Regional roundtable: Los Angeles [continued]

JH [PRWeek]: Let's get into what makes LA unique. When we talk to people in the large agencies and large corporations typically outside of LA I hear Los Angeles is weird. And I like to figure out a little more why that perception exists. What is unique about LA and public relations? Is it where the business is coming from?

AC [PRWeek]: Maybe I'll start off the conversation and say that the thing about these meetings is that few of you see yourselves as being in the same industry, and many of you at this table never cross paths. And I think that is one of the things that makes LA so unique. Chris, I think you would probably never really deal with agency people?

CP [William Morris Agency]: I don't belong at this table.

JW [Ogilvy PR]: Chris is an Ogilvy client.

AC [PRWeek]: But you are part of this industry. But I think that's one of the things that makes LA so unique is that the PR industry is so fragmented here.

GB [Edelman]: I think to that point one of the things that really defines LA is that for a city this size we have very few corporate headquarters. So there is just a handful, there are the car companies and companies like Amgen, and a few biotech companies, but there is really not the plentiful sources of corporate work here. And I think interestingly enough, Edelman, and you covered it, puts forth a corporate trust survey every year and they had this huge breakfast, panel discussion in New York and it was wonderful and we got lots of coverage for it. And in two months we're going to put forth the same thing here in LA, and I was thinking as I was planning this thing, I was thinking about the businesses that are in LA and I was thinking how different its going to be here because when people talk about a corporate agenda its very different here because everybody does have a different agenda depending on the industry they are coming from, so that's one thing that really defines us.

CP [William Morris Agency]: Someone I know from New York who just moved here was telling me last night, he said the thing in New York, its more hierarchical, you know, who to call. And here it is much more relationship based. I know it's a clich?, especially a stereotype about the entertainment industry, but it just feels like there is not vertical, its all a horizontal social structure. Especially the industry we are in, it is almost 100 percent relationships.

JH [PRWeek]: And hard to break into?

PP [independent entertainment publicist]: In the entertainment industry, if you have talent you can break in. No matter if you are in public relations, media relations, whatever it is. Its such a younger person driven environment.

CP [William Morris Agency]: If you're over forty forget it.

PP [independent entertainment publicist]: Age aside, if you are there and you have the ideas, you know, its very much a situation where you get one shot to prove yourself and if you don't.... and I'm not saying that doesn't apply to everyone at the table, but...

CP [William Morris Agency]: It's a short shelf life.

PP [independent entertainment publicist]: We find that if you're not delivering on the first time, there is no second chance and you have to have some luck to get your career going sometimes.

SS [Nissan]: I think the entertainment industry usurps the whole town. I'm a stranger in this town and its bizarre. LA is under a microscope around the world. You just look at the LA Times; they have eight reporters covering the entertainment industry. They have one guy doing autos. It's a huge industry and it's a company town, but if you're in another industry then you're really fighting against it all the time.

JB [Singapore Airlines]: On that concept of the company town, it is really, really frustrating to us. Even if you look at the numbers, for aviation, there are something like 255,000 direct jobs that come from tourism in Los Angeles, as opposed to down by about 30,000 jobs for the entire entertainment industry. The airport alone, LAX alone, 57 million passengers use that airport. On the cargo side, more than sixty billion dollars in trade every year. So in many ways, by many measures, it's a bigger industry. It employees more people. It has a bigger effect on the country's economy, but even looking around the table if you were to slice apart everyone's jobs, and figure out how many people have an entertainment component to their job, it would be a much higher number than the folks involved in tourism. So the numbers are there. But the recognition of tourism or travel as a key driver of the region's economy just isn't there, which can be a little bit frustrating.

