The Publicist:

National outlets make it harder for LA media to cover LA stories

National outlets make it harder for LA media to cover LA stories

Some 400 publicists shelled out their own cash to schmooze and learn new tricks of the trade. Held at the Television Academy, the Entertainment Publicists Professional Society event brought together PR pros, journalists, and other esteemed panelists to discuss industry trends and examine case studies of some high-profile campaigns. An entertainment-publicity seminar in North Hollywood last week disproved the notion that publicists never pay to go to anything. The opening speaker, Daily Variety publisher Charles Koones, mentioned three qualities essential for effective publicity: credibility, commitment, and creativity. (I'd add the ability to subvert your own ego and discreetly collect leftover food in your pockets.) "Providing [story] content gives a publicist credibility," Koones said. "A lack of knowledge or commitment is more apparent to journalists than you realize." Determination also goes far. "The best publicists can sometimes reposition the same story with a new angle to attract interest from a journalist who originally passed on the idea," he said." But don't be too persistent. "If I get the same pitch from someone three or four different times, I'll likely not read anything else they send," said Brad Bessey of Entertainment Tonight. An entertainment-publicity seminar in North Hollywood last week disproved the notion that publicists never pay to go to anything. Bessey and fellow "Working with the electronic media" panelists engaged in the day's most interesting discussion, much of it centering on territorial rivalries. "If we're not given first airing or first place in line at an event, we likely won't cover it," Bessey noted. Being the most-watched show, ET isn't bashful about protecting its place in the food chain. This frustrates LA's entertainment reporters, who have less clout covering their hometown industry than national outlets like ET. "I covered a charity event recently in Hollywood," shared George Pennacchio of KABC. "Because ET demanded an exclusive, I wasn't allowed inside, even though I'd been promised access. I had to raise a stink to finally get in, [and] ET didn't even use the story." Of course, as local and national TV outlets battle to get the juicy stories first, most Americans aren't even getting their celebrity news from TV. Rather, said Hollywood Reporter publisher Robert Dowling, they get it from checkout stands at Wal-Mart. Blue jeans, macaroni and cheese, and People. No wonder they call it the Super Store. Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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