Public Relations 6/21

What do you think when you hear public relations? PR is what is between a celebrity, organization, etc with the public. It is what maintains an image, manages crises when they threaten the client, and monitor various media outlets to see what is being shared about the clients. Now that’s a lot of pressure. It’s difficult enough being responsible for your own image, much less an entire other person or company.

We all have heard the phrase “any publicity is good publicity”. How true is that statement? No matter how bad ones reputation becomes, as long as people are talking it’s a good thing. Hollywood wasn’t always like this though. Publicity was not about managing public opinion when something bad happened because the public never knew anything happened. Everything was behind closed doors and public relations was responsible for keeping a stars image pristine. It’s difficult to imagine a world where magazines weren’t plagued with headlines bashing celebrities, but that’s the way it used to be thanks to the “star system” managed by public relations companies. Now, in a society where we know every little detail about celebrities, where do we begin to draw the line?

A perfect example of this is The Dixie Chicks. They were once just popular for their country music, but are better remembered for a few words the lead singer spoke at a concert in England just days before the invasion of Iraq in 2003…”Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.” The public responded with intense criticism, including a death threat before her concert. Is it too far when a celebrities life is put in danger because of their personal beliefs?

The Dixie Chicks did not take the regular route of public relations by responding to the criticism rather than sweeping it under the rug. They stood by each other through it all and never apologized for anything they were not sorry for. When radio stations refused to play their songs, they did not slow down…they made that part of their image too. Although bad publicity is a huge part of The Dixie Chicks legacy, their true fans remember their response to the criticism with their “rawest” album including songs such as “I’m Not Ready to Make Nice”.

After seeing the documentary “Shut Up and Sing” in class on Monday, I have to say they have earned respect in my book. Many people do not want to hear what celebrities have to say about politics or current issues. But then I ask to myself–if people really want their favorite celebrities to just simply entertain and not express their opinions, how could we have built such an empire on exposing their personal life?

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