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Audra Berends: How It Works: PR in the Film Industry

I’ve always loved movies. Maybe everyone feels this way, but after a movie I watch the credits roll with one thought swirling through my head: how can I be a part of something like this? The problem lies in my limited skills. I’m not interested in the tech/filming side of the industry and don’t believe I have what it takes to be a real actor. What I do have is an idea of how I can work in the film industry without being one of those two things. The answer lies in Public relations. 

*For reference, I am in college with a Communication major and a concentration in Public Relations. 

What is public relations?

Public relations (PR) is a broad term that refers to a company or person’s ability to keep a good relationship between them and their customers or fans. When it comes to the film industry, some PR personnel are referred to as publicists. 

What does a publicist do? 

Publicists can be used for both films and actors to create buzz and protect their image.

  • Can schedule press conferences, announce casts, and release movie/ TV trailers

  • Manage crises and negative publicity 

  • Build a positive image

Movie publicity:

I’m sure you’ve seen countless movie trailers on TV and social media. Some movies have amazing publicity and are highly anticipated, while the marketing for others leaves room to improve. 

Publicity stunts

A publicity stunt is “a large and coordinated professional or amateur public relations event that is intended to raise awareness about a cause or product,” according to also states that a publicity stunt is successful with three things: community involvement, something memorable, and something bold.

For example: When Antman was being marketed before release, Marvel put up ant-sized billboards and miniature art pieces designed by an artist by the name of Slinkachu. This created buzz and hype for the upcoming movie!

Fun fact break:

An interesting fact about the film industry is that when producers budget for the movie the marketing budget = film budget, showing just how important it is to publicize a movie properly. 

Publicity using influencers: 

Publicists also have the job of inviting influencers to film premieres. Recently, Marvel has been inviting Tik Tok influencers who dress in cosplay or do film reviews to premieres. One influencer in particular @strawhatgoofy was asked to interview stars on the carpet for the Spiderman: No Way Home premiere livestream on Tik Tok. 

Similarly, @emilyuuribe was famous on Tik Tok for pretending to do celebrity interviews. Publicists liked her content and she has now been invited to countless movie premieres and award shows, like the Golden Globes.

As someone who uses Tik Tok, both of these influencers had me really intrigued by the movies they were promoting. Publicists need to do to come up with unique ideas to influence different social media platforms and age demographics.

Actor publicity:

To begin talking about publicity for actors, I think it is best explained by LA producer Fran Harvey. 

“The actor themselves are the product and need someone to manage the business, market the business, and watch out for the identity of the business.”

In comparison to PR for movies, instead of the movie being advertised, the actor is. Like mentioned earlier, the main function of publicists for actors is to share roles the actor gets cast in and manage the events they attend. The publicist also creates buzz for the actor. A publicity stunt between actors could be a “relationship” between two main members of a cast to make the on-screen relationship that much more interesting. 

Side note

If you have ever seen celebs all of a sudden paired up as a couple and it seems suspicious, it probably is! Many music artists or actors will pair up when they both have something big released. For example, (this is unconfirmed) actors and music artists, Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello released a song together called “Senorita” and soon after were frequently spotted by paparazzi together in a romantic relationship. Who knows if it was real or not, but it sure increased the buzz factor!

Back to the point shares tips for actors looking into having a publicist and why it’s so important. Author of the article Tammy Lynn, states that PR can gain attention for an actor and create an image. She also explains that actors should always be looking for help from public relations professionals.

“Overall, if you’re looking for an answer to the question of whether you should be using PR in your career, the answer is a resounding yes. The hesitation so many of you feel about PR is due to the fact that you simply don’t know why, how or when to use it. It’s not because you aren’t worthy.” - Tammy Lynn

So maybe you aren’t an actor like the infamous Zendaya, but maybe you could eventually work up to managing her social presence and making sure she is at the next red carpet!

How to become a publicist:

According to Indeed, there are four steps to becoming a publicist:

  1. Getting a college degree– communications, marketing, PR, journalism are all great options

  2. Work experience– get an internship and gain experience!

  3. Membership in PRSA (Public Relations Society of America)- becoming a member of a PR organization isn’t required but can be helpful with creating connections

  4. Build a resume– I am currently in a PR writing class where we are curating a media kit for a non-profit organization. This would be amazing to include on a resume. Employers want to see what you can do!

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