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Amid tight marketing budgets, Hollywood leans on public relations to promote movies

November 24, 2009

With the DVD market depressed and movie sales to foreign television networks drooping, Hollywood studios are reining in runaway marketing budgets, The New York Times reports. The biggest movies are still backed by huge ad buys, but as studios otherwise cut paid media like newspaper ads, television spots and billboards, they’re leaning more heavily on PR practitioners to generate earned media.

With placed stories, “there is a feeling that the message has gone through a filter,” the Times quotes Paul Pflug, co-owner of the entertainment-PR firm Principal Communications, as saying. Articles are more valuable to studios because viewers consider them more credible than ads, he said.

Social media are also changing the publicity game in Hollywood, the Times reports. Studio PR apparatuses monitor and create attention on sites like Twitter and Facebook, where some movie characters now have profiles.

To boost coverage of its new comedy “Couples Retreat,” Universal Pictures staged a lavish junket, flying writers and TV reporters on an all-expenses-paid promotional trip to the South Pacific island of Bora Bora, where the movie is set. The trip reportedly cost about twice as much as a standard junket to Los Angeles or New York, but it generated at least four times as much media coverage, by studio estimates. — Greg Beaubien


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