public relations and positioning talent in the new media age

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

talent is sort of a bizarre syn for actor. i mean, not all actors have talent –look at brad pitt. or matt damon. but i guess one would rather be referred to as a talent agent as opposed to an actor agent, right?

but as this year is showing, by the endless stream of flops by so-called a-list ‘movie stars’ such as matt damon, julia roberts, denzel washington, and megan fox, is that, well basically, perception is not _everything_. especially in the case of megan fox and her new flop called something ‘body.’

so what’s happening this year. the new york times recently touched on this phenomenon of endless flops by a-list stars. but sort of came up dry. deadline hollywood covers this this weekend with questions about steven soderbergh and his matt damon vehicle which might just eek out $11M this weekend.

is the real reason that julia roberts can no longer open a film because she took too much time off? or is it all that plastic surgery she had at an unnecessarily young age? she does not look good. but we digress.

the real reason is what pat kingsley pointed out as she exited her own p.r. agency, is that the p.r. landscape has changed. information moves at lightening speed. overexposure sets in quickly. but underexposure is the kiss of death. in the age of the internet, the publicity guru needs to feed a steady stream of information. not on a daily basis. but days seem like weeks and weeks are more like months and months are more like years. and vaccums need to be filled.

that’s entertainment public relations which is primarily geared towards publicity. while what about other areas such as books? what if we replace the word ‘talen’ with the word ‘book’ or ‘product?’

for books, there’s generally no such thing as overexposure. although it would be a good idea for series authors like martin amis or will self to turn down any offer to appear on the oprah winfrey show (popular in the uk as well as the us) as jonathan franzen did in the early naughties. one wouldn’t always want to deal with the lowest common denominator.

it used to be that most mainstream books in the u.s. lived and died by whether or not they get reviewed in the new york times. now this is no longer true. the new york times certain has some bearing on success in the u.s.. but no one could attribute the success of j.k. rowling or stephenie meyer to the new york times. it’s the harry potter series which caused the newspaper to create a whole separate section for children’s books since the publishers were complaining that they could no longer get their wares on the list.

isn’t it ironic that the money losing book review section of the nytimes.com actually creates revenue for booksellers and book publishers? funny how the media industry works.

the internet is the natural friend of book publishers, although many are still quite wary of google. but as it is hard on the eyes to read 795 pages of text online, this has saved book publishers from biting the big one. and though seniors love kindle (not really), it’s merely a placeholder for something more substantial.

plastic logic has a collapsible screen coming out next year which may either start a revolution or end up in the dumpster as previous ebooks have. as people around the world are wrapping up their summer holidays, we ask ourselves, would we have liked to have spent time on the bach reading a computer screen? would it have melted in the heat or merely exploded. i have failed to find one person rocking out to his ipod (or iphone) on the beaches on any side of the mediterranean i’ve visited over the past few summers.

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