Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tina's Perfect Storm & My Role In Mommie Dearest

You have to feel sympathy for Tina Aldiss, a publicist at Mango PR who wrote an article for the media website Mumbrella.
Tina was commenting on the current woes at Fairfax Media where up to 1900 workers are to be laid off over the coming years. News Ltd will do likewise. The Shuttle has been quizzing hacks and snappers from both organisations and the fear and loathing is palpable.

Tina reckons when printed newspapers crash and burn her job flogging Arnott's biscuits and McDonald's Chicken burghers will be that much easier as she harnesses net power.
In the mean time the comments section has gone ballistic attacking poor Tina with most thinking her timing is a bit off.

The lines between reporting and publicising were blurred well over two decades ago and it's gotten worse. The Shuttle has worked both sides of the fence and gave up trying to think in terms of ethics years ago and decided to concentrate on survival.

Our only gripe is the attitude of Australian PRs and publicists ( Sydney ones are the worse.. Melbourne publicists are far better mannered). Many come across as far grander that the product they are flogging yet are really quite ignorant when it comes to inventive publicity.

Charlotte Dawson, Sarah Murdoch & Alex Perry at the WALL.
Hence the rise of the tiresome photographic/publicity board that pops up at every event from a blockbuster movie premiere to a minor beauty product launch.
And the press section will be crammed with paparazzi with sometime half a dozen working (unpaid and only on commission) for one agency who reckon the scatter gun approach will get sales. Amass hundreds of snaps of the same celebrity in varying poses and a handful might sell.

Regular Shuttle contributor Bill Ranken (right) who knows just about everyone in town and probably dated their grandmothers (at 81 years of age) discovered this recently at a charity bash for a children's hospital.
He was snubbed at the entrance by a bright-eyed 20 something publicity operative who scolded him for missing the 'wall' and scoffed at the idea guests could be photographed whilst sitting at tables. The fact the guests were the same people we all see day after day, week after week in this town was incidental.

And the problem is not really that Tina Aldriss is just stating the obvious, newspapers and magazines are responsible for blurring the lines and you can't blame a publicist for taking advantage of the fact.

Rupert Murdoch's Daily Telegraph has long been criticized for it's Sydney Confidential pages which resemble at times, a series of press releases full of inane information. It's significant that the former top Packer PR and journalist Annette Sharp has now been given her own Saturday edition spread and is delving into the lives of anyone who isn't Lady GaGa or Beyonce in an obvious move to challenge er rivals-not that it should be too hard.
As for the Shuttle, we have been shameless at times and never let accuracy get in the way of a good publicity campaign.

Years ago we travelled to New York with the UK Daily Express' William Hickey correspondent, the late Timothy Swallow and set up shop in a suite at the Waldorf Astoria in order to interview US celebrities for a series of show biz style books commissioned by a top promoter.

One day we went to a Times Square cinema to see the just released Mommie Dearest with Faye Dunnaway starring as Joan Crawford. Hollywood had boycotted the film, the star and producers deeming it a treacherous portrayal of a Hollywood legend.
 We loved it.

At one point in the movie Joan beats her children late one night after discovering their wardrobes contained wire coat hangers (apparently Joan had a thing about wire hangers), screaming "NO WIRE COAT HANGERS !!!"

 That night over cocktails at Studio 54 (working our way through our generous expenses allowance) we concocted a story that groups of fans were attending theatres and when the scene appeared, would wave wire coat hangers in the air. The Daily Express duly ran the tale which was picked up and swept the world's newspapers and TV news broadcasts.

Life imitated art and soon people were appearing at cinemas and doing just that. Not only had we created a movement (and a Wikipedia page), we had given the ailing flick a million dollar boost in free advertising by propelling it into the mass media.
All for the cost of a few drinks !