Magazine article Variety

Rise of Social Media Disrupts and Helps the Craft of Publicity

Magazine article Variety

Rise of Social Media Disrupts and Helps the Craft of Publicity

Article excerpt

Entertainment industry publicists have found a profoundly altered landscape in recent years as social media emerges as the predominant method for reaching much of the audience.

That's the overriding view of several recipients of the Les Mason Award, the top award presented to publicists by Intl. Cinematographers Guild, Local 600 - the union in which the Publicists Guild resides. The newest Les Mason winner will be announced at the 55th awards on March 2.

"The bottom line is still to create buzz and get attention for projects," says last year's Les Mason winner Rosalind Sepulveda Jarrett, who has been handling publicity for the SAG Awards for more than decade.

"As technology evolves, our job is to evolve with it. There are so many different delivery platforms now."

Jarrett recalls that in her early years with ABC during the 1980s, the telephone was the key form of communication.

"Back then, we relied on faxes and Teletype because people did not have computers on their desks," she says. "The computer was something that everyone shared."

Jarrett says the seventh SAG Awards were the first to offer an online credentialing process. "That was pretty revolutionary back in 2001."

Henri Bollinger, who won the Les Mason award in 1974, has similar memories - particularly of the dawn of social media and the emerging need to get information out not just with one announcement but around the clock.

"The entertainment industry was not the first to use social media," he recalls. "Publicists held on to the traditional means of getting the word out, but that began to change once it was clear that social media was very effective."

Bollinger says the need to change was underlined when a client asked that the information go out at the hour of 2 a.m.

"I could not stay up that late so I wound up recruiting a student from my PR class at UCLA Extension," he recalls. "So it got sent out at 2 a.m., and at 9 a.m. I got a call from the client, who was pleasantly surprised at getting all the responses that early in the day. And the studios then discovered the value of social media pretty quickly - so much so that they often launched it without announcing that they were doing it."

Tim Minke says that the job of the publicist has changed massively since he won the Les Mason in 2006.

"It's taken a quantum leap because audiences have so many options to be entertained," he says. …

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