Wednesday June 5, 2013
Its been an interesting week in the world of celebrity interviews and the role of the publicist. I was pleased to hear an item on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning where the term publicist was used consistently throughout but of course for many people 'publicist' is synonymous with PR.
First we had Michael Douglas discussing the cause of his throat cancer - just in case you missed it, you can read about it here. However, once this story went global 'camp Douglas' clearly decided that a denial was in order claiming that he was simply discussing the condition in general. The Guardian has hit back and published the recording and transcript of the interview! Hilarious. But it only serves to draw attention to how 'managed' many interviews are, and not just with celebrities.
In the same week we learned that the actor Rhys Ifans walked out of an interview with The Times. Roy Greenslade of The Guardian discusses this in his blog and the role of PR within it - note that he quite clearly uses the term 'PR' not publicist. "PRs want big space and big headlines to justify their part in the enterprise" claims the comment piece.
I would contrast all this nonsense with the attitude of Kings College Hospital in London where the popular Channel 4 show "24 Hours in A&E" is filmed. Last night I watched a programme about how the show is made and at the end they interviewed the Chief Executive who explained how they were happy to be transparent, to take a risk. Essentially they let the story be told totally unvarnished (of course with the consent of patients). The mutual respect between the journalists/production team and the hospital was evident. Unfortunately the role of the hospital PR team wasn't mentioned - but maybe that's a good thing? PR shouldn't take centre stage should it? The result is a TV show where the viewer comes away with a feeling of warmth, admiration and pride in the NHS. Good PR?
A recent feature in PR Week discussed how the reputation of PR could be improved. Well, all the time that this sort of celebrity malarkey is going on we don't stand much of a chance. The thing is, nobody makes the distinction between publicity and PR. Should we perhaps stop trying to pretend that there is a difference? Are the celebrity scenarios above really that untypical of what goes on a lot of the time with Kings College Hospital being the rarity?