Even after graduating from Salem State University, I am still eager to learn more about the world of public relations. I haven’t learned everything I can about my field, so I make it a priority to gain more insight from the PR pros. One thing I have learned in life is that you never stop learning (even after you graduate from college!). Attending seminars related to your field is one great way of gaining knowledge about your career path. Last night I attended an entertainment public relations seminar at Boston University to learn more about the entertainment industry.
How to Make it in the Entertainment Industry was a panel event held at the 9th floor Colloquium Room in the Boston University Photonics Center. PR students from surrounding colleges in the Boston area gathered together to hear some insights from professionals about their work. Our guests for the evening were Manuel Vera and Danny Rogers. Manny’s specialty is brand management within the entertainment industry. He is a fashion guru for internationally-known celebrities and a publicist for some music icons. Danny Rogers is currently an Editor-in-Chief for PRWeek magazine and author of Campaigns that Shook the World: The Evolution of Public Relations.
The event kicked off with Manny explaining his background story of how he entered the entertainment industry. He was great at telling stories to his grandparents when he was 6-7 years old and the stories would last for about 3-4 hours’ total. Before he became a publicist, Manny worked on hair and make-up for months. It was there that he entered a fashion school for about two months. Manny actually had a good reputation in Mexico before entering the US, which was where he pointed out that having a good reputation is so important in the PR world. Another interesting insight he pointed out was that people can change their minds about wanting to be different for fame (if they were pushed hard enough, that is).
After discussing his background story, Manny talked about his clients he worked for. His first client was Jaime Camil, a famous Mexican actor/singer/host. Camil is mostly known for playing Rogelio de la Vega in The CW’s Jane the Virgin. Jaime Camil is one of few musicians that Manny worked with during his career. Being that Manny was a big fan of Opera, he was more than pleased to be working with Opera Super Star Arturo Chacón. Other clients he discussed working with were musicians/singers Sin Badera and NBC/Telemundo anchor José Díaz-Balart.
Manny Vera then gave a few pointers to us about doing PR for the entertainment industry. He mentioned that you HAVE to be creative in this kind of work. Creativity is a must when working with your client about what he/she will do next for their scheduled event. Another skill you must have is adapting to the fast-paced world of entertainment. A TV series/movie may be hot now, but a new one will pop up just around the corner. It is vital to adapt to change quickly to pick up the pace of the entertainment trends.
Vision, both short-term and long-term, are also a must in entertainment. You need to have a specific vision of where your client is heading and how they will get there in the years to come. Another tip that Manny mentioned was to read about anything and everything you can. Listening to one type of music won’t get you think creatively, so you have to listen to random bands that you’ve never heard of. Other than creative skills, Manny also pointed out the importance of having good manners in the industry. Simply smiling a lot and being friendly with people will get you far in your career path of public relations.
Next on the agenda was Danny Rogers discussing some chapters from Campaigns that Shook the World: The Evolution of Public Relations. Two cases that he discussed were about the Rolling Stones re-inventing themselves and re-branding David Beckham. The Rolling Stones had to re-invent themselves during the 1970s-punk rock scene (when Sex Pistols kick-started what would be the rise of punk rock). After hearing about the downfall about the Sex Pistols, the band had to take control of their work. Mick Jagger founded Rolling Stones Incorporated in order to gain control of all work from the Rolling Stones. This is one campaign from the entertainment industry that truly shook the world.
Another campaign involved re-branding David Beckham. The media attacked David Beckham after throwing away the World Cup back in 1998. What would follow was a complete turnaround for Beckham because he became a fashion icon years later. David got smart by collecting stakes of his brand (FYI, he collected 50% of stakes from his Whiskey brand Haig Club). Beckham has risen from the despair of his 1998 World Cup loss and became a fashion icon, all with the help of publicity and business tactics.
Danny Rogers pointed out that the success of a celebrity stems from their own creative ideas. Beckham’s own success came from his values that he lives by. Rogers remarked that PR professionals are hardworking, ambitious, have strong interpersonal skills, and are digital experts in their field. These stories may be different, but the theme of reputation popped up in both cases.
Overall this was a real eye-opener for me. It was great to be in a room with people sharing the same passion of entertainment. Manny and Danny did a wonderful job sharing their valuable knowledge about what its really like working in the entertainment industry. PR is a competitive field to get into, let alone entertainment PR work. It’s the career everyone dreams about and people realize that it’s not as easy as it looks. The entertainment PR path is not all glitz and glamour at the Red Carpet; it’s also about keeping track with your client’s schedule 24/7.
I don’t see myself being a publicist anytime soon, but I would love working for an agency that represents businesses within the entertainment industry. Public Relations was my favorite subject to learn about in college and I look forward to seeing what the future holds within the industry. Special thanks to Boston University for holding such an educational panel event about the entertainment industry! This event really made me reflect on what to expect when doing public relations work for the entertainment industry.