JS [Fleishman-Hillard]: One of my clients is the port of Los Angeles and its actually true; the value of foreign trade in this region is amazing. And the companies that are here are either too small or too foreign in terms of their corporate locations, and they basically use us as a market to do what they can and move on. I think there is going to be change. You saw in the Wall Street Journal yesterday there was an article on how ports around the country are getting more pressure from local communities and the environmental community to change their business. I mean, clearly the ordeal that LAX has been going through in order to expand, remodel, become secure is another illustration of that. If that global trade business is so valuable to this region, if we can't start putting a face behind that industry and start creating a constituency that supports it, they may see some of the things they've taken for granted for decades no longer being around. I don't think that anyone at this point knows with LAX's master plan, what will happen to it. Maybe it will go through. I hope it goes through, because its necessary, but they've been working on it for decades and its seems perpetually undecided. And I think that's illustrative of a lot of economic development in LA We've had absentee corporate presence in this region that deals with a very large compilation of the market base and adds a lot of value to the community. I think what makes New York such a different market is that there are so many people headquartered there that are really speaking to the whole country when they hire a PR firm. The reverse is true here. We have the ears and eyes, but we don't have the people.

PP [independent entertainment publicist]: I think you have to look at it geographically, that LA is, there is a strange phenomenon that goes on that within 15 miles, that's LA And its not that kind of a city. You know, there are two hundred miles to the south. I grew up in the San Fernando Valley and to me when I still venture south to towards Orange Country and other regions, I realize that there is a whole other world, and I don't mean that to belittle any of that. But the idea is that I can't take entertainment down there, the infrastructure isn't there to build it. But I don't know if I agree with some of you. I don't practice some of the things that most of you all do, but it would seem to me that you can't say this is LA It really is this sprawling thing. In Manhattan it was so much easier, I used to work there, you knew you had your fourteen...Long Island it wasn't even important at that time, it was just the island of Manhattan.

SF [Ketchum]: Just look at the distance some of us had to travel to get to this meeting today. This would not be happening in New York.

GB [Edelman]: One interesting phenomenon that I think some agencies here have experienced, that I know we have experienced, as being one office in a global agency is that we find that a lot of our clients come from outside Los Angeles, that they are really interested in tapping into the resources and expertise and having a Los Angeles presence. That is very important to them for whatever reason. We've represented X-Box on behalf of Microsoft for four years now and while we share the account with our Seattle office, it was very important to Microsoft that they really liked the notion of having their agency in Los Angeles. So while there is something, while sometimes it can be a little difficult that there is not that large corporate presence here, sometimes it really works to our advantage that claim Los Angeles as our home.

AC [PRWeek]: And I also think that that for corporate America Los Angeles is sexy and creative, and they look to this market for that.

CP [William Morris Agency]: It is ground zero for popular culture.

SS [Nissan]: Worldwide.

CP [William Morris Agency]: I was just writing down - Sony, GE, Viacom, News Corp, Time Warner, all own studios now. So I think this may be changing a little bit as we consolidate, and the movie business particularly as we become more of a smaller section of these bigger companies. And I wonder if it's going to feel myopic ten years from now, and it might. I'm actually surprised at the scrutiny and the level of it sometimes. Especially since I was just jotting it down and I think only two companies are based in LA, or this region.

JD [GCI Group]: There are so many different areas where people look to the LA market for what is cool, and connections into different part of that industry (entertainment).

JH [PRWeek]: What about the youth culture? How much does that bring business to your companies?

JD [GCI Group]: There are so many kinds of things that the Gen Y crowd is into and money within the Gen Y crowd, it creates an incredible opportunity for LA

ST [Tellem Worldwide]: I'd like to add from our perspective. We, as many of you know, were very healthcare oriented. And our healthcare business has sort of reversed itself and we are way heavy on entertainment all of the sudden. And much of it geared towards youth. We have Nickelodeon and a big toy company and Scooby Doo and Blues Clues and Dora the Explorer are all invading our office, and I think it's really interesting to see. Of course that is driven by a younger person in our office, but all of our, probably 50 to 75 percent of our business is out of Los Angeles, in New York, Ohio and some other places. So it's changed, it's really changed just in the last five years.

