In their 4.7 N.Y. Times profile of IDPR‘s Kelly Bush, Michael Cieply and Brooks Barnes run an observation about Bush from Extra‘s Lisa Gregorisch: “A lot of publicists still see their job as blocking the press — when you call they either run for the hills or lie — and Kelly is smart enough, in the age of the internet, to know that never works.”
Kelly Bush, founder and honcho of IDPR.
And thank God for that. Many publicists, in fact, are far more accessible and conversant and generally more pleasant these days than they used to be. Or so it seems. I am too, I suppose.
Back in the bad old pre-internet days of the early ’90s, when I was reporting and writing for Entertainment Weekly, and also during my mid to late ’90s reporting work for People and the L.A. Times Syndicate, 50% of my calls took several hours to be returned, and 80% of my conversations with publicists involved getting lied to or fielding half-truths that were meant to confuse or throw me off the track. Not to mention outright blocking, complaining calls to my bosses or assignment editors, etc.
It was awful. Each day was like going into combat. I felt at times as if I needed therapy to deal with it.
I’m sure that many publicists felt the same way about me and my inquiries, but I had a job to do and it was tough to keep things on a lah-lah basis. Some EW stories back then were about bringing up and writing about subjects or angles that publicists (especially personal publicists) believed would hurt or compromise their clients in some way, and it was no picnic. And sometimes the stiff-arming and stonewalling was nonsensical. And petty. I don’t want to think about it. A lot of unpleasant memories are rushing back into my head.
Why are things less strident and combative now? Because I’m not spending a lot of time making investigative calls and doing tough, shoe-leather entertainment reporting these days. HE is an opinion-and-attitude column with hindsight-and-perspective plus links-and-riffs-on-other-articles-and-reviews. I’ll chase stuff down from time to time but it’s not the same game.