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Hollywood Stereotypes the PR Profession

Robert Chilver

Let me say this first, I don’t watch E! Television shows.

But my girlfriend does and since she can’t pry me away from football all weekend, I’m forced to watch some of these shows with her during the week. But being in the public relations business, I did take the time to ignore my fantasy football team for a half-hour and watch a show called “Spin Crowd,” which chronicles a Hollywood PR firm.

Well needless to say, much like every “reality” TV show, it paints a poor picture of the actual public relations world. “Spin Crowd” is to the PR profession as the “Jersey Shore” cast is to all the residents of New Jersey: an overwhelming, extreme case.

Basically, this Hollywood PR world is made up of only attractive Hollywood-types whose main jobs are to mingle with celebrities rather than pitch stories or coordinate interviews. One character’s sole focus in the episode was to get a photo of Mario Lopez holding a product.

Now I understand that this is likely staged to cater to the channel’s celebrity-centric audience. But it’s a poor indication of the many benefits that working with the other 99% of people in public relations can have for a company. And it’s also a bad example for young students eyeing a career in PR. So for the sake of comparison, here is a little of what you’ll see on the show and how it relates to the real world of public relations.

- The “Spin Crowd” meetings consist of the team going over lists of celebrities who would be best to represent a product. They may know their celebrities well, but a true PR pro will know their reporters even better. A more realistic team meeting will have everyone talking about which publications would be a perfect fit for a client and which reporters they may have relationships with.

- The “Spin Crowd” pages through celebrity gossip magazines for ideas. You’re free to do this on your free time but these magazines won’t help most people in the PR world. Instead, get familiar with as many consumer and trade publications as you can. Our clients vary all the way from business brokers to software developers to stationery companies. Knowing who fits in where, and which reporter is most likely to write about them, will make your job a whole lot easier.

- The “Spin Crowd” attends celebrity-filled product launches and parties. While that might seem like fun, it’s unlikely you’ll be running into the rich and famous. But you will have meetings and conferences to attend and it’s important to make sure your clients are treated like A-list celebrities. Listen to their plans, ideas and marketing strategies; then figure out how you can help them portray that concept to the media.

There are certainly many more ways in which the television show is a far stretch from public relations. Take it for what it is, but realize the ‘reality’ of public relations lies far away from Hollywood. In fact, it’s probably closer to those weekend football games I watch. We fight play by play, pitch by pitch, to get every big placement, a touchdown for your company.