SS [Nissan]: I think from the client side if you are out and you want to connect with the youth or click with a group, there are an awful lot of people in LA who promise you a ticket to the stars. I think the car business had to learn that very fast. I think it discovered LA, product placement, youth marketing and the whole car - SUV bling bling thing came up and I think we all in Detroit walked in here with our wallets open kind of desperate to connect to the hip crowd, and I think a lot of companies got taken for a real ride, literally and figuratively, so I think you have to be really, really careful. Having good agency partners to steer you through the treacherous waters is pretty important.

JH [PRWeek]: What about the demographic mix here? What is being born in LA and finding its way to the rest of the country?

DN [Nakatomi & Associates]: I think ethnic PR and ethnic marketing. You mentioned earlier tuner cultures. I think it's really interesting how ethnic Los Angeles has helped to define a lot of these new images. The tuner culture, I don't know if all of you know, came from the rice rocket culture, which is Asian-based. And its one of those few things that Asian kids can kind of point to with some pride and say we had an impact on national culture but its gone main now. Certainly Latino culture has been a leader, being born out of Southern California and spreading out to the rest of the country and beyond.

DA [LeeAndrews Group]: I believe that hip-hop culture permeates everything. I mean, look at Dr. Scholl's doing 'are you chillin.' But you are right; the ethnic marketing part of it is very interesting. The other thing about LA, and I've been listening to some of the comments, everyone is a spokesperson. There is not a hierarchy. Your person on the street can be the spokesperson for a major issue that they know nothing about and you have a gravitation towards this idiocy of opinion, and your company and client may get caught up in dealing with someone who has no knowledge base of what they are talking about but the media will really gravitate towards that person because they say something that is really catchy. So LA is really interesting because there is not any kind of hierarchy of what I can say is authority of opinion. Everybody gets to talk and you don't have a lot of people who try to go for substance and its all geared towards what is the most entertaining and unfortunately the entertainment industry its kind of like the lowest common denominator. So then its like what's the worst thing you can talk about as opposed to the positive? And so it's a challenge because you're trying to get ahead on a negative story, and you start asking when did it start snowballing, where did this come from?

SF [Ketchum]: I actually think that everyone being a spokesperson is a national trend, it's not just an LA thing. You don't call a company anymore; you call your consumer reporter. That's a national trend.

PP [independent entertainment publicist]: But the other thing, though, that's even a bigger discussion, is about the proliferation of media outlets and..that's where if we're going to talk about defending an issue, it can come at you from anywhere. And an internet campaign, you know, 5,000 people at a push of the button, that's all you need and then you're fighting whatever issue and its almost a blind adversary.

AC [PRWeek]: I'm curious what you all think of LA media because it is very different than many other markets in that it is infested with the need for entertainment.

MK [Amgen]: As a newcomer to this area, I have a pretty strong opinion about that and for LA being the heart of the entertainment industry with every available technology, I am just mortified by the poor quality of our media coverage down here. And its just what you are all saying, its all about entertainment. The car chase on the freeway, the person who is selling body parts, there is just no quality of spokespeople. There is no embracing important issues. So if you turn on the 10 o'clock news, you don't learn anything from the 10 o'clock news.

DA [LeeAndrews Group]: You can get usurped by a dog being trapped in a car. Literally.

PP [independent entertainment publicist]: But I feel that is nation wide.

SF [Ketchum]: I agree.

AC [PRWeek]: But what I find interesting in the LA media market is that broadcast is not reporting anything, they are just repeating what is in print. So you have such a limited opportunity to get out in front of a story. Is that true?

JS [Fleishman-Hillard]: It seems like the broadcasters are reading the LA Times, and nobody else. What's really difficult about LA is that people are not newspaper readers unless they are part of a community that cares about a specific section of the newspaper. In the public affairs world obviously everybody I know all over the county and the state reads every word of the California section when it shows up online at midnight, but that is a small community and pretty much they are talking to each other.

