Scandalous personal brand? No thanks, reality TV!

18 02 2009

Since starting at Centennial in September, something that I’ve heard over and over again is that I need to have a personal brand in the PR world. Everyone keeps saying that I’m supposed to brand myself to show potential employers that I have the skills and characteristics that make me the best person for the job. Ok, that makes a lot of sense, even if it does feel a little strange to think of myself as a packaged brand. Although, I guess it’s easier to picture myself as brand if I think of it as an obsessively neatly packaged, TV-addicted brand…

Gossip GirlAnyway, the whole idea of branding got me thinking about something that I read on a TV.com blog last week about Bravo working on a realty version of Gossip Girl. Basically, the show will follow the rich and privileged students of Manhattan’s most elite private schools, and broadcast their all their personality quirks to the world. Their potential audience includes individuals who may be influential in terms of their acceptance to college, or acquiring their dream job in the future. For some teens, this could be a good thing – being on their best behaviour during the show’s filming could allow them to demonstrate their positive attributes and sell their personal brand. However, the premise for this show is a real life Gossip Girl, a TV show in which no one is ever on their best behaviour.

Showing privileged teens indulging in the finer things in life, throwing lavish parties and getting caught up in high school drama may make for good TV, but it does not build a very good personal brand. The intention of the show is to find a group of teens who are the real life Serena van der Woodsen, Chuck Bass and Blair Waldorf, which means that some serious drama and scandal are certainly in store for viewers. Unfortunately for the show’s cast, I really can’t imagine that drama and scandal are things that college admissions departments or employers would like to see in an applicant’s past. Opening up your life to the world may seem fun and exciting to a teenager who dreams of fame, but a show with a goal of capturing the drama and elitist behaviours of Manhattan’s wealthy teens does not seem like a good way to present your personal brand.

So, I think in building my own personal brand, it may be best to stay away from starring in scandalous reality TV shows – it probably won’t lead to a successful career in PR. It may be hard to give up on my dreams of having every single moment of my life exposed to the world, but I think it may be best if I just stick with building my brand through my online presence with social media. I’d say it’s a little easier to delete an embarrassing picture from Facebook, than it would be to eliminate all records of an embarrassing reality TV show.

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Welcome-to-the-Dollhouse.com

9 02 2009

This Friday will be a big day for Joss Whedon fans everywhere – at 9 p.m., FOX will premiere Whedon’s newest series, Dollhouse. In case you aren’t familiar with the GENIUS that is Joss Whedon, he’s the guy behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Serenity. I would be lying if I said I’m not really excited to see what Dollhouse is like. TV.com summarizes the show as follows:

The Dollhouse is a very secret, and very illegal, place where wishes come true. Clients with the right connections and enough money can hire “Actives”, people who have been programmed to perfectly fulfill the needs, and desires of their clients. The Actives are people who have chosen, for their own reasons, to surrender their bodies and minds for a five-year stay in the Dollhouse. Now they can be imprinted with any personality, skill, or even muscle memory. They can be the perfect companion, lover, spy, assassin; and when the job is done they forget everything.

But something is wrong with the Active called “Echo”. No longer just a blank slate waiting for her next assignment, Echo is remembering flashes of the lives that she has lived and the games she has played, and she is starting to wonder just who she really is…

I’m a big fan of Whedon’s past work, so I’ve got high hopes, but I logically feel that I can’t make a judgement on the show until I’ve seen it. This is why I can’t believe how many fan forums and blogs are already out there, devoted entirely to Dollhouse. I even came across a blog called “Dollrific!”, where a fan has been blogging about the show since last spring. It hasn’t aired a single episode, but Whedon fans are already coming together to support the show – and try to save it from cancellation.

That’s right, fans – or people who assume they’ll be fans – started campaigning as early as May 2008 to save Dollhouse. While I find this pretty strange, I also think that it’s smart, considering the fate of Whedon’s last TV endeavour. When FOX aired Whedon’s Firefly in 2003, it lasted only one season and the cancellation resulted in a lot of angry fans. So this time, fans aren’t waiting until after cancellation to show FOX that they want this show to stay on the air. Instead, they’re being pre-emptive and using social media to band together early. They’re taking advantage of blogs, forums and wikis, and discussing the show they’re all eagerly anticipating.

DollhouseI know I may appreciate the enthusiasm of these fans in the future if I come to like Dollhouse and FOX talks about cancelling it, but I just can’t bring myself to participate on any of the websites I’ve come across. I feel like delving too far into this Dollhouse world may ruin the show for me before I even see it. For example, Dollhouse Wiki (which was actually set up by FOX) has spoilers for the first 10 episodes, which I have no desire to read because I don’t want to know what’s coming. Although I must admit, I’m quite amused by the Dollhouse paperdolls that users of the wiki can download, print and assemble.

Joss Whedon has a very loyal fan base, which I do include myself in, but I think what really boggles my mind about the huge online community that has formed around Dollhouse is that there haven’t been any episodes to talk about yet! I can’t figure out for the life of me how there are currently more than 22,500 posts on Dollhouse Forums when there is nothing to talk about besides the production and anticipation of the show. I mean, it’s pretty clear that I like to talk about TV, but 22,500 posts about a show that hasn’t aired? That’s impressive.

So, as I eagerly await Friday night’s premiere, I’m left wondering if this pre-emptive online community will help or hinder Dollhouse. Will fans using social media be successful in keeping a good show on the air? Or, will the anticipation result in disappointment from high expectations that simply cannot be met? For now, I suppose all I can do is set my VCR and wait.