Diary: Cowell hires PR for X-Factor 'stars'...

Anyone tired of the stream of non-celebrities forced upon us by TV talent shows such as Pop Idol and Fame Academy will be intrigued to hear that three contestants in ITV programme X-Factor have already had PR support brought in for them - long before a winner is even crowned.

As the much-hyped competition between the show's hosts hots up, judge Simon Cowell has shown how much he believes PR can influence the vote by bringing in Hackford Jones PR to promote his proteges.

Rival judges Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh are relying on the talent of their contestants and the expertise of programme producer Thames Talkback's own comms team.

One of Cowell's hopefuls, Verity Keays, has already been dropped from the competition, which has been whittled down to seven finalists.

But don't expect to be spared a promotional onslaught, with the agency set to push Cowell's trio for as long as is deemed possible.

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