PP [independent entertainment publicist]: It's cultural because I keep saying I lived in New York, but that's a city where you have time to read the newspaper, on the subway or while you're commuting.

SF [Ketchum]: Although some people do read the paper.

PP [independent entertainment publicist]: But beyond that you have a cultural phenomenon in New York where a person can go into a restaurant by themselves and they can have a meal and nobody looks at them like what's wrong with you, and they can read the paper and do what they want. But in Los Angeles that's not part of the social norms to do. And you're laughing because you know I'm right.

ST [Tellem Worldwide]: Some of you may know that I've been working with the D.A. in the Michael Jackson case and I was asked to do a panel on the ethics of reporting and media and it was very broad with a lot of reporters there and they were all very officious, 'oh I research my stories,' and it was all about celebrities at the time and I was laughing internally because these guys take one AP story and the run with it. AP is the only media that really gets researched and reported. Because when we had 200 reporters calling us, AP was the only one that said 'well I really need a source. I can't just say I called you and you say I can't divulge that information.' They said 'I need you to say I can't divulge that information and quote you.' And so when I heard all these reporters at this panel saying 'oh yeah we researched the story and we're very ethical, we report on the celebrities this way,' it made me laugh because you know they don't. It's because their either understaffed, or lazy, or dishonest, or whatever the reasons.

DA [LeeAndrews Group]: You're never going to have a reporter take your call again.

ST [Tellem Worldwide]: But it's really a shame what is going on in reporting. I think they are just really busy, but it doesn't give you any excuse for reporting what AP said or what the LA Times said in your story. So I think that is a very typical problem in LA

DA [LeeAndrews Group]: We have taken information that we generated in one news medium and given it to another, to make it convenient so they won't take the time to call people. You don't have to worry about anything; we'll take care of it for you. And one just piggybacks off the other. It's like a modern day plagiarism. And they don't do their own research, because AP is a credible source and they are going to do it so you don't have to.

CP [William Morris Agency]: It is shocking how much one reporter will be willing to use another story that ran someplace as their entire source and not check it out. GB [Edelman]: I think so much of it is just indicative of what is going on in the industry of news today. I started out as a reporter and I have a lot of friends who are still in the business. I left because of a lot of the things you said. I got tired of covering car accidents and murders and those types of things, and it wasn't why I went into reporting. But one of the things a lot of my friends tell me now is that the business is just changed even tenfold from back then. Its just they are really short staffed. They have gotten rid of a lot of people. It's a business of economics, and if they are not making the money and not selling the papers and people aren't watching the news, its automatic they have to cut staff. And so what's happened as a result is they are taking more b-rolls, they don't have enough time to research. And interestingly enough from a public relations perspective, in some cases it actually makes our job easier. Because in some cases it's like 'here, take this,' and they say 'ok.' But on the other hand, it makes it much more challenging too. Because I've gotten into an agreement with a reporter because I was just incredulous how he could just do this story without any knowledge and basically libel my client. And yes they printed a retraction the next day, but you know. But it's really mind-boggling. And I think as a former journalist myself, heartbreaking because the whole industry has really changed.

JS [Fleishman-Hillard]: Well, look what it took to get all of the news stations all over the state to decide that the capital of the largest state in the United States with a gigantic budget was worthy of having full-time coverage. We elected a movie star. If it has been Cruz Bustamante or somebody else, or Gray Davis, you think all those bureaus would be open? So in a way thank God for Arnold Schwartzenegger to make politics cool for a while.

AC [PRWeek]: But to go back, there isn't one newspaper in LA, there are at least three because of the trades (Variety and Hollywood Reporter) How do you really feel about the trades?

CP [William Morris Agency]: I've got to plead the fifth. I'm also a former reporter. I'm going to leave right now.

