Britney Spears has 30 million Instagram fans and 60 million dollars in the bank. But while she can bank on her loyal fan base for support, she can’t get her hands on her fortune. She has been the subject of a conservatorship for the past 13 years—the legal process whereby another individual or entity assumes guardianship of another’s affairs. And we know some of the apparently gory details because they came crashing into the headlines in June as a result of her impassioned plea to the judge recounting her experience of the conservatorship, seemingly more suitable to a Grimm fairytale than the fairy-tale we might assume that a rich, famous and adored entertainer was enjoying.

The proceedings were conducted in court under the judicial eye of Judge Brenda Penny; outside court they were recounted to the intent ears of the #FreeBritney movement of local fans; and to the rest of the world Spears’ statement was leaked and splashed and shouted across the papers and the airwaves.

This case evidences the fact that today there is not much that celebrities can do without scrutiny. Wealth can buy privacy protection, with homes in discreet locations, loyal staff made perhaps more so under the strictures of confidentiality agreements, and teams of professional advisors ready and able to react in real time to unauthorized disclosures and move to remove private and confidential information from the Internet—I know, I’m often part of those teams. Thus, countless wealthy individuals manage to live their lives successfully, happily and quite properly without ingress from a nosy neighbor, or global media scrutiny.

But the balance between private and public is finer for celebrities where that very term denotes that they inhabit the state of being well-known. Those who live by the camera may not die by it, but they may suffer from it a little, as the camera gives fame and fortune with one hand but takes privacy and control with the other.

How then does someone in the public eye tread the tightrope, disclosing enough to make them a viable and valuable idol to their fans, yet preserving priceless privacy for themselves?

Some celebrities do it rather well. Britney’s fellow songbird Taylor Swift drops into events unannounced, sends fans festive gifts and gives just enough of herself on social media to create a real bond with her “Swifties.” She’s also got a rather good spin going on the “#Free Britney” campaign as she seeks to free herself from the shackles of earlier career decisions, re-recording some of her back catalogue to regain artistic and financial control. Greater love hath no fan apparently, than they will buy the re-recorded albums of their idol to help her make a very important point.

The Britney Army has no impact per se on the conservancy—this will be decided by the judge on testimony and evidence. But their #FreeBritney movement may well have given Britney the confidence and courage to make her move to remove the shackles of conservancy, and has certainly catapulted it into the wider public consciousness.

The other face of a passionate fan base can be less attractive. People can be revolting—as the celebrity of the day Marie Antoinette found to her cost during the French revolution, quite losing her head when the mob turned against her. Swap “Free Britney” for “Fire Amber,” and we see detractors of the actor Amber Heard joining forces in an infantry of Johnny Depp fans, disgruntled to say the least after the perceived injustice of his losing the “wife beater” libel action against the Daily Mail. In raising up their idol, they are looking to topple his former wife, seeking to hit Warner Brothers where it hurts and threatening to boycott the movie Aquaman 2 unless the role is recast.

Today’s celebrities are a different breed from the “stars” of yesteryear. Other-worldly, out of reach, aspirational, we fell in love with characters largely as carefully choreographed, well-lit, well-writ and well-rehearsed as the roles that they played on the silver screen. We knew comparatively little about the life of one such star during her lifetime; public marriages and divorces notwithstanding, our view was predominantly not that of the troubled Norma Jean Mortenson but of the bejeweled Marilyn Monroe as she sashayed through a glamorous life. By contrast today, we can know almost as much about what goes on behind the ostensibly closed doors of the “talent” as what happens on the stage, stadium or screen.  The ability to keep privates private is significantly reduced with a public thirst for news about their favorite—or least favorite—personality matched only by the media’s preparedness to serve it up.

The keys to a successful strategy for media management, privacy protection and reputation preservation are varied, but having a fan base as loyal as Swift’s who will happily go where she does having hitched their wagon to their celebrity star, or one as vocal as Britney’s committed to rescuing their princess from the tower, certainly don’t harm. Recruitment into these armies comes via sufficient social media engagement to engender feelings of loyalty and ownership for a real-life hero, but sufficient not to wash family linen in public and thereby draw negative attention. Whether Britney will succeed in her conservancy goals remains to be seen; that she will remain an adored idol is guaranteed.

Where wealth is the new celebrity, these examples evidence a need to manage your reputation and your privacy as the CEO of your own brand. Failing to do so will hand control to others seeking to capitalize off, or who are jealous of your success. To borrow a line from Hamlet, “tis an un-weeded garden that grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature possess it merely.” Get gardening!

Amber Melville-Brown is head of the media and reputation practice at the international law firm Withersworldwide.