Posted: October 31, 2012 2:12 P.M.
by Nicole Hohman
Image is everything.
For those in the entertainment industry, image is a crucial factor of being successful. Though image may not be the only component (raw talent is also preferred!), having a unique, positive image can be essential to a celebrity’s career.
This is where the publicist comes in.
Take Lindsey Lohan for instance. Lindsey has been dubbed “The walking PR nightmare.” She has been plastered on the front pages of tabloids since her first public debacle — not in a positive way, I might add. From one mug shot to the next, most people wonder how a single person can damage her image over and over again. From a PR perspective, I wonder how a publicist would even be able to tame her, much less improve her image.
Her latest fiasco caused her publicist to resign.
As an aspiring actress working toward a PR degree, I want to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. Throughout the course of my collegiate years, I have learned that publicists play an integral role in shaping and maintaining a celebrity’s image — among other responsibilities.
Here are a few common misconceptions about publicists:
Beware of the glam — it’s all just a sham
Some may call the work of a publicist deceiving, but in my opinion, it is just the opposite. Rather than having a business or organization as a client, publicists represent an individual (or team in the sports area of the entertainment industry). Just as a PR professional would form a communication plan to brand a client organization, so too would a publicist create a plan to brand her celebrity.
The media has chalked up entertainment PR to be a glamorous, party-filled career. Shows like The Hills portray publicists as being able to casually mingle with celebrities, plan top-notch events and take clients to red carpet premiere?s. This is far from accurate. While being social and attending promotional events with a client is a vital part of the job, publicists are rarely off the clock.
It’s all about who you know
Yes, cultivating relationships and networking are important — as they are in most careers. Knowing names at every media outlet may get a publicist media coverage of her client, but it will not ensure positive coverage. Publicists must be persistent and dedicated in order to successfully execute the tasks conceptualized by the professional and approved by the client, not just call up their contacts in the industry.
Socially irresponsible or not?
Working as a background actor and stand-in on the CW’s T.V. show The Vampire Diaries, I have learned quite a bit about authenticity. Though it may be hard to believe, some celebrities are not simply participating in social responsibility missions to improve their image. Some celebrities don’t participate in social responsibility projects at all, and that is their decision.
Just like any communication plan, social responsibility may be incorporated if the client is willing. How convenient would it be for a publicist to deal with a client who has the genuine desire to make a difference?
Here is a perfect example: Ian Somerhalder, principal actor on the show and heartthrob (called Mr. Smolderhalder by fans), is also a philanthropist. It may come as a surprise, but Ian is one of the most authentic people I have encountered in the industry. Ian has his own foundation (The Ian Somerhalder Foundation). Behind the scenes, Ian has a vested interest in the environment, and it is one of his primary topic choices in conversation. His foundation may be promoted by a publicist, but the interest is all his own.
Though there are various misconceptions about celebrities and entertainment PR, there is often much more to a publicist than meets the eye.