Ian Monk: Stars sacrifice privacy rights

In the looking-glass universe of celebrity, as in the real world, the circle of life spins seamlessly and without pause.

Ian Monk
Ian Monk

No sooner had the tragedy of Jade Goody run its course than signs of new life appeared with the reported pregnancy of my client Coleen Rooney. The prayers of a broad church of editors appeared to have been answered with divine alacrity.

Circulations of red tops and many magazines rest largely on the celebrity world from which they feed. Many tabloid legends and personas are created with the creative collusion of smart publicists extending their clients’ 15 minutes into a lifetime of fame.

Equally often, editors are engaged in robust debate with publicists whose remit is to control access and to protect clients from media intrusions.

Skilled media handling means ensuring a balance that works for both sides. Publicist and client must be mindful of the media’s power to damage image through overexposure as well as to promote it through controlled access.

Equally they must always remember that privacy is a precious commodity. Once sacrificed at the altar of celebrity it is hard, or even impossible, to regain.

However, the spin cycle of celebrity continues. Back in the headlines this week is Shilpa Shetty – once Jade’s nemesis, now, in memoriam, her friend. With felicitous timing, we learn Shetty is being lined up for a part in EastEnders.

Like all characters in the celebrity pantheons, Shetty is presented to audiences as a close acquaintance. This faux intimacy is aided by blogs and tweets. Whether or not the tweets are written by the celebrity, the chattering intimacy feeds the illusion of familiarity.

With brilliant prescience, the magazine geniuses of Emap six years ago christened its new celebrity magazine Closer.

Capturing the zeitgeist of intimacy, it was a defining success story.

Now the trick for brand and celebrity publicists is to ensure ‘closer’ does not become too close in the name of a celebrity fix.


Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun

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