Guest Post: Three Tips For Working Celebrity PR

Beyonce and her publicist Yvette Noel-Schure. Photo: Frank Micelotta, Getty Images
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Entertainment PR can be a fun career path that puts you smack in the middle of the music, film, or theater industry. But, just like any other area of public relations, it also means working with difficult clients, building relationships, and getting results.

Working with the famous means being an adviser not a groupie. In today’s guest post, Sasha Brookner, founder of L.A.-based Helio PR, gives readers three tips for working with celebrities. Click through to read on.

A Crash Course in Working With Celebs by Sasha Brookner, founder of Helio PR

Publicists and celebrities have an interesting dynamic — we sell their narratives, coach them for interviews, and jump in when there’s a crisis. After working in the public relations field for over a decade, dealing with the often erratic demands of high profile clientele, I’ve come up with three tips for those interested in an entertainment PR career that will help them develop constructive working relationships with rising artists or A-List superstars.

Don’t be a “Yes” Person. This is by far the most annoying trait that a behind-the-scenes person can possess because it involves encouraging behavior that may not need encouragement. It is precipitated from some warped ideology that agreeing with everything will put you in a more favorable light.

Wrong.

Celebrities have enough “Yes” people hawking them and if you speak with any entertainer you’ll discover that it’s one of their biggest grievances. Whether in the studio with a producer who asks your thoughts on a new song, or in Neiman Marcus being asked your opinion on a potential award show dress, be honest at all times. If the emperor is not wearing clothes, somebody needs to tell him. Similarly, I’ve found myself in positions with clients—whether discussing politics with hip-hop icon KRS-One or comedy with Katt Williams—where my candor impressed them and an implicit trust was established.

– Develop Personal Relationships. There is an antiquated “golden rule” in the industry that publicists shouldn’t reach out to an artist directly. Instead, we’re supposed to let their management act as the intermediary liaisons. This is extremely counterproductive. A publicist must understand the core of their client’s artistry, persona, and goals in order to formulate stories and pitches that are truthful and representative. Celebs appreciate when you “get” them, and in order to do so, you must converse regularly. If you watch the interaction between Beyoncé and her longtime publicist Yvette Noel-Schure on the red carpet or behind the scenes, you will see an almost maternal relationship. The personal bond and trust they’ve established over the years is the paragon of an artist-publicist relationship.

Don’t Make Promises. Promoting delusions of grandeur will come back to haunt you. For example, you’ve just secured that client you’ve wanted for over a year and your immediate thought is to impress them by mouthing off a litany of magazines and TV shows you’re going to single-handedly get them by next week (publicists have a tendency to be a tad hyperbolic). If you’re working with an up-and-coming artist getting ready to put out his first independently distributed album, he will not be gracing the cover of Rolling Stone anytime soon and you must make this clear from the beginning. Misleading artists engenders unrealistic expectations. Don’t put yourself in that position.