Ohio University ImPRessions

Ohio University ImPRessions

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The different Faces of Celebrity PR

February 18, 2014

Model Cindy Crawford poses on the red carpet as she arrives for the screening of the film 'The Great Gatsby' and for the opening ceremony of the 66th Cannes Film Festival in CannesFrom the subtle to the scandalous, each superstar and their publicity team decide how they want to be perceived in the public eye. And with today’s influx of new, innovative technology that allows us to have access to anyone’s life at our fingertips, celebs are more visible than ever. Here are a few of the most memorable Hollywood publicity moments from the past several years.

Kanye West: the one-man PR show. West seems to precisely control every visible aspect of his and fiancée Kim Kardashian’s lives. From hiring a stylist to replace Kim’s entire closet (no small feat) with clothing that was more to his liking, to voicing his offense over a Jimmy Kimmel parody of one of his interviews, West seems to enjoy running his own show. Although there’s nothing wrong with caring about the way you’re perceived, his extreme methods and lack of a sense of humor are off-putting.

Shia LaBeouf: the reverse psychologist. If you haven’t heard, LaBeouf is sorry for plagiarizing other artists’ works. After showing up to a film premiere in Berlin last week wearing a paper bag that read “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE,” the former Disney Channel and Transformers star opened an interactive art installation in Los Angeles titled “#IAMSORRY” (hashtag and all). Despite tweeting that he is “retiring from public life,” LaBeouf seems to be doing the exact opposite. He wants to get people talking, and what better way to do that than to declare oneself “not famous anymore”?

Justin Bieber: the unsuccessful trainwreck. The Canadian pop singer had several run-ins with the law this past year, and the general public doesn’t seem to want any part of it. His new album and concert movie, which both debuted in December, have both flopped. Those who saw his movie or buy his album were existing fans – his antics haven’t exactly won him any new markets. He may be generating buzz, but Twitter trends don’t sell albums.

Chris Brown: the comeback. In the case of the singer’s 2009 domestic violence charges, Brown had a valuable PR asset, his attorney Mark Geragos. While the rest of the world couldn’t stop talking about the brutal physical harm Brown allegedly inflicted on then-girlfriend Rihanna, Geragos advised Brown to lay low and avoid the public spotlight for a while. When the singer had his day in court, Geragos took it upon himself to remind the courtroom and millions worldwide, about all the good things Brown did and accomplished. The whole strategy reads like a textbook crisis communications tactic, and it worked almost too well: disturbingly enough, Brown continues to make music and sell records, and the domestic violence incident is seemingly brushed under the rug.

Miley Cyrus: the good girl gone bad. Over the past year or so, Cyrus has been a walking definition of the word “rebranding.” If there’s one thing she doesn’t want, it’s to be seen as tween pop idol Hannah Montana anymore. But like it or not, her strategy seems to be working: when she’s not twerking or sticking her tongue out, she’s selling albums.

Beyoncé: the shocker. On Dec. 12, fans around the world were stunned to discover that Queen Bey had released a 14-track “visual album” on iTunes with absolutely no promotion or publicity. She wasn’t alone in her efforts, either – the surprise album features collaborations with other big-name stars like Drake and Frank Ocean, none of whom said a word. The power of Beyoncé is strongly evident here: the album had shattered iTunes records and sold over one million copies in less than a week. Beyoncé’s unprecedented stunt proves that once you make it big, elaborate promotion efforts aren’t always necessary.

Lindsey Zimmerman is a sophomore studying Strategic Communication and specializing in Spanish. You can follow her on Twitter at @lindseyzim716.

Twitter Lessons from the A-List

December 2, 2013 2 Comments

As technology is evolving, so are the ethics of journalism. Part of the changing technology is the emerging presence and influence of social media. In 140 characters you can enhance or inhibit your professional career – so no pressure.

By having a presence on Twitter you are not only conveying your thoughts, ideas and work, but you’re building a brand that may be an employer’s first impression of you. And what better way to learn what to do, and not do, on Twitter than look at the people who arguably have the most influence on the Twitter community?

Here’s some lessons to take away from some of our favorite A-list celebrities.

Do show your personality. Oftentimes I will like, or dislike, a celebrity based on how funny and relatable I find their tweets. And yes, I do realize this may not be the best course of action.

