by Joy Isi Bewaji
A publicist is a cheerleader; his job is to make you look good even when you have vomit all over your shirt.
In the ideal world, you (the celebrity) have great skills, many fans, and loads of money to back up the fame. In the real world however, you say all the wrong things on twitter and on the pages of tabloids, date frivolously, wear too many colours, and grapple with the reality of never having enough money.
So that’s why you need a publicist: to tell you NOT to propose to your baby mama; NOT to shag the groupie until you seize her phones and camera and hand them over to your bodyguard; NOT to be a random lay which suddenly becomes a more interesting subject than your career (or the death of it); NOT to wear those horrid lashes all the time; NOT to grace that wack magazine cover; NOT to be so thick-headed that you can’t even see a good opportunity when it slaps you in the face; and NOT to get involved in politics or sing any political jargon just for those extra bucks.
But I have heard the most ridiculous stories from different camps. I was lucky when I started, since I was coming from (being) the editor of lifestyle magazines and also running a regular page on ThisDay Arts&Review, people took me seriously. So when I approached Celebrities, in no time we become friends and not just clients.
But it’s not so for some others, as I have heard. So here are the things you should not ask of your publicist:
- DO NOT tell your publicist to go and buy your Amala! Like WTF!!!! Get a maid, send your kid, or take your butt off the chair and go get your Amala buy yourself. I was sitting in a bar with five crazy friends when one of them shared this gist. I threw my drink all over myself. It was hilarious and evil and pathetic. And the most pathetic part was the publicist actually picked up a bowl and went to the nearest buka!
- DO NOT turn your publicist into a marketer. A publicist is a cheerleader; his job is to make you look good even when you have vomit all over your shirt. He does not automatically turn your figures from N5 to N100,000. If you let him position your brand in the way it should go, then it will attract the kind of endorsements that will bring the zeros; but if you sit on your bed and judge your publicist based on the fact that Actress A is getting endorsements and you are not, then you are in for a bumpy ride. Only you can get your money, every other person on your team works with your objectives and projections.
- DO NOT turn your publicist into a 9 to 5 worker. You see, publicity demands strategy, and strategy is born out of a creative mind. If you lock your publicist in a room all day and expect that he’ll churn out all the ass-kicking ideas for your brand, you’ll be shocked to arrive at the office one day and find him masturbating in the toilet, because really, a publicist needs to breathe. He needs his time to be by himself, to take a walk–his mind does NOT operate like an automaton’s. So get a personal assistant if you want someone to stroke your ego and get you a glass of alomo bitters when your video premieres on Channel O.
- DO NOT seek the services of a publicist only when you need damage control. As a celebrity, having a publicist is a compulsory accessory – just like those hideous lashes of yours (I know, I can’t get away from those lashes female celebrities wear these days; they are so heavy they make it seem like the women have fallen asleep!). When you pick a publicist randomly from a pack to help kill bad press, it only shows how unserious your brand is. A publicist is supposed to become a part of your brand. He should speak of your brand in a way no one else (except you) can. So a damage control arrangement is void of passion or knowledge or even love for the brand, and there is only one thing that is playing in that kind of relationship – quick money. It pays the publicist but it doesn’t exactly help your brand in the long run. So quit with the stinginess and put a competent publicist on your team.
- DO NOT make your publicist a mere acquaintance. From experience, the best jobs I have done are with people who trust me enough to make me a part of their lives. That way I can speak and represent them impressively. When you shut the door and play ‘diva’ or ‘divo’ with your publicist, the only person that suffers is you. I am not saying your publicist should have spare room in your apartment, but if you treat the person with respect and give him the opportunity to feel comfortable around you and around your space, you build that chemistry that money (or lack of it) cannot break.