BEHIND THE HEADLINES: Pop star wannabes find themselves Inner Spin

The fact that The Sun wishes to be the official paper of the pop

group informed sources deny is to be named Inner Spin is some

achievement for Popstars. Now the tabloid has jumped on the, er,

bandwagon, Popstars can only be seen as a staggering success.



Staff at the two media firms involved in PR for Popstars - Ian Johnson

of LWT's press office and Selina Webb at Polydor - are in a handover

period as the five-strong outfit get set for their first single.



'It has been chaotic,' admits Webb, Polydor director of press. 'The

level of interest is unprecedented.' She has appointed her deputy,

Sundraj Sreenivasan - who also handles Eminem and Gabrielle - to act as

the band's press officer.



His first task was to co-ordinate the Heathrow news conference on

Monday, when the group first faced the media.



The greatest Popstars PR coup to date has been to convince the press not

to follow up on the Sunday People revealing the band line-up two weeks

before it was announced on TV.



In fact, the Mail on Sunday and others had an accurate tip-off before

Christmas, but not one printed it.



'The key was to ensure the press could not get ahead of what the viewers

were watching,' Johnson says.



The Sunday People's spoiler ended up a damp squib and was ignored by the

rest of the press who seemed content to go with the PR team's

wishes.



This is because they preferred the prospect of a steady stream of good

copy to killing this golden - news-generating - goose, says Johnson. He

believes the newspapers have learnt from earlier soap scoops that

readers don't like having things ruined for them.



The show took some time to take off, partly due to a deliberate strategy

of starting with the broadsheets to justify it to opinion-formers and

hope for a cascade effect. The Guardian was the first to cover Popstars

in detail, followed by The Financial Times.



The results were such that when James Herring, managing director of LWT

agency Avalon PR, organised a webcast of a panel discussion on

'genetically modified pop' to fill an expected lull in coverage, it was

drowned out in the media cacophony.



The symbolic result of this drip feeding into popular consciousness - a

joint effort by three departments together with an integrated ad

campaign - was the presence of even US network TV reporters at the

Heathrow press call. Inner Spin indeed.



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