'Oma Areh and Nike Fagbule speak to Pulse on the need to hire a professional who can handle the public image of a brand.
Despite the growth of the entertainment industry and the development of structures within it, social media does not eradicate the role of publicists.
Fame comes with many great elements: there are perks like recognition, praise, red carpet, glamorous events and let’s not forget the fans. But then there’s a downside to it: there’s the unwelcome attention, invasion of privacy rumours and social media fights.
A publicist is needed to manage the public outlook of both the positive and negative sides of things.
To be clear, the role of the manager is completely different to that of the publicist. The talent manager’s job is to run the business side of things and boost the artist’s career by bringing together projects and people that align with the goals of the artist. Their job includes finding and booking events, negotiating performance fees, publicity and promotion, handling media relations, advising the artist on career decisions and ensuring projects/campaigns move smoothly.
You might have talent but this means nothing if no one knows about it. The entertainment industry is extremely competitive so it’s important to get a public relations team to help build the image of the artist and promote his/her music, movie and other projects.
Pulse Nigeria speaks to ‘Oma Areh, CEO Wildflower PR and Nike Fagbule; Chief Strategist Zebra Stripes Networks. The two top publicists in the entertainment sector clarify the job of a publicist and why they are important now more than ever.
Omah Areh: It goes without saying. An actor or musician is a brand that has access to an incredible fan base directly, it is easy to say they have direct access to fans and can say or do what they feel. That is very true but we all know what the consequences of social media fingers, they can make or break careers. A good publicist can make one rise out of something to be bigger. In crisis communications, well executed PR is the most effective tool.
When Justin Bieber had tapes of himself giving racist statements and generally misbehaving everyone predicted it was over for him. It is PR and not him that planned his next moves; from getting mentors like Usher, Snoop Dogg and Lil Wayne to give positive comments to ensuring that before the video was released, they had already crafted a narrative, he grew after that and in one year, everyone had started to love Bieber again.The most important function of PR is the organisation it gives a brand, good PR makes a brand look bigger and begin to be perceived as such.
Nike Fagbule: Yes, they are. PR will continue to be an integral part of marketing communications to be honest. It’s more than random social media posts, we have to create strategies, create content and execute in order to improve the client’s brand.
Publicists understand the technique of giving the client the appropriate image. Social media can give a person a bad image if it is not well handled. The publicist in this case understands how to get to the audience with the right captions that can drive the image of the client.
‘Oma Areh: Actors and musicians need publicists because they have become public entities and every public entity needs management in all forms including communication and perception management. They need publicists for their work to be recognised and to have control over the thrust of a conversation. I always quote Mae West "It's not just what I do, it's how I do it and how I look when I do it."
Nike Fagbule: There is a need to carefully communicate and improve a talent’s image and brand story, as their career progresses. Before I choose the talent I work with, my first move is always to identify and understand the brand direction, because this influences everything – from the music, to the outfits, tone during interviews, performances. Once we do this, it is easy for the talent to acknowledge that their role is to make the music, act great, look good and get better.
‘Oma Areh: You have to weigh first what the extent of the exposure is and calculate what the damage could possibly be (very fast by the way). Secondly you have to decide whether you can make it disappear by asking people for example to take everything down.
However, if it's gone viral, because of social media and how fast people make moral judgements, it is imperative to craft a response and make sure it's shown on the right channels. It is then key to motivate your client to ride the storm.
Nike Fagbule: This is one of the best parts of being a publicist. Crisis management differs depending on the brand, situation, talent and publicist to be honest. It’s just always best to consider all elements, especially the brand direction in crisis management and resolutions.
In a crisis, you can decide to either do something or do nothing and the interesting thing about crisis is that most times, even before starting a campaign or creating a content, you already know the potential crisis that could arise when executing, so you’ve already planned strategies on how to deal with each scenario, in advance.