They say the Internet was the death of the mega superstar and without being facetious I believe there is truth to that. If the internet wounded the superstar, then social media undoubtedly snuffed out the very definition, and now we are an industry filled with popular people for very little reason outside of visual stimulation. With everything moving to a less substantial place, its no wonder there are a new breed of publicists that directly correlate with the new breed of celebrity. I can admit to being old-fashioned on both counts. I have heard from newbie publicists that I have an old-fashioned approach to PR and I would agree. I also look to work with clients that come from the old school of actually having something substantial to push and having the type of image that results in commercial success, not just regional or cultural success. I’m not ok with clients that just want to do their own thing on social media or don’t believe in media training. It has always been my goal as a publicist to get to the client that had that magical Q score so we could in the words of Cuba Gooding Jr. in the cult classic Jerry Maguire film —- get to the money!
In case you and your favorite reality star’s favorite publicist doesn’t know what a Q score is, it’s the recognized industry standard for measuring the consumer appeal of personalities, characters, licensed properties, programs and brands. A Q score determines the level of likability your client has and forecasts how they would impact a brand if brought on board as a spokesperson, ambassador, etc. If a brand is looking to spend major dollars, this is a great indicator of what impact your client would have on overall brand appeal. In other words, a celebrity’s Q score is like the lay person’s credit rating. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have more money but it does mean you have more opportunities. It’s the ultimate stamp of approval.
By definition a conscientious publicist should only direct their client to engage in a way that would support moving their Q score up the ratings ladder. Anything else would be going against protocol, which results in going away from the check, which is a strategy I am unfamiliar with. There are so many misconceptions and confusing messages when it comes to the characteristics of a “reputable publicist,” but one I have never argued with is the fact that publicists can be conniving and at times misleading. Like an attorney that may know their client is guilty but has the responsibility to find loopholes to keep said client from receiving a guilty verdict; a publicist has the responsibility to do or say whatever is necessary to keep their client’s public image as clean as possible.
Last week, I was speaking with a new potential client who shared with me a former publicist had offered to teach her how to physically fight in order to land a spot on an ongoing reality show. While I admire that “publicist’s” loyalty to their client and their ability to be “all in,” obviously they aren’t familiar with the professional responsibilities they assume when taking on the role of publicist. A publicist’s job is to generate and manage publicity for a public figure, especially a celebrity, a business, or for a work such as a book, film or album. Publicity is equivalent to exposure, which is equivalent to opportunities and opportunities are equivalent to money, and if you are lucky enough to get enough opportunities, one can even make it to wealth.
Fighting on reality TV will provide an opportunity for short-term exposure, and maybe a few segmented opportunities to flip a little money, but if you’re looking to make a real career out of publicity, your energy would be better served in making sure your client’s overall image is protected so that their long-term opportunities translate to long-term money. As for me there’s little I wouldn’t do to ensure that my client’s Q score is moving up a rung every time there is the possibility of spinning a story or silencing a reporter or blogger, because the higher the score, the closer we get to the real money!