Tales from Tinseltown: Talent agencies are acquiring new blood: in-house publicists

There is no bigger challenge in PR than being a publicist for a talent agent (except, possibly, being a publicist for a publicist).

There is no bigger challenge in PR than being a publicist for a talent agent (except, possibly, being a publicist for a publicist).

There is no bigger challenge in PR than being a publicist for a

talent agent (except, possibly, being a publicist for a publicist).



It means repping a pro - somebody who himself makes a living by

generating attention for their clients. That is why ambitious Hollywood

publicists are currently scrutinizing the talent agencies, because at

least three of them - International Creative Management, Creative

Artists Agency and Endeavor - are on the lookout for some PR muscle.



The in-house pros at ICM and CAA (Andrea Marozas and Leslie Klotz,

respectively) both departed last week. Marozas moved to become SVP of

communications for Walt Disney Studios, while Klotz moved to New York to

join Polo Ralph Lauren.



While both execs were highly accomplished, their simultaneous departure

has thrown a spotlight on how the big talent agencies handle their

PR.



At the same time, several smaller agencies, including Endeavor, have

recognized that they cannot continue to manage PR on an ad-hoc basis and

are looking to hire pros.



Talent agencies don’t need publicists solely to handle day-to-day

inquiries from the media, although even that has become too important to

leave up to the agents. Instead, the agencies are having to engage in

corporate promotion. It involves dealing with new outlets - Bloomberg

and The Wall Street Journal rather than Variety or Vanity Fair. And it

means talking about different topics, such as IPOs and the Internet,

rather than which Picasso hangs on your wall.



In other words, the agencies are finally upgrading. Competition is

growing, especially from management companies. The agency business is

undergoing a lot of consolidation, and those agencies with the best and

most diverse investment portfolios will be the likeliest survivors.



While this sounds like fun for the lucky new PR pros, the downside is

that an agency can be a frustrating beast to represent. Although they

are all meant to be pitching for the same team, agents don’t make good

corporate soldiers. Just like publicists, they are only as strong as

their client lists, which makes self-promotion essential.



Most agents create their own links with the media, links that even

strong-willed publicists find hard to sever.



But given that the publicists will spend more time on strategic issues

in the future, it may not matter. What will matter is the ability to

take a limited, service-oriented business to the next level, and give it

a corporate profile.



It’s a job that demands excellent relationships, endless patience and

the nerve to make the occasional ludicrous request. It is certainly not

for the faint-hearted.



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