PP [independent entertainment publicist]: The interesting thing about the marketplace is that the different outlets have started to define themselves. And you say that there are three papers, but they all have different interests almost even though they are all covering the same thing, which is interesting. And it helps people decide how to distribute their news, if they are going to go with an exclusive or something of that nature.

 AC [PRWeek]: The trades you think have different personalities?

PP [independent entertainment publicist]: The trades as well as The LA Times and the Wall Street Journal, which is out here. And the New York Times is making and aggressive push out here, with daily coverage of the comings and goings of the industry.

CP [William Morris Agency]: That's actually a luxury we have, that unlike biotech or something, we actually have more than one outlet.

PP [independent entertainment publicist]: And then every offshoot of entertainment has their own trade publications. That's standard obviously. The auto industry has the same. But they are competing for the same stories. And then you have international outlets, which now and days you can start your campaign overseas and have it come back to you in Los Angeles or New York and that's become a very interesting strategy and has been very successful in a lot of ways when we talk about getting the story of record out there and then using it to repurpose it back here. Those things happen regularly now.

CP [William Morris Agency]: I feel like I have to defend some journalism at least, not being that far removed. I am stunned some of the questions I get from people looking for stories from mainstream magazines, weekly national publications, it's unbelievable. Maybe I'm naive or maybe its something that has changed in the past couple of years. But the type of stories, its almost Ben Affleck twenty-four seven. But I am just stunned that you can even ask those questions. It must kill them as reporters. US Weekly-esque stories from something that is a Time or Newsweek style publication. Now I'm not going to get any calls returned. As much as I want to defend, and there are fantastic journalists who take their job very seriously, but unfortunately with the proliferation of tabloids and everything else, they get a bad rap, but there really is this lowest common denominator going on.

DA [LeeAndrews Group]: You're going to Ben Affleck and asking him what do you think of the fact that Bush and Cheney are not willing to testify for more than an hour?

JH [PRWeek]: What about the non-mainstream media in Los Angeles? DN [Nakatomi & Associates]: I think ethnic media has had a major major impact on our work, certainly. Can't do a major story without including ethnic media, whether it's Asian media, Latino media. Some of the top-notch quality journalism, some of the major stories have been broken by ethnic reporters. The McDonald's story with the beef sprayed on the French fries, that was an Indian reporter for a South Asian publication. A reporter who really did her homework and worked diligently for months on that story. That was a story that was born out of an Asian publication. So I think what we're seeing is that many mainstream efforts have now gotten very ethnic simply because of what we have in Los Angeles and in California. Over fifty percent of the population really listens to, watches ethnic media, and many of us around this table are involved in trying to figure out how to reach that emerging market. Its really not emerging anymore, it's really arrived.

JS [Fleishman-Hillard]: One of the most interesting things that happened to me last year was with a client that had a story to tell, a public affairs story. It was really about a service. We set up a news event and invited the mayor and the mayor attended. The entire turnout we got was Hispanic media and it was exactly what we wanted. And we built the whole thing around doing it that way. And that is something that happens in other ethnic media, or African American media, or suburban newspapers. You know we do a lot of work in Pasadena for example. The Pasadena Star News might as well be in Oklahoma for the different kind of converge you get. So having a very targeted approach, often what you find is especially among the ethnic media, a much higher commitment in that media to public service, to telling people things that are helpful for the community to know about, whereas the mainstream, LA Times or whatever, they purely look at it as what is going to appeal to our readers rather than what is going to help our community.

RD [Durazo Communications]: The bad news is that ethnic media is being influenced by mainstream media. There is now the equivalent of the Jerry Springer show in Spanish. Same kind of weird characters, you know, couples beating each other up and wacky wacky stuff that you never saw on Spanish TV before and there it is mimicking what is going on in mainstream media. That I think will be a continuing trend simply because broadcasters whether they are broadcasting in Spanish or English have figured out what the public interested in consuming, and the same crowd who is interested in watching the weirdoes on Jerry Springer will watch them on this program in Spanish.

