Celebrity Representation

Bouncer holding photographers backSince the majority of us PR professionals work for agencies where we have a variety of different companies as clients (maybe I’m just imagining this, but that’s definitely the way it seems), there’s a sector of communicators that we all tend to forget about- the straight up publicist.  More specially, celebrity representation.  However, somewhere off in the great, big state of California (pardon me for my generalization), there lives a whole lot of people who work incredibly hard to keep the reputations of their clients squeaky clean, or at least a little bit less awful than they already are. Sometimes I become so wrapped up in agency life that I disregard them.  But then I go on Perez, and I read about all those train-wrecks that we can’t seem to stay away from, and THAT’s when I appreciate them.  That’s when I realize that although it MIGHT be glamorous to work with celebrities and get to go to great parties, it’s certainly not easy.

So, in honor of our counter-parts from the Golden State, here is my list of the top 3 celebrities I would never want to represent (or maybe I would, but only if I was looking for a little challenge and validation of my public relations skills), followed by my list of top 3 celebrities whose publicists do an incredible job of making them seem pretty perfect.

The Top 3 Celebrities I Would Never Want to Represent

1. Lindsay Lohan: A few years ago, Lindsay was on track to be one of the most successful actresses in Hollywood, thanks to her unforgettable performance in Mean Girls.  After a struggle or two with substance abuse and a very public and tumultuous romance, her career and reputation are so far beyond repair that even a complete 180 probably wouldn’t fix it.  There have been tons of celebrities who were able to bounce back after a stint in rehab, but this girl seems completely resistant to taking on any sort of acting role.  And can someone PLEASE take control of her Twitter account?  Every update that she sends out makes her seem like even more of a disaster than she already is.  She needs a social media intervention!

2. Jon Gosselin: Everything this scum bag does is completely transparent, and unfortunately none of his actions suggest that he cares about his 8 little kids in the least.  Instead of being there for them when he and his wife Kate decided to get divorced, he has spent every minute of his free time chasing after women who are only dating him for a little attention of their own.  So not only does he completely NOT understand what it takes to create a positive public image (or be a good human being), he’s also too clueless to realize when he’s being used as publicity tool.  Someone needs to make sure that he’s in a park the next time the paparazzi chase after him instead of in a nightclub that college kids consider a hot-spot.

3. Chris Brown: This one brings morality into play.  I’m not sure that I could sleep at night after spending my days trying to make a guy who beat his beautiful, talented girlfriend into a bloody pulp look good.  No matter how successful his future albums are, he’ll always be thought of as a woman-abuser.

(Honorable Mentions: Amy Winehouse, Lil Wayne, Avril Lavigne, Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, Kanye West, Kristen Stewart, that golfer whose name I’m so sick of hearing)

The Top 3 Celebrities Whose Publicists Deserve Kudos

1. Taylor Swift: She’s sweet, genuine, and best of all, humble.  Every time she wins an award, her honest-to-goodness surprise and awe at the honor make you automatically believe that she deserves it.  Although she’s been romantically linked to a number of other stars, you never see her stumbling out of clubs or getting into trouble.  Even if you’re not a fan of country music, you can’t help but love her.  Authentic perfection or the work of a fantastic publicist? Hmmm..

2. The Beckhams: For two people that don’t seem to be doing much of anything (OK, I know David plays soccer, but still), this couple is EVERYWHERE!  They’re a fantastic model of a Hollywood couple who has managed to raise a great family despite all the craziness and drama that tends to come with fame.  It’s obvious that they take their commitment to their children and each other very seriously.  David has also been known to participate in a number of heart-warming charities.  I don’t mind if they stick around in the states for a while longer (and no, their ridiculous looks have nothing to do with it…)

3. Rihanna: On the VERY opposite of the spectrum from Chris Brown sits Rihanna, a woman who had every right to raise hell after her horrifying experience, but didn’t.  Everything that she did to handle this situation was perfect – from the timing, from how much she said, to WHAT she said.  She was the picture of class and grace when no one would have blamed her for being otherwise.  And now her career is as big and booming as ever. Hopefully she won’t have to be a model for anyone else, but she should be.

(Honorable Mentions: Jennifer Garner, Hilary Duff, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Neil Patrick Harris, Conan O’Brien).

If we have any celebrity publicists who read PRBC, I would be very interested in hearing any stories of horror or triumph.  As for our other readers, are there any celebrities who you would rather change your profession than represent?  Or even any who you are dying to get your hands on? Leave ’em in the comments!

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  • beccameyers

    Girlfriend, I got a whole book for ya! Love the post (as usual).

    But before I get into that, I wanna say once you are in this industry, you dont look at things the same. Like for example, those first two winners you got up there, Lowhan and Jon…happen to have a lot more in common then just sucking at life. They, as far as I was last hearing, share a publicist (Linz has a few). Shocking? Didn't think so.

    So back to the craziness that is entertainment PR. Yet another pro (well depending on how you look at it) of being in this area are the stories. In the moment it's horrible but once it's over and you sit back and realize what just happened, you laugh. You have to or you go insane.

