So you think working in the entertainment industry is all glitz and glamour?
Sure it is. That’s how they show it in movies, and since when has Hollywood ever distorted reality.
Last week, I attended a PRSA panel on entertainment PR, which was led by a number of professionals in the industry. The panel consisted of PR representatives for Tiger Woods, Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen; topics included crisis communication in the wake of social suicide and strategies for crafting an entire marketing campaigns around the word: Tigerblood.
Ok, I might be lying.
The actual panel consisted of a number of Nasvhille-area professionals who shared a little bit about the nature of entertainment PR. I was also especially intrigued to hear how social media has affected the industry in the past few years.
Lesson Learned: Entertainment PR is a business of expectation management.
There’s probably not another area of public relations where you’re working to balance so many parties who all feel so… entitled. Media relations and clients of this industry are often high-profile and hold high expectations. Attempting to balance those expectations amid a myriad of individual PR campaigns, endorsement contracts, and legal stipulations… well, good luck.
Lisa Chader, SVP of communications for Country Music Television (CMT), painted a picture of launching a hypothetical television series: Imagine the mechanics of producing a television show, the pressure from the network, and the amount of viewers and national publicity needed to even survive the first couple weeks. Shooting for the series might begin at 9 a.m.; you have journalists wanting celebrity interviews at 7 a.m.; and you have a super-star celebrity who won’t stroll on set until 8:55 a.m (and when they do, they will most likely be in a sub-par mental state for delivering the high-quality interview you were hoping for…). Sounds stressful.
I don’t understand, I thought you people sipped mai-tais all day and mingled with Pierce Brosnan and the like? Huh. Maybe you don’t.
Yet despite demanding daily work, the constant rush of the entertainment industry sounded equally exciting. Overall, the panelists spoke fondly about years of publicity efforts for A-list celebrities, country music stars and network television shows such as The Biggest Loser and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. As Chader talked about her work on South Park and VH1 celeb reality, she also joked about the failures she’s had over the course of her career. Yet amid her sarcastic self-criticism, I detected a true enjoyment in what she does. I concluded that the most important trait to possess is “tough skin,” and that launching and marketing a successful book/celebrity/television series requires a combination of luck, grit, insanity and desperate attempts at creating viral web content.
It was also interesting to hear how social media has affected the industry. For one thing, avenues such as Twitter allow fans to feel directly in touch with celebrity’s interests, whereabouts and lives. When Justin Bieber sends a good morning tweet to his 10.9 million followers and attaches a picture of the view from his Las Vegas hotel room, it’s a more personal and immediate connection than those same followers get from a gossip magazine.
Because of that, many entertainment star’s have gained quite a loyal following, not to mention incredible clout in their own personal marketing efforts. Carrie Simons, another panelist, owns Triple 7 Public Relations (with office locations in Nashville, New York and Los Angeles) and represents workout guru Jillian Michaels. Simons talked about Jillian Michael’s ability to tweet about a new workout dvd and have it achieve number one in sales by the end of the week. With traditional PR and advertising aside, imagine the power of influence. Suddenly, there’s a way to reach a following without the use of the media — a way that’s powerful, personal and immediate.
However, celebrities are not the only one’s attracting a loyal following. Entertainment organizations, such as CMT (followed by over 88,000 on Twitter), are gaining the similar reach via social media. According to Chadler, a quick Twitter update sometimes replaces the formality of a press release. For all of PR, social media is changing the way we interact with journalist, build support for our clients, receive and use feedback, as well as monitor coverage and opinions.
My overview hardly touches on the amount of information I received that day. The panel discussion allowed me a glimpse into an industry area of which I was completely unfamiliar. Whether entertainment PR is for me, I cannot yet say. Yet if the Biebs comes begging at my doorstep after I gain a little professional clout of my own, I can’t see myself turning the poor kid away. There’d definitely have to be mai-tai’s in the contract, though.