So what exactly does a publicist do? It’s a question that isn’t easily answered since the responsibilities and duties vary from client to client. According to Michelle Huff, founder of Huff Events & PR, it entails more than escorting celebrities on the red carpet and writing press releases. Since 1999, Huff and her team have handled everything from media training to branding to sponsorships to event management for past and present clients such as the United Negro College Fund, BMW, Ashanti and Tamia.
Rolling out spoke with Huff about why she advises every celebrity to tell the truth when it comes to scandals, why she rejected the opportunity to represent an A-list hip-hop artist and more.
Every day we seem to hear of a new celebrity scandal. How do you handle damage control?
It depends on how critical it is to the client’s career or brand. If it’s not that critical then we let it blow over. However, if it is critical then I tell them to not say anything until we release a joint statement. In that statement I advise my clients to tell the truth. The one thing that hurts is when they try to lie, because in today’s society you can always find out the truth.
Social media has proven to be a double-edged sword for the world of public relations since it has a large free platform, but it is also used to feed scandals. How has social media impacted your agency’s method of conducting public relations?
I tell my clients to use social media responsibly, since this is their image. When something is tweeted or posted it remains in the universe forever. So our clients call us and ask us what we think of a post and we watch their accounts all the time. The good thing is that fans do get to see a personal side of a celebrity that they don’t get to see in any other way.
As a boutique agency, how do you choose which clients you will represent?
Years ago there was an A-list rapper who approached me about representing him and I declined because he didn’t get the bigger picture when it came to establishing his longevity, diversifying his business interests and developing some philanthropic goals. I really have to be passionate about a client and excited about their story and project so that I can give it 150 percent.