JH [PRWeek]: Anything else on the media side?

ST [Tellem Worldwide]: I have an interesting thing that is happening recently, well not recently, but that is it used to be when you got a non-profit event if the subject was good or if society people were coming or if there is something compelling about the story you are telling you would get some media to come, especially if you appeal to public service directors. Now the first question you get asked is which celebrities are attached? And so if you don't have Ray Romano, even Arnold Schwartzenegger, if you don't have Jamie Lee Curtis, by the way - Marlee Matlin, no good anymore, they won't even take her. If you say 'well I have Marlee Matlin, you know.' So I think it's really entertainment driven now. Its worse than it ever was and so if you don't have at least one A-list and a couple B-list you're not going to get media to come to an event. And I think that really does show what effect entertainment has. JW [Ogilvy PR]: I think it depends on the type of media you want to have. We did several events for a video game manufacturer and its scary who celebrities are now. Suddenly the stars of WB shows. I mean, David Gallagher showed up and you thought it was Mel Gibson. Does everyone know David Gallagher?

PP [independent entertainment publicist]: The beauty of a city like New York is that they have more opportunities for coverage of events and things. You have everything from the columns; you have three newspapers each running a daily column. You've got the New York Times in their public life section, to other places; they have a New York one channel. It's different here. It an interesting dynamic in that we are the capital that is doing events and we have a lot of celebrity, yet we don't have as many outlets.

 AC [PRWeek]: On the public affairs side, are the state's budget problems impacting clients or work?

RD [Durazo Communications]: Well, public affairs has to be broken out into several categories. There is the kind of public affairs practiced by the private sector that is advocating on behalf of an industry or company or so forth. There is the kind of public affairs called social marketing where in a health agency for instance is trying to get people to stop smoking or practice safe sex, that is another form of public affairs. And then there is just pure political public affairs, where it has to do with public policy and the airport and the master plan and that stuff, and that is a world unto itself. So public affairs is this broad category of business and my sense is that it is alive and well and the people who do it well and who can function in that milieu are doing well. I don't see any decreasing of that business.

JS [Fleishman-Hillard]: It case by case, because what you end up finding out is that it goes back to the budget question. If the budget for a given program is based on general fund dollars its probably going to be stressed out by the budget crisis in the short run. If on the other hand its part of a special fund that a specialized tax like the tobacco tax picks up, or it's a round of mandated activities that the state has to do some public education around, or if the state has just declared something a priority, they are like anyone else. If they see a return on investment and a real need, they are going to go out and look for it and if they don't they won't. DN [Nakatomi & Associates]: I think, to respond to your question, that the days of the sixty million dollar social marketing campaign are gone at least for the present time. And there was a time when some of the larger health foundations were picking those up and deciding they wanted to fund those initiatives at maybe thirty million. And now they have backed away from them. But I am seeing that non-profits are looking at creative ways to do issues-focused communications. Their budgets aren't as large certainly, but they are really interested in getting information out, so how to get their messages out whether they be health foundations like The Endowment, non-profits are being pretty resilient. They are looking at how to position themselves, transform themselves, how to go after money in more creative ways, so they're actually funding PR campaigns. I think there are some alternatives that are starting to pop up but it's not the big social marketing campaigns that some of us were able to build our businesses on in the early days.

JH [PRWeek]: What impact do you think the economic situation has on the image and reputation of the state, especially on the corporate side; do you want to be here right now? Or is the state going to attract new business opportunities?

JB [Singapore Airlines]: This isn't entirely on your point, but I think it's related. For us it's more of a national image problem that we had related to all the security changes that we had post-9/11. All of the visa requirements for example that have been put in place on countries around the world, where now you have to apply for a visa that may take between two and three months, and you may be denied at any point without a reason. So we have many Chinese tour operators that will now no longer sell vacation packages in California. It's just too much of a hassle, so that's really had an impact on our business.

