Lights, Camera, Control: The World of Entertainment & Sports PR

by: Christina Binz

For those wishing to pursue a career in entertainment or sports public relations, top professionals in the industries summed it up: It’s not a job; it’s a lifestyle.

During the PRSSA 2009 National Conference in San Diego, four executives shared their experiences and advice for committing to a career in entertainment and sports public relations.  Cathy Williams, communications director for KCET/PBS, served as moderator for the panel consisting of Karen Lee, media relations consultant for W&W Public Relations, Warren Miller, director of media relations for the San Diego Padres and Nicole Marostica, director of ABC Entertainment Group.

Each of these experts in their industries relayed how different and time-consuming the profession is.  From dealing with clients, media and the community, to handling crises and the ever-changing technology, a lot goes into these worlds.

“The hours don’t fit into a box,” said Marostica, who went on to explain the tasks she deals with everyday.  “Do you guys know who Isaiah Washington is? Or should I say ‘was?’” Marostica shared her story of handling the crisis after the particular ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy star called another co-star by a homophobic slur. She also described dealing with controversial scripts, hard-to-work-with actors, and the immediacy of the Internet.

Marostica recalled that news of the Washington incident appeared online three minutes after it happened.  Lee, whose company’s client roster includes Janet Jackson, Jermaine Dupri and Ludacris, also understands how the presence of the Internet affects her job and her client’s image.

“I tell my artists that if you can’t handle the blog, don’t blog,” said Lee.  “New technology is supposed to help make people understand their personalities.”

As with any type of public relations, professionals work to promote a brand.  But in entertainment and sports pr, the brand is the personality of the client.  It must be controlled and conveyed in the way that satisfies both ends of the relationship.  For Miller, knowing more about the players that he works with is an essential part of his job.

“Their interests off the field are what helps to deal with the media,” he said.  “It leads to the success of their brand.”

Miller ended the discussion with his advice as one of the most important parts of doing well in entertainment and sports pr: “Be proactive.”

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