. "This is also a lesson to all celebrities that the media is always close at hand and to be very careful what you do in public places."

Twitter: @ErinLCarlson

Email: erin.carlson@thr.com

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