The different Faces of Celebrity PR

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.

Miley Cyrus is a PR Genius

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In terms of marketing herself, Miley Cryus is a living example of the “all press is good press” ideal, even when most is bad press. When you look around, there are not many supporters of Cyrus, however her name has not been out of the media since she put out her music video for “We Can’t Stop.”

She is currently one of the most famous people in the music business, and that fame is certainly helping her out in her success. Many pop stars have gone through similar transitions but there is something unique about what Cyrus is doing. However, these aren’t just random acts of crazy – Miley Cyrus has a strategic plan about how she wants to reinvent herself.

She is a reflection of youth in America. This doesn’t mean that everyone is running around in leotards sticking their tongues out, however Cyrus is using fashion and culture trends to her advantage. Producer Pharrell commented on her in MTV’s “Miley Cyrus: The Movement,” phrasing it perfectly, “…she grew up in the in the era when kids listen to hip-hop. People ask, ‘Why is she twerking? Why is she doing this?’ Because she’s a product of America.”

Twerking, edgy scandalous fashion, and party behavior are all fads among the young adults of the U.S. that Cyrus has incorporated into her image; how couldn’t she be this famous?

She is actually very talented. A celebrity can be all over the media but never actually have success because they have nothing to offer. Miley grabbed the public’s attention with her outrageous performances and music videos, but the girl has talent. “We Can’t Stop” and “Party in the U.S.A. peaked at #2 on Billboard Hot 100, and her most recent single “Wrecking Ball” made it to #1. Her new album topped the charts and had decent reviews by Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly, among many others.

Everyone loves a hot mess transformation. She is certainly not Hannah Montana anymore. The change did not happen overnight, and one of the reasons that she has remained famous is because she keeps developing (as anyone does from age 13 to 20) with the times. Cyrus mixed in her do-what-you-want attitude with skills she’s learned from the industry in revamping herself, like what she said in her documentary, “It’s a strategic hot mess.” But strategic, nonetheless.

Whether you love her, hate her or hate that you love her, there’s no denying the impressive way Miley has handled herself over the past year. It will be very interesting to see what she will do next, and if she will continue to hold our attention. Either way there’s no doubt that she is a PR star.

-Morgan Brenner is a freshman studying strategic communication. Follow her at @Morganbren.

Promoting Outside the Box: Innovative PR Stunts

Public relations professionals are always on their toes, anticipating what’s next. PR is an industry that is constantly on the verge of change and perpetually in motion. Today’s consumer market is so highly competitive, it forces PR brains to extend beyond traditional promotional tactics and stand out innovatively. Teams work to creatively break through a clutter of brands targeting the same audiences by staging PR stunts.

Small Girl PromTake Small Girls PR’s 30 Days of Prom stunt, for example. Two small girls delved into the glamorous, glittery world of prom by wearing a different prom dress every day for 30 days.  Fashion-crazed, prom-ready teens could follow the activities on a tumblr page to explore prom tips and tricks, and maybe even participate in the challenge themselves. The stunt concluded with a prom event hosted my Styleite, Tumblr, and

Girls all over the country fell in love with prom again. 30 Days of Prom was even featured in Elle Girl, Glamour and The Gloss, just to name a few. This genius PR stunt created major buzz and hyped the anticipation for girls to find their perfect prom dress via 30 Days of Prom caught the attention of many, and made stand out as a leading prom dress supplier.

Other mastermind PR stunts include Chevy’s aerial attraction, where Chevy sent a new Sonic sedan out of an airplane and streamed a video of its airborne free-fall on YouTube, generating millions of views. Someone please tell me that they would not be curious to see this?

As young professionals, here’s how we can get our creative wheels turning.

1. Think outside of the box. Tear down all the boundaries that box-in traditional PR tactics. Think beyond city limits, beyond American culture and beyond objectives. Think big and get creative.

2. Recognize that no idea is stupid. Anything can lead to something big and great. Pitch all your ideas, even if you think they’re stupid, because there is always a possibility that your small, silly and underdeveloped idea will snowball into something buzz-worthy.

3. Use your resources. Pull from all angles that are available to you to either create or implement a stunt. What lies in your bag of resources? Printing, street festivals, influential people, college libraries, anything at all can help exponentially.

4. Find what engages your audience and run with it. Hosting PR stunts will only get you so far. Along with a head-turning stunt, take the conversation online. Facilitate a dialogue that engages the audience with your brand, placing the stunt at the center of conversation.

Everyday brands pull out their swords and battle against the cluttered market population to win the hearts of consumers, especially within the plethora of logos, slogans, billboards and blogs. Attracting attention demands innovative, out-of-the-box PR stunts. Brilliant PR stunts can work wonders for your brand’s reputation and recognition, and it all begins with out-of-the-box, innovative thinking.

-Marisa Dockum is a junior communications studies major with a global leadership certificate. Follow her at @MarisaDockum

Take a Bite Out of…Your Picnic Table?

Do you love chocolate? And PR?table

Then Cadbury’s recent PR campaign featuring a REAL chocolate picnic table will be sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

The 60 kilogram chocolate picnic table made its appearance at Cotswold Wildlife Park in Oxfordshire, England to celebrate National Picnic Week that took place from June 17-23.

The Cadbury bench was completely edible and supported a family of four. Who needs to pack a picnic when you can just eat the table?

You might ask yourself how the table survived without melting in the hot, summer temperatures. It was actually covered in a glaze to prevent damage from the elements and lasted the entire week without melting!

Although tasty, it wasn’t the comfiest table in the world. Prudence Staite, founder of Food is Art and creator of the table, tested it out herself.

She remarked, “The bobbly nature of the Picnic bar, due to its combination of milk chocolate, peanuts and puffed rice, meant I had to sit on a padded cushion!”

The bench was constructed using 400 Cadbury chocolate bars and stacked on top of the bench were Cadbury Picnic Bars handed out to visitors of the wildlife park. Picnic bars are one of Cadbury’s oldest and most-loved bars filled with nuts, wafer, rice crisps, chocolate and caramel.

Cadbury used Facebook and Twitter posts to create buzz about the chocolate bench and has since been covered by The Sun, Huffington Post and The Daily Star.

Why was this simple PR campaign so successful?

#1 Cadbury recognized a national week in order to bring recognition to its brand…easy PR win. When trying to leverage your client’s brand through PR, make sure you’re aware of current events and news, even those wacky holidays. Take advantage of well known events that the public already knows about and then relate your brand to it in a creative way!

#2 Snapping a few fun photos of the bench created great shareable content.Cadbury used a photo shoot with the chocolate bench to create buzz on social networks. It saw several retweets on Twitter and over 100 shares on Facebook. It’s true: A picture can be worth a thousand words.

#3 Who doesn’t love chocolate? I haven’t heard many people say, “I hate chocolate”. Cadbury successfully appealed to a wide chocolate-loving audience while also promoting its forgotten picnic bars.

Like Cadbury Dairy Milk on Facebook or follow @DairyMilk on Twitter to learn more about its PR campaigns!

-Carly Damman is a senior studying strategic communications. Tell her what you think about the campaign @CarlyDamman.