AVN eyes mainstream exposure for its awards

Los Angeles: In its 24th year, the Adult Video News (AVN) Awards Show is making a concerted play for more recognition through getting a bigger venue, pursuing wider outreach, and even attracting a few household names.

Los Angeles: In its 24th year, the Adult Video News (AVN) Awards Show is making a concerted play for more recognition through getting a bigger venue, pursuing wider outreach, and even attracting a few household names.

PR representatives for the awards show, which will be held on Saturday, January 13 (and aired later on Playboy TV), have made mainstream media outreach a major priority.

"Overall, the business has evolved," said Sue Procko, whose eponymous Los Angeles-based agency handles outreach for the show in tandem with in-house teams from AVN, Las Vegas awards venue Mandalay Bay, which is hosting this year's event, and several independent publicists. "The industry has changed, and we're educating the public as to how the big business [has become], how much tech comes through the business, and the fact that the business overall has gone mainstream."

Procko - who also works with non-adult entertainment clients - said she started seeing mainstream interest around the AVN Awards last year, when The New York Times, Reuters, and Wired, among other outlets, ran stories. Already confirmed for this year's red carpet are AP, Newsweek, and ABC News Radio.

The show will also have its first working media room and a traditional red carpet entryway.

Those who attend the awards, which will feature double the seating capability from years past, are likely to see scheduled appearances from mainstream entertainers like rockers Gene Simmons, Dave Navarro, and Buck Cherry; comedian Carrot Top; show presenter Jim Norton; and illusionist Criss Angel. And among nominees, guitarist Eddie Van Halen is up for 18 awards.

To promote the AVN Awards themselves, Procko has placed a great deal of focus on radio - from Howard Stern to Adam Carolla - and the Internet, including aggressive blog outreach and a MySpace page which went from four "to well over 1,300 friends in a two-week period."

Members of the industry "realize the value of PR," Procko said. "They put a lot of time and effort into media training, crisis communications... all kinds of things that weren't going on before."

Brian Gross, whose BSG Public Relations in Woodland Hills, CA, represents nominees including Joanna Angel, said that while there is still a stigma, "you're dealing with a billion-dollar industry. You can't ignore it."

Gross said that thanks in part to cultural shifts influenced by the popularity of Sex and the City and Will and Grace, there's been a recent openness to discussing sexuality - and that means opportunities to reach new audiences via mainstream publications covering fashion and popular culture.

"It's not what you talk about behind closed doors anymore," Procko said.

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