Remember when Lana Del Rey ranted about the expectations of the industry that framed her as sentimental, and it led to a heated discussion about white feminism? Or when JK Rowling disappointed millions of Harry Potter Fans with a tweet series about what it means to be a woman that completely erased the trans-community’s belonging? 🤦♀️🤦♀️🤦♀️
The internet is a marvelous place which allows people to rise from a nobody to a viral hit in seconds. The other side of the coin is that reputations that have been built over years, or even decades, can be ruined within a second -- one unfiltered comment, one rant, one misplaced tweet. 🗯 Now, more than ever, celebrities need a PR team.
Here’s a more detailed overview why.
Social media is only one part of PR, but it certainly is increasingly becoming the key part. As an article on SociallyFamousPR reveals, “[i]n the UK 63% of all adults use social media on a regular basis with two-thirds using it daily” and “91% of all 16-24-year-olds and 89% of 25-34-year-olds use social media”. 📱 Essentially, this reaffirms what rings true to most of us: Mass media, especially social media, shapes public opinion. The dilemma of celebrity PR is that you both need and fear this opinion. Keen to find out more about the ways such opinion is shaped through media? Take a look at this post on our GuidedPR blog.
Social media also means that celebrities have a more direct outlet rather than ‘just’ the interviews, photo-shoots, and events their publicists organise and navigate for them. While this accelerated channel of expression is perceived as more truthful on the one hand, it is exactly the pitfall of the examples like JK Rowling: there is no time for damage control. 💥💥 This is the way it works: once it’s out, it’s out. If you want to know more about how social media has changed traditional PR, have a look at my colleague’s article on GuidedPR. 👈
What the statistics mentioned before also show that in an ever digitalised world, digitalising our own lives has become a commonplace. Therefore, a key skill for a celebrity PR is to be tech- and internet-savvy, as Reputation Today points out here. This also means that celebrities are no longer just about their profession or talent, they are brands that need to respond to their audience’s needs while navigating politics, social activism, and, don’t forget about this, a private life.
But it is exactly this “power to inspire”, as this article on PR Week points out, that a clever PR team can help to create and refine. 💖
So, besides that, what does a PR team actually do for a celebrity? 💃
As mentioned before, handling social media and the public appearance opportunities from shoots, to talks, to events is one thing. But that’s only a piece of the multi-layered cake that is celebrity PR. As this post on CareerTrend points out, additionally to being a brand themselves, celebrities liaise with brands on co-operations and product promotions in line with their industry. Another key task is crisis communication. To find out what CC is in more detail, check out Evie’s post on the GuidedPR blog. 👈
Crisis communication can take on various forms, but if we have a look at the current crisis, between death or upending lives, there’s at the least important end of the spectrum “a sense that celebrities are irrelevant”, as poignantly stated in the beginning of this Guardian article’s ironic take on celebrity’s performative responses to the COVID-crisis. While clumsy responses are exposed, the article also offers some insight into what good PR work means in a crisis, which I personally believe, is that it does not, and should not, focus merely on the ego of a celebrity, but use a celebrity’s influence or standing to engage the right channels to raise awareness and to organise funds, for instance. ✅
We should not presuppose, however, that PR is trained to handle a global pandemic. As we’ve seen, no one is. Take this extreme example to understand that. Even though celebrity PR gets a bad rep as being fake and scheming, there are possibilities, if seized well, to actually make a positive difference. I think we could all use some of that positive energy now.✨✨✨
Thus, let us conclude with Oliver Lansley’s words quoted in an article in the Washington Post: “The power of image and the power of PR is so incredibly strong, and our whole society at the moment is built on it”. If this isn’t reason enough for you to figure out why celebrities need a PR team, in all honesty, I don’t know what is. 💁♀️💁♀️💁♀️
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About the Author
Sarah is a PR assistant at GuidedPR. She holds a BA hons in English and Comparative Literature and is currently in the wake of moving to London to start her MA in Modern Literature and Culture at King's College London. She's usually busy writing and consuming caffeine. ☕☕☕
Find her on Linkedin here.