    In fact, taken straight from my blog entry on that new special on TV called SPINdustry, I wrote this:
    “Let's be honest, this isn't brain surgery. We aren't solving the world's problems here and there is pressure but it isn't the kind of pressure that the world is truly effected by. Some entertainment publicists may argue it is but really, its ENTERTAINMENT. THAT is why I love the industry, or SPINdustry if you will.”

    Just a taste of what us publicists go through, and for me personally I am lucky to say that most of my horrors have turned out pretty decent:
    (Note: I am NOT bound by any confidentiality agreements, I CHOOSE to be discreet.)
    1. At a fashion show for dogs. Your client forgot their dog whose in the show. You have to go get it, and find a cab that will take the dog, dress the dog for the red carpet (oh yes) and get across town in 15 minutes.
    2. Navigate them through the other burroughs of NYC besides Manhattan because they suddenly go blank and forgot how to use a nav system, cell phone, or their mouth to ask for help and are already 2 hours late for a shoot.
    3. Get their attention when they are swamped by others (aka hop on Michael Strahan's back and take a piggyback ride to the front of the club at his Superbowl Celebration).

    You get the idea. You think you've seen it all. You think you're prepared for anything. But you're not. It def keeps you on your toes!

  • I work for the company which represents the Beckhams, so I'll pass on the kudos to their publicists 🙂

  • Not to be a Debbie Downer, but the celebs you mark as ones with the good publicists and the ones you point out as needing help have a very distinct divide: one set has never publicly beaten a woman/committed adultery/developed a drug habit.

    These people are, well, people! They sometimes do terrible things. I'm just saying, repping someone surely must be easier when their reputation is still intact.

  • Haha great! Feel free to- I really admire the work 🙂

  • That's totally true and a great point. I'm not trying to say that Chris Brown's publicist is doing a bad job at all. I'm just saying that I'm sure as hell glad that I'm not representing him!!

  • Hugh Grant. Prostitute supporter & Golden boy.

  • Becca, thank you so much for this comment! You are exactly the sort of person I was hoping to hear from, haha. It's so fun to hear your perspective, it's definitely an area I'd be interested in hearing more about (although I'm not sure if I'm an LA person or not). It's awesome that you know the positive way to handle all those crazy days, and I'm so happy that you don't have to represent Jon OR Lindsay 🙂

  • beccameyers

    ew i hate her. i kicked in the calf once i hate her so much.

  • beccameyers

    Past client was the prostitute (of Oscar de la Hoya). Fun times.

  • To be honest I do too, and I'm trying to learn everything I can from them! I agree with the celebs you said are PR nightmares, even though I don't consider Jon Gosselin a celebrity because he isn't talented or even interesting.

    As for the celebrities who I would LOVE to work with one day: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jennifer Garner, and Jennifer Aniston!

  • I agree and disagree with your post. Some celebs are unmanageable. Their images are so tarnished, there's almost no point in fixing them. But, there are a few, like Chris Brown, who (in my opinion) is young and has a bright future ahead of him. Although he's lost fans, he still has a large following. I had a chance to meet him a few months ago and chatted with his management team. He's not being managed correctly. He and Rihanna got into a fight. We won't know what happened that night because he is not going to tell his side of the story. But it doesn't matter. He hit her, which was the ultimate no-no. But I'd hate to see someone so gifted have their career end because they acted so stupidly. His team needs to rebound his career while the ball is still in his court. But if he doesn’t move fast, he may permanently be benched, which is unfortunate.

    I feel the same way about Kanye West. He's extremely talented but he has a knack for sticking his foot in his mouth. Not a good thing when you need fans to stay relevant.

  • christinaschwartz

    Considering my current interest in the field of public relations, I was drawn toward your fascinating post on the topic. Although all sectors of the industry are intriguing to me, celebrity representation is what I find most appealing for a variety of reasons. As you mentioned, it is in part because of the glamorous lifestyle and fun parties that come with the job. However, these perks are not the sole reason (nor even the most important) for why I am interested in this field of occupation. While it seems that your disinterest with representing celebrities is in part due to the job's difficulty and high levels of demand, I see these factors as intriguing. I would love the fast-paced and chaotic lifestyle that coincides with this particular sector of the industry. It makes no sense to me why someone would prefer to deal with companies whose agendas and actions are steady and predictable rather than with celebrities who are capricious and impulsive. However, me being from Southern California (particularly Los Angeles) could be a rather significant factor as to why I feel this way. It seems that around here, everyone wants in on the hustle and bustle action that comes with working in the entertainment industry.

    You go on to mention three stars that you would “never want to represent:” Lindsay Lohan, Jon Gosselin and Chris Brown. Isn't never a little strong of a word? First of all, the three people you mention are very high-profile celebrities. I would think any publicist would be ecstatic to have the opportunity to represent one of them, if not for the excitement, than purely for the paycheck they would receive. Also, working with the most troubled celebrities seems like a challenge that any publicist would be willing to take because it gives them a chance to prove their merit. How does one validate their skills in the industry if they are working with celebrities or companies that already have a squeaky clean image? I understand that celebrity representation is challenging, but it is a challenge that i feel many publicists should and do want to take because it is an exciting career that allows for the opportunity to prove one's merit in the PR world.

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