Hollywood's Perception of Public Relations

Hi everyone! Account Executive Lauren Fernstrom here. Last week my boss took me to a screening of “Hancock,” the new Will Smith summer blockbuster which screened at Lucasfilms’ beautiful Presidio theater. I walked in expecting a fun, rambunctious summer getaway. However, within a few minutes and with the introduction of Jason Bateman, I realized quickly that my industry, public relations, was a large part of this film. Looks like work just followed me home! And much like “Thank you for Smoking” or “Sex and the City,” it gave the public yet another “sneak-peak” into the world of public relations. So now, after a look into lobbying for cigarettes and promoting Smith Jarrod, the audience can see into the eyes of sponsorships, non-profit partnerships and the ever popular “Green” category.

This leads me into the best line from “Hancock,” which is when a potential client says to Jason Bateman, who is pitching a (RED)-like program (think Motorola, GAP, etc.) to him, “Oh, I get it, you’re like the Bono of PR!” And Bateman is quick to reply with, “I think Bono is the Bono of PR.” Genius. Yes, both the line AND Bono.

In the film, Jason Bateman befriends Hancock, a lonely and unpopular superhero, who is costing the city of Los Angeles millions after his not-so-poised efforts cause huge pileups, explosions, etc. So what does Bateman tell him to do to win back the public’s love? Well, he tells him to shape up, shave, wear a cool looking rubber suit and say “good job” to everyone. Does that sound like PR to you? On the surface, maybe, but I think that the public has a large misconception as to what PR really is.

Defining a client’s key messages, brainstorming new story ideas, creating PR plans, conducting community outreach, training clients to be successful interviewees — these are real PR tools; not just parties or fancy clothes and slicked back hair. But now I have to ask this question: have you ever seen a movie that incorporates these real PR tactics?

As a PR professional, I can’t quite endorse the Hollywood version of public relations. Throwing a party is a PR tactic but the goals and strategy behind that tactic is what PR really is!

Now, for the pièce de résistance, my Buzzworthy spots for summer 2008 in San Francisco:

  1. Blazing Saddles – Biking in and around San Francisco is one of my favorite things to do. You can rent bikes here by the day and go wherever you please! My favorite ride is to Tiburon (20 miles yes, but definitely worth it!), where you can finish your afternoon at Sam’s Anchor Café.
  2. The Lush Lounge – One of my favorite places on Polk. They literally have the best Cosmos in town, and you get free popcorn with your drinks! Plus, it’s great for a pre-movie cocktail if you’re going to AMC Van Ness (ahem, Sex and the City fans!)
  3. Modern Thai – This is some of the best Thai in SF! Somehow it’s become an LCI tradition – with some of us going on a daily basis (I won’t name names!). Definitely check it out – the fluorescent interior will brighten your day!
  4. California State Parks – Our state parks will need volunteers and donations more than ever after the devastating fires across the state.
  5. Schroeder’s – Das boot and schnitzel!
  6. Ocean Beach – The perfect place for our unseasonably hot summer days!
  7. Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy – Parks for all forever.
  8. ACC –American Craft Council, one of LCI’s most crafty clients, comes back to San Francisco for its 33rd show this August this year artists who use recycled, eco-friendly materials and techniques will be highlighted. Head over to Fort Mason to shop for style and the environment!
  9. Endless Summer Party – Need I say more?
  10. Slanted Door – Everyone deserves some Charles Phan in their life.
  11. Meals on Wheels – You can donate time, meals and more to this outstanding San Francisco organization that benefits homebound seniors.
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2 Comments

  1. david Reply

    Hey Lauren:

    Great thoughts – and don’t forget another great portrayal of PR in the movies – “Wag the Dog.” And while it’s not traditional PR, I still also love “The Devil Wears Prada,” for what it says about image and presentation. And after all, isn’t that PR? Cheers, David

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