THE PUBLICIST: Hollywood PR pros get to be stars of the show for a night

March is here, which means the countdown to the big awards show has begun. Odds are being made. Office pools are circulating. Hollywood is getting gussied up. There's only one event like it in the world. I'm talking, of course, about the greatest showbiz spectacular of all. Yeah, that's right, the Publicists Guild Awards.

March is here, which means the countdown to the big awards show has begun. Odds are being made. Office pools are circulating. Hollywood is getting gussied up. There's only one event like it in the world. I'm talking, of course, about the greatest showbiz spectacular of all. Yeah, that's right, the Publicists Guild Awards.

Sure, Oscar may get the 17-billion worldwide TV audience, but the publicists' awards are the real deal. They've been going on for some 40 years, but unless something's on TV, it doesn't really exist for most folks. You and I know better. Henri Bollinger, one of the deans of the profession and the leading figure behind the awards, tells me that, in addition to raising awareness of the entertainment publicity field, "the awards have also served to raise the morale of publicists who never before received just recognition for their work." My morale has always been raised by the free lunch on set, but yes, recognition is scarce when you work behind the scenes. Unit publicists may get end-screen credits, but nobody stays to see them. I know, because I always stick around, and usually have the theater to myself. Here are the five categories, two of which honor journalists: The Motion Picture and Television Showmanship Awards honor individuals who have exhibited a special flair for showmanship in the production and presentation of TV shows. The Lifetime Award recognizes a body of works and deeds. The Press Award and International Media Awards honor journalists whose work positively impacts publicists and the entertainment industry. The Les Mason is given to a publicist whose work reflects the highest professional standards and who is deemed worthy of receiving the highest honor the union can give one of its members. The Bob Yeager recognizes significant involvement with social causes. (FYI: dating doesn't constitute a social cause. I tried.) The importance and profile of entertainment publicity has grown substantially in the last five years. Indeed, as Bollinger notes, "One can point to many examples where the [PR] campaign made the difference between failure and success for a project. It's also interesting to note that studios, networks, and production companies are now including PR/promotion execs among the top corporate management team." Still, despite these awards, publicists will never be in it for their own glory. We're in it for the glory of others. Fair enough. We still get to sit backstage.
  • Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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