Hollywood PR machine gains horsepower

February 26, 2008

There was a time when reporters covering Hollywood could simply pick up the phone and call someone glamorous and important. Not anymore. As The New York Times reported Sunday, the morning before the 80th Annual Academy Awards presentation, Hollywood’s PR machinery has grown to heretofore-unseen levels.

Now it’s not just the stars who have publicists — studio executives have them, too. Tiny movies roll into film festivals armed with teams of PR people. Sometimes, even the publicists seem to have publicists, the Times wrote.

Oscar-specific publicity has been flourishing for well over a decade, at least since Miramax Films used a promotional machine to help snag seven Academy Award nominations for “Pulp Fiction.” The academy then banned campaigning by direct mail, and publicists found other techniques for grabbing attention — screenings, parties and political provocations, to name a few.

Today, if a reporter calls Universal Pictures with a question, a publicist will ask lots of questions in return: What’s your angle? What have you got? Who else is talking?

“It can be very illuminating when you reach across the fence,” Stacy Ivers, senior vice president for media relations at Universal, was quoted as saying. Journalists are not always forthright about their intentions, she reportedly told the Times, so a smart company communications officer will play reporter.

— Compiled by Greg Beaubien for Tactics and The Strategist Online


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