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Lights, Camera, PR?

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Posted At: March 6, 2013 2:35 P.M.
by Jessica Ruffin

I’ll never forget the day that I was sitting behind a desk in Los Angeles and calmly said into the phone, “Hello, may I please speak with the representative for Charlie Sheen?”

I was put on hold for about 20 minutes, but I eventually did speak with Mr. Sheen’s right-hand man.

Working alongside celebrities in public relations is both exciting and taxing. This summer, I was rewarded with the amazing opportunity to intern with a sports and entertainment firm called Crimson Marketing and Public Relations (CMPR) in beautiful Los Angeles, Calif. The company hosted many events while I was there that allowed us interns to brush elbows with Hollywood’s rich and famous.

However, I found that working to shape or protect the image of a Hollywood celebrity isn’t always glamorous. During my time in the City of Angels, I learned many new things about this sought-after area of PR.

Put away the pom-poms
When you’re working in public relations for a celebrity, you aren’t a fan. It’s important to remember that celebrities are expecting you to be a PR professional – otherwise, they won’t take you seriously and may not want to work with you.

CMPR held a pre-party for the ESPY awards this summer and invited some well-known athletes, actors and singers to the event. As much as I wanted to get a picture with the actor who plays Big Mike in “The Blind Side” or BCS champion Vince Young, I wasn’t able to do so. I had to remain professional, especially because I was interning. If it’s your favorite actor, remain calm and professional – and then call your best friend when you get home.

A transparent image
In public relations, your work is often in the limelight and scrutinized by many people. However, working with celebrities takes this transparency to a new level. High-profile celebrities are constantly being followed by paparazzi who are looking for even the slightest bit of juicy gossip. If you’re representing a celebrity, you need to consider all potential outcomes if your celebrity client chooses to take your advice. You don’t want to find his picture on the cover of Star magazine with an unpleasant headline.

What weekends?
Public relations is known for requiring its practitioners to devote long hours to their craft. Working for high-profile celebrities only heightens this obligation. Your phone must always be on in case your superstar client needs to contact you. Representing celebrities does not allow you the luxury of having relaxing weekends or technology-free nights. You are their go-to when they need advice – or when something goes wrong. Take the Tiger Woods scandal in 2009. I can only imagine how little sleep his PR rep got trying to clean up that mess.

Incredible memories
Although working with celebrities can be tiresome and stressful, it’s also one of the most fun areas of PR to work in. Not everyone can say that they met Joe Namath, attended the Grammys, or flew to Miami for a movie premiere. When you work with celebrities, you gain access to opportunities that most don’t have. It can be an exhausting area of PR, but one that will give you memories for a lifetime.

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