PR in the New Century
2015 by Nick Bania
PR in the New Century Ft. J. Bieber
When I first started in Public Relations and Promotions, it was pretty cut and dry. There was a lot more work involved with press releases and promotion of various shows.
My first big gig, was a fundraiser for the AIDS Quilt/Foundation, in the form of a battle of the bands. We went all over the area to several high schools, putting flyers on the student’s cars to advertise the night. I wrote a few press releases and they were placed advantageously in different sections of different news papers. It was a blast to produce the whole thing, and I realized that we could really make a difference in the charity arena, making more than three thousand dollars within a half hour of the doors opening.
If I had the resources then, that I have right now, I the legwork would be much less, and the information communication would have been unmatched. We did have the venue filled to capacity according to the Fire Marshal for the city, which was great. If I were able to Tweet, Post to Face Book, Instagram, WordPress, Pinterest, Tumblr, and the like daily up until the day of the event, we would have had an issue with the venue being to small. It was held at the local Armory, and we would have needed a field. Which is a problem most producers and promoters would love to have, especially on their first run.
Now, I have a multitude of concentrations that I specialize in with more than twenty years experience in the industries of PR, Communications, Guest/Customer Relations, and Design and Production of Websites. Had we had a website, I could have slept all through each night; instead of staying up until 4 am worrying and perfecting everything to make sure the show was a success.
Success, in this day and age is relative to how much content you get out there and who expresses an interest in the business at hand. You must be able to generate and find excellent content to keep people interested and to ensure they also “share” the information on all levels of social media. You Tube is a big deal as well, and had we had that, we could have recorded the show and posted that recording to the site to ensure the next show’s success.
I did another show a couple of years later, and it wasn’t as successful as the first one. There were a lot of mistakes made. The biggest one; I hired out a PR guy, which was a disaster. By the time I realized he hadn’t even gotten the press releases to the right people in the press, it was too late to get the word out soon enough to turn it around, and the turnout was disappointing.
PR and Promoters now, have the opportunity to change everything within minutes in getting the information out there. If there are last minute changes, all we have to do is hit social media and it’s all set. The work comes in retrieving fans and followers. If those folks like what you do, and you personally, they are going to like most of your content, thus prompting them to share the information you are trying communicate. It really is a marvel to see, that each of us has the power to be a publicity machine on our own terms. I love that part of my job, which benefits my clients in ways that I could never have imagined 20 years ago. Social media has changed the way we all do things, what we say, and how we are perceived. As you all know, in society, perception is everything. Social media can be used as a weapon in business as well as on a personal level. It has ensured that businesses and people stay on their toes to be the best they can be, for many reasons, mostly to keep their reputation intact as good and honorable.
I have employed tactics that have helped my clients get ahead, whether or not it’s considered good business; I think it is. Using this “weapon” judiciously is key, as Dwight Eisenhower said, “The best way to keep power is to know when NOT to use it.” This is key to Public Relations and all the resources that we have at our disposal to absolutely destroy our enemies, and the enemies of my clients are by default mine. So, making sure that we are always on the offensive, especially if there is trouble brewing. Or has come to a boil and boiled over.
When it comes to damage control and crisis management, I have to say the perfect case and point is what happened with Justin Bieber. He lost his way, his handlers lost control of the PR, and it nearly ended his career. His PR machine then went into overdrive last year to ensure his comeback, and they used social media to do it. Justin has 67 million followers on Twitter alone, and millions more in other social media venues. That young man saved his career by doing exactly what I would have advised him to do. I would have said, “Justin you need to make a decision. Do you want your career to continue or do you want it to end. If you want it to end, is this the way you want to be remembered? There are millions of fans that still have faith in you, and will forgive you for what you’ve done. The fact is that they consider you their property because they have been supporting you since you were a kid. It’s a fact, so what can we do to make it up to all of them? You made the decision to lead this type of life, so in essence you owe your success to the very people who are attacking you right now.” In PR even bad PR is good, as long as you have a skilled professional to smooth everything out. The mistake the Bieber team made was to simply ignore everything and let thing take their course. His publicist should have been all over it, for the entire year he was getting into trouble. “You need take responsibility for your actions and tap into your own faith.” I thought it was brilliant for his people to get the word out there about how sorry he was, his comeback story was not only inspiring but he wore his heart on his sleeve, and let the criticism wash over him, but he stood tall and continued the path taking responsibility and reaching out to his celebrity friends like Ellen, to help him re-establish his presence on the music scene. Sure, there are always going to be haters out there. But, there are a lot more people who have and will overlook the past to view the present and future. There is no doubt in my mind that he will be around for a long time, he’s just that talented, and his fans are the most loyal base I have ever researched.
In essence, it was a fantastically risky move to act up and rebel like he did. But it generated press, albeit bad. Any good publicist will tell you that even bad press is good; and in this case it worked out. I believe it was calculated. I believe he did what he did on purpose, so he could have a comeback, and it’s a play right out of my own playbook. It’s a remarkable tool, social media, it can not only ruin a career, it can within a year, bring an artist back from the brink. I never really believed he was the way he was portrayed in the entertainment media, I had a feeling it was a move like what Miley Cyrus accomplished, except the outcome was highly unexpected. Whereas Miley has some very skilled publicists working for her and she has gotten away with becoming what she has become. You can judge her, but she’s still got you talking about her. Justin’s backfired because he didn’t communicate with his people, leaving himself open to character assassination, and the entire perception of who we thought he was, to be blown up by the media. If I was in charge of his PR, I would have terminated his publicist for letting it get that far. But again, the argument that it worked to his advantage can be proven in his amazing comeback this past year.
So, I would say that his Team Bieber should be perceived as saving his career, even if it was a masterfully calculated operation. Kudos to Mr. Bieber and his publicists, his managers, and especially to Social Media, which is a miracle of modernity. It is a truly powerful tool that can be used to make things right when they have gone all the way wrong.