Imagine a group of plumbers at a Vegas convention, sitting around their hotel room after losing their shirts at the crap tables, when suddenly the toilet begins leaking. ’What should we do?’ they cry. ’Call a plumber,’ one suggests.
Imagine a group of plumbers at a Vegas convention, sitting around
their hotel room after losing their shirts at the crap tables, when
suddenly the toilet begins leaking. ’What should we do?’ they cry. ’Call
a plumber,’ one suggests.
That scenario occurred to me when I read that the Public Relations
Society of America has gone and hired a ... publicist.
Wait a minute: aren’t we all publicists? I say ’we,’ but I’m not
actually a PRSA member, subscribing to the Groucho Marx adage that I
would never join any organization that would admit me as a member
Although I don’t know if they would.
Why do publicists need a publicist? Shouldn’t the organization’s members
already be promoting their agenda? How will this new publicist go about
I should be careful using the word ’publicist.’ Many in the public
relations business sneer at it, believing it minimizes the scope of what
a public relations practitioner does.
There’s some truth to that. My fellow Publicists Guild members and I are
concerned about attracting attention to our entertainment projects and
clients. We’re not normally involved in other aspects of PR, though we
are called into crisis management when a celebrity is found with an
underage youth in a compromising situation. Like at a Republican
Because the Publicists Guild and the PRSA have different agendas (for
one thing, I don’t think we have a publicist, though I’ll have to
check), I wondered if anyone in the Guild was also a member of PRSA. I
called seven of my colleagues, including a woman I hadn’t spoken to in
She, as it turns out, was the only one of the seven who belonged to both
She confessed to not being an active member, but felt it ’added status’
to her resume. Always in search of extra status myself, I inquired as to
whether I should join PRSA, and expressed curiosity about the dues.
’More than you can probably afford,’ she snidely responded, jarringly
reminding me why I hadn’t spoken to her in a long time.
One thing the PRSA’s new spokesman should do is stress the importance of
members performing pro bono work. It seems that other professions, such
as medical and legal ones, have done more in that area - and
subsequently received good press for it. I recall asking my department
head at a ’major Westside PR firm’ if I could bring in a pro bono
children’s advocacy client.
She looked at me as if I’d requested a raise and shorter workweek; I
hadn’t been aware that the human face could contort in such a
So, c’mon, PRSA. Promote an agenda of helping others, even if they
provide no billable hours. That’s something worthy of media attention.
It would also make me relieved to not be a member, as I won’t have to do
Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and