We’ve got dancing celebrities and island survivors, but no PR?

6 03 2009

Why is it that amongst all the crazy TV shows out there, there isn’t one about PR? All we’ve got is semi-PR professional, Samantha Jones from Sex and the City, and the version of PR that she portrays doesn’t seem overly accurate.

If you’re wondering what got me started on this little rant, it was something I created last semester that I just came across when I waThe ApPRentices sorting through some files. For a TV-themed event that I worked on, I created a PR-related logo based off of the logo for The Apprentice. At first, I just thought “Hmm, wouldn’t it be cool if there was a PR version of The Apprentice? But, featuring a boss with better hair, of course.”

Then I really got thinking about it, and despite how many ridiculous reality TV shows have been created in recent years, there’s been nothing (at least, from I can remember) based on PR. Yet. Apparently Kelly Cutrone‘s fashion PR agency, People’s Revolution, is going to be the subject of a new Bravo reality show. As much as I love/fear Kelly Cutrone based on what I’ve seen of her on The Hills and The City, I can’t help but worry that this show will just continue to give people the impression that PR is nothing but glamorous parties and celebrities like we see in Sex and the City. The only thing that’s giving me hope that this will not be the case is Kelly Cutrone’s no-holds-barred, tell-it-like-it-is personality. She’s tough and cares more about being honest than hurting someone’s feelings, which is both kind of refreshing, as well as entertaining for TV.

I guess what I’m getting at is that it would just be really cool to see something on TV that accurately portrays at least some elements of the PR world. For now, it looks like all my hopes are pinned on Kelly Cutrone and Bravo.


TV murder vs. PR blogging

2 03 2009

DexterI’ve given it some thought, and I’ve decided that I’m really glad I’m not Dexter Morgan. I think it’s safe to say that I couldn’t handle the ethical dilemmas that Showtime’s famous blood spatter expert/serial killer overlooks every day. During the day, Dexter plays the part of the upstanding citizen, helping solve crimes with Miami’s police, and during night, he brutally murders the criminals he finds. He justifies his murderous urges by only targeting people who he believes deserve to die because they’ve committed criminal acts. But, how does he make that decision? And why does he get to determine whether or not those people live? Is he any better than those people, or is he just trying to make himself feel better about being a murderer?

Dexter’s twisted issues definitely make for good TV, but boy, am I glad that the ethical dilemmas that arise in PR aren’t nearly as complicated as those in Dexter! For example: ghost blogging – yea or nay? For me, this is much simpler than the question of “to kill or not to kill?” Ghost blogging is a practice sometimes used in PR that I must say I’m not a big fan of. It’s essentially when one person writes a blog as someone else, but does not indicate that it’s not written by the person whose name is on it. Often, communications specialists will write blogs for CEOs or other top management, but it is never indicated that this is what’s happening. To me, a blog is a place for personal thought and opinions, not a place for standardized corporate messages. If a CEO doesn’t have time to write a blog, then they shouldn’t have one – it’s as simple as that. Maybe… this is where the line of ethics becomes a little blurred for me.

While I don’t agree with basically lying and saying that something is written by another person, I think that the practice of semi-ghost blogging can be ok. Provided that the CEO actually sits down with the blog writer to discuss what should be in the blog post, and it’s noted in the blog that the post’s messages are from the CEO, but prepared by the communications specialist, then perhaps it’s ok. I’m just not comfortable with one person’s ideas being passed off as another’s. Like I said before, I believe that a blog is a place to express personal views, so as long as the views in the blog are completely those of the CEO, and credit is given to the writer, then I think I can get behind that.

Anyway, I think the real question here is: With his twisted “ethical” justifications, would Dexter support the practice of ghost blogging, or would he murder a ghost blogger for being dishonest? If I were a fictional Showtime PR professional, I think I’d avoid it, just to be on the safe side.

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.

Won’t you network with me, Ugly Betty??

30 01 2009

So, it seems that I can connect anything – yes, ANYTHING – to TV. The jury’s still out on whether or not this is a neat quirk of mine, or just plain sad…

uglybettyAnyway, to explain why I say this: earlier this week, as the conversation in my career management class turned to the subject of networking, my mind immediately jumped to an episode of Ugly Betty from a few weeks ago. As my teacher, Barry Waite, talked to the class about the networking assignment we’ll be completing this semester, I could not help but be reminded of “Dress for Success,” an episode in which the really-not-so-ugly Betty is required to do some networking for a course she is enrolled in. Similar to what I’ve been hearing since day one of my PR education, Betty is told that if she wants to get anywhere in her career, she MUST network. She is instructed to obtain 40 new business contacts within a week by networking. Faced with this task, Betty is nervous and intimidated by the whole situation, and frankly, so am I.

