The Reality of Being a Publicist

Spinning TopRemember when you were a kid and had all these aspirations of success when you grew up? An astronaut, the president, a chef, a cashier, the sky was the limit. However, it really isn’t until the senior year of high school where reality sets in and you have to figure out what your path will be. Lucky for my generation and future generations we have something called “Reality Television” which can give us good insight to what we want to do. From Ice Truckers to Cake Boss, there are reality shows for almost every profession these days.

What was my calling? Powergirls. Remember that show? The show of a small PR Firm in NYC run by Lizzie Grubman? What a cool job they had. Planning events, hanging out with celebrities, always around pretty people…I would fit in so well. I was too short to be a model, so I decided to become a publicist and declared my major.

Well as I entered the industry, one week after graduation, I realized that Powergirls was way off. Maybe that’s why it got canceled. Regardless, I dove into the industry with what was given to me and have become very successful in what I have been exposed to. Looking back on the show, obviously I thought that being a publicist was all fun and games, but there is way more.

It’s now 2010, and it’s back. The misinterpretation of a publicist…The Spin Crowd. Maybe the worst show known to man, The Spin Crowd chronicles the Napoleon Dynamite twin, Jonathan Cheban and his company Command PR West. As a publicist I know this show is whack and such a misinterpretation of what we do…but this show is “supposedly” the epitome of a publicist, and to the recent graduates that read PRBreakfastClub, do NOT use it as a guide.

Jonathan Cheban is a party planning/promoter and celebrity seeker…not a publicist. He makes people think that all PR is celeb-driven parties. Kids, it’s not. He makes us look dumb, because he is dumb. His show is called “The Spin Crowd” for god’s sake; how much more negative can you get?

In the first episode we were forced to watch his latest associate, get lip injections because she wasn’t up to his aesthetic standards. Hello Jonathan, you need to touch base with Heidi Montag cause she can probably help you get your face transformed, or not :-x. Thanks for making us look like we are all stereotypical shallow people. In addition, his other “associate” is 19. Why is he hiring 19 year olds? College education anyone?

My favorite part of the episode was when Jonathan planned a celebrity party for some “self tanner made for men” and it was hosted by Mario Lopez. All of a sudden, one of his ladies (again stereotype) goes, “OMG, I have the best idea! I was thinking, like, Mario Lopez is the host of Extra, maybe we can, like, get Extra there to cover the party, OMG!” Jonathan then goes…”I LOVE THAT! That’s a great idea!”

Are your kidding me? OF COURSE EXTRA WAS GOING TO SHOW UP. Mario Lopez is the host of the show, obviously they are going to show up – it was probably in his contract. If they were such good “Spin” masters they would have gotten a few other outlets there because, umm, Extra would have done it anyway. Come on people, let’s use our brains today and think outside the box (like a real publicist).

There is no doubt that a reality show about a PR firm can be successful, i.e. Kell on Earth, and informative. My advice to newbies, don’t use The Spin Masters as a basis for a career choice, you’ll end up failing and washed up. Also, I would like to address Kim Kardashian. If you want to produce a good show, with hot people, that are not nit-wits, know what they’re doing and are not ruled by Napolean Dynamite, get in touch with me.


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  • Laney

    When I was looking for my first internship I actually called over to Grubman after seeing PoweRgirls. One introduction and I knew that (a) this can’t be why I am getting a degree in PR and (b) I would probably kill myself after the first month of “party planning.” I mean between Samantha, that god awful show that Uncle Jesse was in and now Spin, it is surprising anyone actually works in PR. I know you mentioned Catrone but even her show is a brief look at what real PR is like.

    But let’s face it, you and I both know that getting doctors on TV to talk about the latest treatment for something isn’t as flashy as say lollipops on the red carpet.

  • Great post. Using television characters as an example, the true representations of publicists and PR counselors would, in my opinion, be Debbie Mazur’s character on Entourage (a few cameos, puts out fires, etc.) and the entire staff from The West Wing (what’s next, what are the implications, message, etc.). Of course, the reality is more like Michael Fox and the staff on Spin City 🙂

  • Thanks for this post–we have to continue to stress the strategic benefit of working with a PR professional. Emphasis on the word ‘professional.’

