A PR Pro’s Five Tips For Fame Hopefuls

Celebuzz stole a few minutes with Public Relations honcho Howard Bragman, where the industry vet dished about truth behind celebrity, image and spin.

“We all have a public image in this day of Facebook and Google,” says Bragman, author of Where’s My Fifteen Minutes?: Get Your Company, Your Cause, or Yourself the Recognition You Deserve. “If you don’t define [your image] it will will be defined for you.”

Bragman was a founding principal in Bragman Nyman Cafarelli, a leading talent and corporate publicity house. He’s since opened Fifteen Minutes, a Los Angeles-based PR house that reps the likes of Mischa Barton and Marlee Matlin.

So how can anyone, from a YouTube phenomenon to an Academy Award-nominated actor, go about that self-branding definition?

Take Note:

  1. No One Is Too Big for Publicity: While some reach heights of fame so rarefied that no rumor can penetrate their public persona, they still need a gatekeeper. Take Jennifer Aniston. “It’s a shocking amount of volume,” Bragman says of the Aniston vetting, “she’ll still need a little help. I don’t think she should’ve spent so much time talking about Brad Pitt. She should say, ‘That’s my past.'”
  2. Almost Nothing Is Spontaneous: Power couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie don’t have an official PR rep in their camp, but Bragman warns, “Don’t think that just because they don’t have a publicist lying in wait doesn’t mean that everything is just happening.” He contends the pair know exactly what their image is, and are skilled in making their lives look completely natural. Such as the “People magazine shoot. It felt very casual, but I would call it studied casual.”
  3. Paris Does Have a Legacy: “For all the heat she takes, I think Paris Hilton gets it,” Bragman says. “Initially she was famous for being famous but she’s turned that into a very lucrative, savvy brand.” Perhaps the heiress will be remembered for more than blonde extensions and serial dating, as Bragman says she’s a master of sustainability.
  4. A Crisis Shouldn’t Be a Crisis: Bragman has worked with many a publicity disaster, from Naomi Campbell to Isaiah Washington. “You have to know when you’re in a race and when you’re not,” Bragman urges. “When Mel Gibson first apologized [for anti-semitism] his apology wasn’t a very good one. He had to come back.” In other words, know when a story isn’t going away any time soon, such as one with a legal battle attached. “The example I love to use is Michael Vick and the dog fighting. He was denying that he had done anything wrong on a Friday, and Monday he was apologizing and he’d discovered Jesus.”
  5. Train Wrecks Aren’t Always Awful: Bragman once represented Paula Abdul, until parting publicly over a leaked tape on which Abdul complained about Bragman’s attentiveness. No hard feelings from Howard, however. “Paula seems to attract some pretty strange characters around her,” Bragman said of the bizarre fan suicide Abdul experienced months ago, “but I think that when the world is destroyed, Paula will be left.” That stamina, he says, is because of her wackyness—not in spite of it. “The fact that she’s this girl walking the tightrope always about to fall off, I think that’s part of the appeal.”
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