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Is COVID-19 Changing Entertainment PR Permanently?

Over the past year, the world has adapted to the new ways of life brought forth by COVID-19. Virtual meetings, online shopping, food deliveries, and the list goes on. The internet has made life during a pandemic easier for most, but the jobs of PR professionals have become

strenuous. Due to the global shutdown, the entertainment industry has struggled tremendously, including TV, film, music, sports, Broadway, and everything in between. Celebrities, like actors and musicians cannot promote their projects like they used to, but they are finding other ways to do so. Traditional PR methods such as red carpet appearances and talk show interviews have turned into a social media playground for these celebrities. Publicists are scrambling to find opportunities for their clients, but this raises a question: will things ever go back to the way they were?

An article from The New York Times brings up some very interesting points about this topic. “Lindsay Glickstein, a talent manager and publicist whose clients include ‘Real Housewives’ stars and other reality staples, said the virtual talk show experience makes it more difficult to guide her clients through difficult conversations on-air.” Rather than having publicists prepare their clients in-person and be with them to quickly diffuse any issues that may arise, the celebrities must fend for themselves and try to remember everything they were instructed.

Social media has become the main avenue of PR throughout the pandemic. As a consumer, I’ve spent my time catching up on celebrity news via Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. From a PR perspective, I’ve found that many of these stars do a good job of showing their true personalities, but I’ve also seen some downfalls. People aren’t afraid to hold celebrities accountable or “cancel” them for their behavior. As we’ve seen over the years with social media influencers and content creators, the internet has been the primary method for posting statements or public apologies. For A-list celebrities who previously relied on traditional PR to craft their image, the internet is a new environment for them to navigate. There has been less work for publicists to do, but the job still needs to be done.

Image from The Talon

Media training has always been a major aspect of entertainment PR. One tip of advice publicists have for stars during this particular social media surge is to not say anything at all. However, The Times article explains that “Content-starved tabloids and gossip sites have been relying more and more on celebrities’ social media behavior for stories, which makes it even more tempting for stars to respond to every comment about them.” It’s a sticky situation, but perhaps a lesson on appropriate social media management for celebrities could help prevent any serious damage.

Although things are looking up and the COVID-19 vaccine is bringing hope for the future of in-person events, some aspects of this new virtual way of life will inevitably stick around. Companies are holding virtual conferences remotely with employees from various locations, which is presumably something that will continue to exist. Will celebrities keep crafting their image on social media without the help of publicists? What does the future hold for entertainment PR post-pandemic? Only time will tell.


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Written by Ruth Sobey

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