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Scene 1: Camera One pans to girls at door. A faint voice states “thirty seconds till we air.” Final checks in place, Louboutins (check), black dress (check), clipboard (check), stern look (check.) Let’s roll, 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . air.
Camera Two pans to X celebrity arriving in the black sedan and walks up to red carpet; she stops to pose for a few photos to hear cat-calling from paparazzi in the galley. Cut to second scene.
Scene 2: Louboutin-wearing girls hovering around a VIP table having a cocktail (yes, at their own event) and hanging out with their friends they snuck in. Drama begins to unfold. Cut, end scene.
Okay, how many of us have watched reality and primetime television shows where this act is played over and over again? (Pause for all PR people to verbally grunt at the computer.) Exactly.
Recent turmoil has been unleashed in response to Kim Kardashian’s announcement of a PR reality show appropriately reported on People.com. My immediate reaction was frustration and defense of the PR industry as a whole. Then I wrote this blog post. While my first draft is lying nicely in my trash can, I came to a realization that I can see the glass half full on this matter. Please hear me out.
As Lauren Fernandez eloquently pointed out in her blog post Monday, Publicity is different from PR. I concur on this matter with a footnote that publicity is still a form of public relations and has proven successful for corporate clients as well as the entertainment industry.
As I was emotionally ranting of the frustrations that PR is not just red carpets, designer duds, and celebrities, I found myself being a hypocrite. Currently I finished a publicity/PR event that involved step and repeats while wearing a designer dress and shoes, clipboard in tow, and there was a celebrity involved. How is this any different? No, I am not having cocktails with J-Lo and having Versace designers knocking on my door with free gifts, but in some form I am producing the same type of a publicity event and exceeding the client’s expectations in the process. While my background primarily lies in events and launches, my day-to-day public relations duties consist of social media, writing, networking, and all the normal corporate communications.
Publicity events for corporate clients with celebrities, red carpets, and features in magazines are only the icing on the cake for this form of public relations. Sure, the drama surrounding the on-site events holds the sex appeal to draw millions of viewers, but as PR professionals we all know where the REAL drama lies: behind the scenes. I believe this is the sore spot with everyone in this industry. Where are the cameras when the nuts and bolts to the campaign or event are being born? Brainstorming sessions conducted a la Mad Men style (in no reference to Sunday’s episode), ideas being pitched to clients, hundreds of creative design ideas for invitations, step and repeats, Web sites, logos, press releases being written (and the twenty revisions), media lists compiled, talent negotiations, do I really need to keep going? I think we understand all the hard work that happens behind the scenes that makes PR and publicity campaigns work.
So, one may ask, “Why are these scenes edited?” My guess: viewers, money, advertisement dollars, and TV executives. Outside of the PR industry, we would lose the general public on the first draft of a press release. The producers, and general public, want the glitz and glamor. Is this necessarily the “right” thing to do? No, but PR isn’t the only industry in the same boat. What about “Making the Band” and “Project Runway?” Is it really this easy to get a record label or a four-page feature in a major fashion magazine for up-and-coming artists? Are all the steps and dirty laundry revealed? No! Why? Million dollar word: viewers!
While some view publicity as Louboutin-wearing blondes with a clipboard obsession, publicity is a form of media relations that has proven successful for many clients. Our problem lies more in the lack of education to the public on the different sectors that lie within the PR industry. Trust me that a successful publicity event uses as much communication as a traditional press release launch, plus a few side orders of event logistics. Now, I can’t say the individuals participating in Kim’s reality show hold these same standards, but they shouldn’t be held as the poster children to the Publicity ring either.
Therefore, PR flacks, I challenge you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the drama that someone else will be experiencing and revel in the fact you are sitting on the couch when their talent says the wrong name of the product!