Take Anna Kendrick for example. I saw her in Twilight and loved her in Pitch Perfect, but I never really thought twice about her until I found her Twitter, after which she instantly became one of my favorite celebrities.

Anna

Do promote your work. Promoting your work is important and now with the influence of the Internet, we have more power than ever before to set ourselves apart and promote our work.

Mindy

Do connect with others. By reaching out to a firm or company before meeting with them, you have a great opportunity to set an amazing first impression. By connecting with others you can also promote collaborations. Jimmy Fallon does this before his show each night.

Jimmy

Don’t get into Twitter feuds. This one’s for you Kanye. Getting into a fight with Jimmy Kimmel on Twitter…probably not the smartest idea. So if you’re having an issue with a friend, colleague or stranger, it might be best to not display your emotions on the Internet for everyone to see. A simple phone call or text message might suffice in this situation.

Kimmel

Don’t drunk tweet. We get it, you partied, maybe drank a little too much. That doesn’t mean you have to turn to Twitter every time you have a crazy night. There are some things that are better left off the Internet, and drunken tweets are one of them.

LIamDon’t tweet only promotional things. When people only tweet promotional things to advance their careers, I get bored. It’s always more fun to follow people who spice up their promotions with some personality or fun anecdote.

-Carolyn Nachman is a junior studying strategic communication. Follow her at @CarolynNachman.

Recent Challenges in Social Media Ethics

November 24, 2013 5 Comments

Current trends in social media are both exciting and potentially scary. The amount of change is unprecedented, and the future of social media is a giant question mark waiting for our ideas to shape and transform it. Social media is centered around real people being themselves and expressing their ideas in a honest and open dialogue. It’s about connection. It’s about being social. It’s about opening the doors to a global community.

However, there are threats that many users may not even be aware of.

Astroturfing. Before reading this article I had no idea what ‘astroturfing‘ was, let alone how greatly it could affect online users. For those that were in the dark like myself, astroturfing involves using sophisticated software to pose as real people and support the cause of the software purchaser.

This is an almost unbelievable problem. Movie plots of smart technology going horribly wrong like the Matrix, Smart House, and iRobot all come to mind. However, the worst part of it is that the bad guys here are not smart technology — it’s people. This is something that used to be done as anonymous letters to the paper, but as technology advances the threats become even more expansive.

The people involved in using this software are betraying the very nature of blog comments and social media. These forums are meant to give each individual a voice, including those who are using astroturfing to silence that voice. It is a behind-the-scenes lie that attempts to sway public opinion by pretending to be the public, something so unethical I can’t believe that it’s legal. As journalists, I believe it is our responsibility to call out such activity and advocate for the public, although the software could comment on our articles and make it appear that no one agrees with our take on the issue.

Sponsored Tweets. While astroturfing can take place on a number of platforms, sponsored tweets are a challenge that has grown as Twitter has become increasingly popular. Well-followed celebrities or parody accounts will accept money to give a company or brand a positive shout out.

As a Twitter user, I can think of nothing I detest more than when these kind of tweets pop up on my news feed. Twitter should be an ad-free space, and I greatly lose respect for any popular people I follow that engage in this activity. Most of the time I simply unfollow them. These people are well trusted in the media and, while they may not consider themselves accountable to journalistic standards, they need to reevaluate their ethical standards. Accepting money in attempts to try to persuade their followers is not keeping the best interest of those followers a top priority. Take a look at how much some of the most popular tweeters are being paid.

With both of these growing issues it seems we are being catfished by celebrities we may look up to and businesses or government agencies that might not deserve the respect we give them. For those that don’t know what catfishing is, the following video will make the similarity abundantly clear.

Just as Nev didn’t know who the girl he met online truly was, perhaps we are getting to the point where we can’t trust the authenticity of fellow blog commenters or advocating tweeters.

It is up to us to stop these shady breaches of confidence from happening. If celebrities lose large followings every time they take cash for a tweet, it will decrease their incentive to do so. In addition, if the public can shed light on the specific events and organizations involved in astroturfing, the software loses its purpose and the public dialogue can continue to be an exchange worth having. Like I said before, it’s up to us.

-Ann Watercutter is a junior studying strategic communications with a minor in business and a marketing specialization. Keep up with Ann at @AWatercutter.

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