I often say that no one understands why a media relations representative is important until they are in the middle of a PR disaster. This realization is something that might be going through the mind of rap musician Wacka Flocka.
Mr. Flocka has recently become an Internet cause célèbre because of his less than inspiring interview on a BET show. During the show, Flocka stumbled and mumbled through his way through an interview and then dropped this gem. When asked about the November elections, he said, “Voting cool, voting good, … but I don’t know nothing about that s***!” (His words, not mine.)
There are so many things wrong with this media disaster. First of all, didn’t anybody prepare this guy for his interview, and didn’t anyone ask the interviewers what kind of questions they were going to focus on? And why would the interviewers ask a rapper, who can barely string together an intelligent sentence, what he thinks about the upcoming Mid-Terms? That’s like asking a vegan for directions to a good steak house.
Needless to say, this problem could have been handled by a good PR person. Although many people, especially in the entertainment business, think PR is essentially a fluff job that can be done by any warm body, it actually requires knowledge, talent and preparation. According to the Daily Beast web site, after arranging a PR job for “lady friend” Rohini Singh, Viacom chief Sumner Redstone said, “You don’t need a specialized skill set for PR.”
However, I believe a good PR person doesn’t let his client wander into an interview and come out looking foolish, although, with rappers and other musicians that would be a near impossible task. The Game, a second-generation gang member turned rapper, said that once he could read and write, he didn’t see the purpose of school. When asked what he thought about Barack Obama, rapper DMX said, “What the f*** is a Barack?” And like Flocka, rapper T-Pain also caught flack for bragging about not taking part in the political process.
Here is what a good PR professional should do for his client in terms of media relations:
- Set up, confirm and mediate interviews
- Research the media outlet. What is the focus, who are their key figures, what is their political stance? Is this the right fit for my client? These are all questions the PR professional should ask.
- Prep the client for the interview. Try to get the questions ahead of time and come up with answers for your client. Also, ask your client how they are going to handle a question out of left field.
- Prepare a bulletin list of points that you want your client to focus on.
- Follow up after the interview and send your client a clip.
If you do these things you can save your client from a lot of bad publicity, and make yourself look good at the same time. In the YouTube era, one bad interview can be seen by millions of people before lunchtime. It also has the possibility to stick around on the Internet forever. There is an old Hollywood saying that any publicity is good publicity. But that is not always the case, just ask Michael Richards or Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.
Manny Otiko, vice president of social and new media at Desmond & Louis PR, has worked in the public relations and journalism field for about 15 years as a journalist and a media relations specialist. His experience includes stints as a reporter at a daily newspaper, serving as a media relations specialist for a state agency and working for Southern California public relations agencies, Dameron Communications, Tobin and Associates and WunderMarx PR.
Manny has worked with clients in the public affairs, technology, education and economic development fields. He has secured coverage in publications such as The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal, CNN.com and Men’s Health.
Manny has been published in The Riverside Press Enterprise, The LA Sentinel, The LA Wave, The Washington Afro-Am, IE Weekly and Our Weekly. He is an active member of the Orange County chapter of PRSA, the National Association of Black Journalists and the Black Journalists’ Association of Southern California.
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