The life of a movie star can be precarious. Once you rise to the top of the pile, painstaking attention must be paid to maintaining a positive public reputation. Many fans see their favorite actors and actresses as role models, and the public’s perception can be fickle and change in an instant. Marketing professionals are paid high salaries to deal with the mayhem that accompanies the pressures of fame. Learning to be a publicist is one way to break into the entertainment industry and wind up with some great stories to boot.
Even actors who are well-entrenched in the Hollywood scene aren’t immune from bad publicity. A Reuters report from May 2012 describes Will Smith slapping a Moscow reporter at the Russian premiere of Men in Black III after the reporter became affectionate and tried to kiss Smith on the lips. “He’s lucky I didn’t sucker punch him,” Smith was quoted as saying. The story reported that Smith quickly regained his composure and continued signing autographs for fans.
No publicity is bad publicity, but not every celebrity or public figure is blessed with grace under fire. Smith’s ability to quickly move past a vulnerable moment and continue to represent himself as a hospitable personality is rare to find in many of today’s celebrities. Stories of rehab stints, trashed hotel rooms and other forms of personal excess are easy to find among even the most renowned movie stars. Some reality TV shows are designed to put people in high-pressure situations just so the audience can watch them meltdown. These kinds of personal breakdowns have permeated our entertainment culture.
Sometimes, personal issues demand that a celebrity goes underground for a time to avoid contact with the media. A recent E! Online story documents attempts by Nick Stahl, star of Terminator III: Rise of the Machines, to contact friends and family after he went into hiding in early May 2012. A source interviewed by E! indicated that the star was avoiding publicity in order to seek rehabilitation treatment.
Like it or not, public personas are going to be judged in ways that may seem unfair by onlookers. This can be troubling for actors who are paid to present a character who isn’t truly them. Many stars pay top dollar for marketing professionals who can attract positive press coverage from media outlets.
According to The Princeton Review, a publicist is any worker who obtains press coverage for a client. It’s largely the publicist’s responsibility to communicate with the press, so the publicist ends up having a large effect on what the public gets to see or read about. Those interested in becoming a publicist can get a good start by earning a bachelor’s degree in communication, public relations or business. Earning an internship with an established public relations firm can also open up career opportunities for publicists.
Working in the world of high-profile celebrity publicity can be a stressful life, but the pay and outrageous stories you’ll receive can make it an entertaining career. If you might not like the spotlight yourself, you might find fulfilling work by directing that spotlight towards the stars.