Tales from Tinseltown: Forget big pitch, in Hollywood it’s all about your relationships

’Are you tired of misdirected mail, aimless faxes and unwanted calls from PR?’ asked an innocuous letter that landed on my desk last week.

’Are you tired of misdirected mail, aimless faxes and unwanted calls from PR?’ asked an innocuous letter that landed on my desk last week.

’Are you tired of misdirected mail, aimless faxes and unwanted

calls from PR?’ asked an innocuous letter that landed on my desk last

week.



’Here’s your chance to respond. Tell the PR industry what you really

want - and don’t want.’



It sounded too good to be true, a chance to nip in the bud those

pointless requests and suggestions!



The letter, sent by Ian Golder, directories editor of the Infocom Group,

was accompanied by a survey gathering information for The National PR

Pitch Book. Golder has taken on the modest task of improving the

relationship between the media and PR groups. ’We caused a stir in the

press recently by calling for the end of mass mailings of press

releases,’ the letter added proudly.



Golder is right to say that mass mailings have little value to any PR

pro. After all, any announcement that can afford to take two days to get

to a journalist can’t be that important.



Nowadays, the postage stamp is used mainly for invitations to parties

and film premieres. But I fear that Golder’s attempt to reduce the

publicist/journalist relationship to an exact science won’t work - at

least not in the entertainment field.



According to Golder’s letter, ’PR people use The National PR Pitch Book

as the source for reporters’ and editors’ unique needs - which makes the

information (the journalist) receives more valuable, more targeted and

more complete.’



It sounds fine in theory, and a virgin publicist moving into

entertainment might want to check it out. But anybody who has been

working in Hollywood for any length of time will know that publicists

rarely ’pitch’ anything to journalists.



The relationship between the two is far more sophisticated and less

clearly delineated than that. Here’s how it works: publicists spend time

getting to know journalists and judge how susceptible they are to

pressure - which the publicist will inevitably need to apply at some

point.



Journalists, meanwhile, ingratiate themselves with publicists, build up

some credit and then call in favors when necessary. It’s a trade-off

that enables journalists to break the occasional major story and studios

to put its spin on any embarrassments - or, preferably, keep them out of

the press altogether.



For PR vets, The National PR Pitch Book can’t possibly contain any

surprises.



And at the risk of unleashing a torrent of cold-calls, I’m not sure that

a publicist should be finding out what I ’want’ from a media

directory.



I’m not sure I can spell it out myself. After all, there could be

something sensational hidden in those ’aimless faxes and unwanted

calls.’ You never know.



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