“I’m a publicist, Eric, not David Blaine. …”
– Shauna, publicist for Vincent Chase, Entourage
Shauna, the long-suffering and fierce mother-figure publicist of Vincent Chase in the hit series “Entourage” basically sums up the life of a publicist. A publicist, or a public relations consultant does wonders in terms of promoting a product, service or personality. We make sure your name is promoted and it is promoted right. And that you enjoy a good and healthy relationship with the media. In short, we make you look good…
…but making you look good comes with a price.
This I’ve come to realize a few days ago. I was suffering from migraine and have decided to call in sick. Alone in my darkened room and surrounded by pillows, I took stock of my life so far (at least for the last 3 months) as a publicist. For someone who is sorely anti-social and does not like bullshitting people…I hope I am doing well. Though I can’t deny the fact that the whole “pleasing the client, no matter what” crap is slowly getting on my nerves. I think its so funny sometimes–how can someone who doesn’t have any iota of “refinement” or “finesse” even be qualified to represent a company? Remember how I told you that in this industry, it’s all about “saving face” and “putting your best foot forward”. It’s showing the best while wrestling and finding solutions to arrest the worst. Sad as it may seem, it is being thick faced, with capability to “spin” words into statements that will NOT damage the client or infuriate the media. It’s being nice and approachable 24-7, while being able to hold on firmly to your balls and convictions. It’s about balancing two different worlds: the clients’ needs vs the media requirement.
When I was a young rookie reporter (and didn’t know any better) — we reporters (aka lifestyle writers) laugh at PR practitioners. I know, we were obnoxious and unlettered, confident with barely accomplishing NOTHING. We rail on how they are the source of “press releases that makes a story out of nothing”, of corny media give-aways (ballpen and memo pad anyone?) and of how they try to be “too friendly” with anyone who has a media ID wound around his neck.
Well guess where the obnoxious bitch is now. On the other side of the fence. Life has a way of biting one’s ass you know.
Quite honestly, I don’t know if I really like this job. I am having trouble reigning in my inner bitch, especially when a client is asking for it and tries to lecture me, their PR consultant, on how to do my freaking job. I barely have energy to come up with feigned enthusiasm especially if I am bored out of my skull. I am having problems balancing a demanding client VS a demanding blogger requesting for a loan on precious tech gadgets just because he updates a wordpress site, and thus has this grand delusions of grandeur (aka — he is one hot piece of media ass). I am having problems looking the other way in the name of “company solidarity”. Finally, I am having problems being someone I am not.
At the end of the day, we sell these clients’ (their names, products, services) and their respective corporate drama to the general public and to the ever fickle media. We make them look good, and we try to shield them away from negative publicity.
Yes, when I was younger–I looked at publicists with a suspicious eye. Each time they come near me, a part of me always screams, “so, do you want me to write about your client???” Now that I AM the publicist, I now know how it feels, and feels ashamed about my obnoxious views as a youth. Clearly, I didn’t know any better. The same way I remain lost and clueless till now.