Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Famous for Being Famous

Somewhere along the way in our cynical universe the phrase, “Any publicity is good publicity” became the mantra in some quarters. In fact, it’s not true, and self-evidently so. Just ask BP, Goldman Sachs or Toyota if they’re pleased with the publicity they’ve received over the past year, and whether that publicity has made the company more profitable. Clearly, the answer is no.

But while “bad” publicity is rarely a good thing, there are a small handful of circus acts out there where Barnum’s old adage, "I don't care what you say about me, just spell my name right" still does apply. Primarily, this is reserved for those who are famous for being famous. Then, almost any publicity is a good thing.

For instance, Paris Hilton. Most of my clients (all, in fact – at least so far) would view getting busted for cocaine possession as a bad thing. But for Paris, it’s all in a day’s work. She gets coverage for the arrest; then she gets coverage for tweeting about the arrest; then she gets banned from a Las Vegas casino; then there’s the court appearance; then she gets publicity for the time honored Mick Jagger/Paul McCartney Denied Entry to Japan stratagem. It’s practically endless, but all feeds into her unending quest to be famous and talked-about (er, tweeted about).

For Paris, the “bad” publicity actually pays off, in a diversified, far-flung business empire which includes nightclubs, cosmetics, a clothing line, an energy drink (at least at one time), a best-selling autobiography published when she was 24 and, last, but certainly not least - herself! Paris reportedly gets hundreds of thousands of dollars just to show up at parties.

“If it's in Japan, I get more,” she once said. Great work.

So, yes, there are rare instances where any publicity is good publicity. But not many, and not if you take yourself seriously. Because unless you’re Paris Hilton, a rapper/gang-banger, Mike Tyson or PT Barnum, there are a lot of ways to get publicity that isn’t good, and is actually harmful. I wouldn’t recommend any of them.

Posted by David Preston

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