DA [LeeAndrews Group]: I feel a bit more optimistic. I think with Arnold Schwartzenegger you have someone who kind of has that star power who is saying my priority is to bring more business into California. I mean, there is a sense of optimism. I know on the public affairs side, people are really sitting on the budgets to wait and see what happens and now they are gradually trying to get a sense of tying to see if they can release some funds. So I just have to say, there is a sense of optimism that the state of California will grow and how are we going to recover.

RD [Durazo Communications]: What keeps business out of California I don't think is as much its image as simple economics. You can set up a business in Nevada or Arizona and purchase land at a fraction of the cost that it would cost you to buy land here. You can hire people at lower wages. You don't have the regulatory burdens, the environmental burdens that you have here. But I don't think anybody says, 'gee I don't think I'm going to locate in California because I don't like the image there.' Its much more mundane considerations.

SF [Ketchum]: The reality is that no matter what business you are in; in most cases you cannot succeed without being successful in California. And another thing to remember is that Southern California is not the economy that we were in the early nineties, where talking about a company town, it was aerospace and defense. And certainly entertainment, but aerospace and defense were huge. And that was what caused the downturn here. We are so much more diversified, which I think is what mystifies so many people outside of California, about this marketplace, because we are so many things to so many different groups and businesses. But without California no one can succeed.

ST [Tellem Worldwide]: And one of the things that really weighs us down are things like workers comp, AB2, which is the insurance bill that is coming down the pike and there is one called sue your employer law, so there are constant barrages of really painful, punitive restrictions and legislation that we seem to keep, but at some point you see big companies moving out and that is one of the reasons. One of the things that Schwartzenegger said that he is really working towards is workers comp. If we fix the business community, or the business punishment in California, I think it will change the whole demeanor of the state. But I think right now that is what's driving companies out because they can't afford it anymore.

AC [PRWeek]: With the changes in campaigning and the timeline for the Oscars did you notice any difference?

PP [independent entertainment publicist]: The day after (the Oscars) I always wish my colleagues Happy New Year. I think next year we will really see the difference. It was much faster paced and you hit a wall at a different place. Next year we'll see how it affects us.

CP [William Morris Agency]: We had the screening controversy this year, so next year hopefully it will be ironed out before. The one business thing I saw that came out of it is they found a way to use the shortened campaign season to create a launch pad for DVD. So they found a way to make lemonade out of what was going to be a bunch of lemons. Eventually I think a lot of people are going to jump on board that, since DVDs are so important now.

PP [independent entertainment publicist]: You definitely see movies coming out earlier in the year and things like that. Take this for what it is worth but the one thing I have noticed is for those of you who practice in the area of corporate clients liasoning into the entertainment industry, with celebrities at events and things, its that the events themselves are starting to pull back a little because they are becoming so overloaded with celebrity and corporate involvement and sponsorship. They are all starting to look alike and consumers, especially on TV, they are just flipping around and they don't know from one to the other. It's really interesting to see that these events that wanted this money and this prestige are now saying wait a minute, it's starting to discredit us. Which I think is an interesting challenge as we continue selling Hollywood to corporate America.

PARTICIPANTS Jake Drake President, California, GCI Group

Paul Pflug Independent entertainment publicist

Ray Durazo Principal,Durazo Communications

Marie Kennedy Corporate comms VP,Amgen

Susan Tellem President,Tellem Worldwide

Gail Becker President, Western region and LA GM, Edelman

Debra Nakatomi Principal,Nakatomi & Associates

James Boyd Director of PR,North America,Singapore Airlines

James Williams Los Angeles GM and EVP, Ogilvy PR

Sean Fitzgerald LA GM,managing partner, and director, Ketchum

Donna Andrews President,LeeAndrews Group

Simon Sproule VP,global comms and IR,Nissan

John Stodder SVP and partner,Fleishman-Hillard LA

Chris Petrikin Corporate comms SVP,William Morris Agency

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