Public relation (PR) as an industry has a reputation problem. The problem stems from stakeholders and other managers not taking PR seriously. This is due in part to a lack of understanding about what PR can do. Too often PR is treated as simple publicity and not the larger management function that it can be. Care publicity can be strategic and valuable but PR is more than publicity and is not simple publicity—doing anything to attract attention. However, the public face of PR is primarily publicity. The popular press books on PR emphasize publicity. Now Kim Kardashian, a person whose claim to fame is wanting to be famous and exposing herself to the world via reality television, produced a documentary/show about the PR industry titled SPINdustry. Interestingly the show features the celebrity “PR firm” Command PR that created Kim’s fame. Now she is trying to boost Command PR by sharing them with the world. All of this has been brought to the public thanks to E televisions. http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474978061279
The show gives us “insights” into the world of celebrity-based PR (not real PR). We learn about celebrities are book and how a “PR firm” works. Insights are provided by Command PR founder Jonathan Cheban and his top manager Simon Huck. http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474978060489
If the start of the show is any indication, PR is about verbally abusing your staff for putting mustard on your sandwich and swearing profusely for added effect. This is a formula for reality tv success, not real PR. On reality tv acting like, pardon the expression but it fits so well, a braying ass is the way to more air time and fame. If what you do is not that interesting you need to rant and rave. Give the Kardashians credit, they had interesting lives if you are into following celebrity lives. The web site for Command PR can be found at http://www.commandpr.com/. It is only a paragraph about the firm and contact information with music. The introduction and flashes, however, may induce a seizure. True to a publicity view of PR is heavy on style and short on substance.
Questions to Consider
- How do shows like SPINdustry help to hold PR back from being taken seriously?
- How do you think real PR professionals will react to the show and why?
- Is reality tv simply a corruption of publicity? Why or why not?
- Do you see any ethical concerns about this situation?
- How would you explain this show if people asked you if that was what PR was like?
- How might this show impact the future of public relations?