  • Laney


    I completely agree with you on the West Wing. I think that crew may be the real reason I went into PR.

  • Mark

    its a television show…GET A LIFE!!!!!! its hysterical and they are getting HUGE ratings..

  • Samson

    I’m a corporate PR Manager. Although I agree with you, if you chronicled my week at work, who would watch that on TV? I know I wouldn’t. I consider myself a writer and I believe TV is for escape.

    Are real housewives anything like what we see on those shows? As long as my boss and upper management at my company know the true value of PR, what do I care what the average consumer thinks?

    Would you rather watch Dr. 90210 or my brother in law who is a nephrologist do kidney surgery? To me, my time after work with TV is for escape. I get my news and insights online.

  • Samson, You make a great point, but the point of the post isn’t about escaping in television. It’s about the misconception of the profession – it’s not all chocolate and lollipops.

    BTW, Housewives is my favorite show -yes they act like that in real life, as I am around them often – and I love to escape watching it.

  • Mike – The West Wing example is a great analogy, though in some instances, I’d say West Wing is fairly off, at least in terms of PR professionals’ relationships with key audiences (West Wingers typically obfuscate as much and for as long as they can, they ‘bend’ the truth when necessary, etc.). but I absolutely, 100% agree with you that what you see on West Wing in terms of thinking strategically about the long-term opportunities, implications and consequences of certain communications and PR tactics/strategies is spot-on in terms of what great PR professionals should be engaging in.

  • Kyle

    I think you raise a good point, and I was going to share this post with others, but the you didn’t seem to proofread this post. For a PR professional, writing skills are critical, especially if one is defending the portrayal of our profession.

    • Independentlypr

      Kyle, you should proofread your own posts.

  • Positano1970

    The Spin Crowd, like almost all “reality” shows, is a joke. Jonathan tells Mario Lopez that he was chosen above David Beckham. Really? David Beckham would have laughed in Jonathan’s face to do an ad for a tanning spray. Further, as for Rachel Zoe, I love when they show shots of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and then cut to Zoe’s studio which is on Beverly Blvd. some perhaps three miles east of Rodeo. Reality TV is the new Soap Operas for the 21st Century. BTW – did you ever read the fine print at then end of “Project Runway” where the producers may be involved in the decisions NOT just Ms. Klum and Co. It’s all managed to produce artifice and ratings to masses who continue to be dumbed down by this drivel.

  • Great Points! Reality TV is the new crack cocaine of Y2K, I know i’m addicted 🙂

  • Alexis11

    I would just like to say that Im a senior in high school and was looking foward to a degree in public relations. I have to admit that these shows, such as the spin crowd, are one of the main reasons I wanted to become a publicist. I thought being able to work with celebrities and getting paid was an awsome job but now after reading this article you sort of crushed my dreams and now im rethinking this as my career choice. This article really spoke to me and gave me some insight on if this was really the job for me. Now i just dont know…. confused :/

    • Don’t be sad Alexis, I wanted to be a model but then I found out I was to short 🙁 You’re a senior in High School and have plenty of time 🙂 Don’t get discouraged, not everything on TV is real.

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  • Jenniferbcrr

    Is it a fun job though?

  • Jade

    I’m aware that this post is sort of “out dated” but I am a senior in high school who was also looking to pursue a career in PR and I really appreciated this article. I was wondering if you could help me out and answer a few questions for me, my email is thanks so much 🙂

  • Jainara White

    I know that this article is outdated,but I’m looking into pursuing a career in PR but I have a lot of questions on what to major in, and it would really help me out if you could answer some questions for me my email is:

  • Justin Morph

    The important requirement for a PR professional is to be ready to work in an unexpected environment. It is not an easy job to work in PR today. My personal experience with Image Marketing Consultants CT Marketing Agency has been really good.

  • E. Gladstone

    CT, I am a senior journalism/mass communications major seeking a masters program that would best help me become a publicist. I have researched both PR and Brand Mtg but neither speak to the client aspect. Do you have any advice to offer on which program/university would best suit a future sports/athletic publicist?