PUBLICITY STUNT
AN EXAMINATION OF PUBLIC RELATIONS IN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY







Copyright 2002
Lorenzo Kaufman

In order to understand the drastic role that the Internet has played in the field of public relations to the entertainment industry, it is important to get an overall view of the changes the World Wide Web has made to public relations in general. Years ago, public relations was built on influencing public opinion and building relationships to the public by means of focus groups, press kits sent to houses, and other activities which revolved around the once arduous task of reaching people with the message you want them to receive.

B.L Ochman, the president of a full-service agency including public relations, whatsnextonline.com, says that he believes that the Internet has changed these formal relationships to an opportunity for companies to have “one-to-one communications with their customers.”

O
chman says that the Internet has also created a “peer-to-peer network,” that when people talk to each other “customers, analysts, the stock market, and competitors hear what’s said.” The focus has shifted from making external evaluations in order to influence public opinion to trying to influence opinions online through online newspapers, forums, chat rooms, and mailing lists. The world of public relations has changed drastically, especially for entertainers whose careers are based on gaining and keeping public opinion.

The entertainment industry strives on public relations, public awareness and marketing. Before the Internet, these jobs were mostly done through surveys taken outside of movie theatres and concerts, fliers, advertisements, and talk-show appearances. There were few movie critics, mostly for major magazines and newspapers. Now with the added technology, new methods of public relations are being constructed to adapt to a changing culture in Hollywood. Hundreds of public relation firms have opened, catering only to entertainers, and only performing online campaigns. A musician can now start his career completely over the Internet, with a web site, and some strategic online marketing. Actors can now have discussions with an audience in an Internet forum, taking questions from people across the country. Executives at movie studio can have the movie’s trailer put online for people to download on their home computers. Fans of these entertainers can come together to discuss and debate topics about their favorite celebrities on either fan sites which are web pages made by fans of an entertainer, or web sites like IMDB.com, which allow forums to be held about favorite directors or have the online user rate his/her favorite movie. This type of public relations is known as viral marketing. When done correctly, viral marketing becomes a “word of mouth on steroids”, with good publicity being spread from consumer to consumer without the assistance of the public relations practitioner. When done correctly, the web site believes that “you can create a buzz about a product or service offering at far less of an expense and in a much quicker fashion than any other channel available to the average PR professional.”

Despite all the advantages that the Internet has made available to public relation professionals in the entertainment Industry, the practitioner cannot simply sit back and let devices like viral marketing occur unmonitored. The Internet does consist of many useful sources for allowing fans to embrace your product. However, in the same respect, some of this freedom is met with bad publicity.

 

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