Throughout the episode, Betty’s colleagues offer their views on networking, which are not at all unlike what I’ve been hearing for the last five months:

“Networking is one of those annoying things, but if you’re serious about your career, it’s something you have to do.”

“The point of networking is to gather information to advance your career.”

Now, I do understand that networking is important and can help my future career, but like Betty, I have some reservations. The idea of talking to people just so that I could potentially use them to get ahead irks me. It feels fake and forced, and I just don’t like it. I know that in this industry, I need to sell myself and my skills if I want to succeed, but there is a fine line between selling myself and selling a fake networking version of myself.

To help Betty overcome her worries about networking, her co-worker Marc, takes her out and offers some advice:

“Step 1: forge a bond – your name, where you work, and one memorable fact. Step 2: fathering information – in order to get info, you’re going to have to give info. The trick is to make it sound juicy, but really mean nothing. And most importantly, step 3: the exit strategy – get in, get info, get out.”

To this, Betty responds as though she’s in my head: “I don’t like to be rude. How do you just stop someone in the middle of a conversation?” This is MY problem – I can’t be rude! I can’t fake interest and then rudely walk away – I’m just not wired like that. To me, building contacts and forming a professional network is more about quality than quantity. I would much prefer to have a few good, solid contacts in the PR world than a ton of business cards from people I don’t really know. Who’s going to remember you – or LIKE you – when you only spend a minute talking with them, clearly using them? I don’t want to get in, get info, and get out. I don’t want to have a two minute conversation with someone, give them my card, and move on – I want to have actual conversations with people in this industry I’m getting into. I want to be remembered as myself, not a fake person who has a nice business card. Although, I don’t actually have business cards yet… Oh Betty, I still have so much to learn from you!

Famous Tweets?

23 01 2009

Recently, I came across a blog post entitled “Movie & Television Social Media Marketing Using Twitter” that immediately piqued my interest. I said to myself, “TV and Twitter? I must know more!” Well, much to my dismay, it turns out that this blog entry was a little bit dated, as it was written in September 2007. However, as I read on, I felt like it was something that could have been written yesterday. The basic premise of the blog is that many Internet marketers are looking to new forms of social media like Twitter to promote the release of new TV shows and movies. It goes on to discuss a variety of innovative ways that Twitter could be used in the future (i.e. right now!) to reach target audiences and create buzz about new productions:

  • providing insight and commentary in real time (i.e. on location during shooting)
  • promoting special contests, sneak previews
  • facilitating collaborative video production experience
  • building conversation about the movie or television season or individual episodes
  • opening dialogue between promoter and promotion participants
  • movie and television website traffic generation
  • promoting events such as movie premieres
  • posting press releases

The reason I say that it sounds like this blog could have been written yesterday is because I personally still don’t see Twitter being utilized a great deal to do this in January 2009. Twitter seems to be growing in popularity, but not yet to the point that this blog proposes it would in this context. I think the only thing from this list of marketing initiatives that I’ve really seen at all is some Tweeting between my friends about certain TV shows – the season premiere of LOST on Wednesday night, to be exact – and while that helps to promote the show, it wasn’t initiated by the marketing team at ABC.

I think the aspect of proposed Twitter marketing for TV and movies that I find particularly outlandish is the idea that if

“during the making of a film, a well known actor, actress or director posted regular Tweets via Twitter via their mobile phone, it’s conceivable that hundreds if not thousands would follow and engage these immediate, seemingly intimate, “insider” posts.”

To me, this just seems completely unrealistic . How are Tweeters supposed to know that the person they’re following is actually the actor or director they claim to be? There are people all over Twitter claiming to be celebrities! I could believe that Tweets from a particular TV network or production company are valid, but individual actors? I’m not so sure about that.

I think that Twitter definitely has potential that has yet to be explored, but the future discussed in this particular blog is certainly not here yet. Though, with a little more time and popularity, Twitter could one day become yet another way for me to obsess over TV.