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Hollywood Branded In The News: A Journalist's Role With Celebrities

Stacy Jones
Stacy Jones
October 20, 2016 at 1:39 PM

3 minute read
Joining In On The Conversation

As a journalist, Billy Bush’s primary role for Access Hollywood - and The Today Show, was relationship management and building. He was often not in a position to task someone for commentary made that he possibly did not agree with. His job, as with countless journalists around the world, was to get the interviewee to be comfortable, relaxed and open. And to talk. And that can mean having the journalist join in on the banter.

And as everyone around the world now knows, Trump apparently was comfortable, relaxed and did talk - quite vulgarly in fact.   And Bush lost his job for his joining in his 'banter', leading journalists from every field to question where the line is and where job safety ends.  In this blog post, Hollywood Branded shares Jill Serjeant's Reuter's interview with our agency’s CEO, Stacy Jones, discussing Billy Bush and Donald Trump, and the real roles and responsibilities of journalists with celebrities. 

Billy Bush and Trump Reuters-1.png

From The Article...

Stacy Jones, CEO of entertainment marketing agency Hollywood Branded, said the role of celebrity journalists is to make their interviewees feel comfortable so they will open up.

"You say what gets the story to unfold. You say what gets the individual to talk. You bond. You relate. You don't alienate, lecture or vilify. You don't incite," said Jones. 

"For Bush, it is career suicide to lose a celebrity's willingness to speak to him. That's really his calling card and his meal ticket," she added.

Read the article here!

The Facts Of Being In Business Relationship Building

As anyone can attest who works in new business development at an agency, or quite frankly, anywhere where there is a relationship building element to the job, there are times when conversations can be awkward with a prospective or current client.  And even lean into areas of discomfort.  

So sitting in that business meeting or dinner and smiling politely or even - gasp - joining in on some possibly non-PC banter is often the safest route to go to make sure that "relationship" stays in existance and a bond grows.  Is it right? Maybe not. Depends on each person's own outlook.  Is it real? Definitely. It happens all the time.

So Why Agree Or Join In?

It's not because what the other individual is saying is agreeable and aligns with one's own viewpoints, but it is because the  agenda and goal of that meeting is to not alienate or drive the individual (or prospective client) away.  

And also not the time or place to deliver a lesson on manners that will ultimately lead to a poor relationship and loss of business.  

To be clear, "anything goes" is not what we are talking about here.  In the scenarios outlined - albeit something absolutely soul scorching and moralistically so in the red as to be unforgiveable - the responsibility that individual holds is to their employer -  or to their employees who depend on that new business development for job safety and growth.  The importance is placed on ensuring that the relationship is strong and will yield fruit for the business's success and growth. And to keep the doors open for future conversations.  And more relationships building.

Journalists And Celebrities

A journalist with a celebrity interview has the same responsibility to their outlet and to their craft - whether as an on air journalist or writer. They say what gets the story to unfold. They say what gets the individual to talk. They bond. They relate. They don't alienate, lecture or vilify. They don't incite. Unless they are doing an interview specifically hoping to make the individual feel at dis-ease, and box them into a corner. 

And they are living in fear right now.

Our Belief

Our opinion about what happened and what the outcome should have been may differ from yours. But it's based on decades of experience dancing around hot topics and making sure clients feel at ease.  And decades of watching journalists talk to celebrities and brands and seeing how they hustle to make the other party feel at ease.

Billy Bush was not on the bus with Trump and tasked morally or through his position to correct him - he was on the bus to encourage Trump's on air comfort and to get him to talk.  And the objective of that 2005 Access Hollywood interview fluff piece also was not to pin Trump down - it was to show NBC's star doing something (positive) to get more PR for The Apprentice.  It was supposed to be fluff and filler. Trump on a soap opera look at that! Business mogul to reality star to daytime soap cameo. It was not a major news story with teeth. For Bush, it would have been career suicide to lose a celebrity's (Trump in this case) willingness to speak to him either on air then, or in the future. After all, his ability to get them to be comfortable with hims is what is really his calling card and meal ticket.

The Future Of Journalism

So for good or bad... a line has been drawn for journalists everywhere, who will have to figure out their next move during the celebrity (and other famous people) interview process. To call to task or to join in, is the question.  Because whichever tactic is taken, biting the hand of the celebrity and risking no future interviews, or biting the hand of the media outlet by not being PC could result in the same thing - a loss of a job.   

Get Your Brand On Screen

Before you spend another dollar on traditional advertising, consider the use of product placement/brand integration in your entertainment marketing strategy. Watch our video to learn techniques to conquer common advertising challenges!

Learn how entertainment marketing engages consumers



Topics: Celebrity Partnership, Public Relations

Stacy Jones

Written by Stacy Jones

Stacy Jones, Hollywood Branded's founder and CEO, has over twenty six years of leadership experience building global entertainment branding campaigns for top Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of brands. Her career started after receiving her BFA in Theater Production & Scenic Design from the University of Arizona. Acknowledged as an expert in the field, she has appeared on CNN and MSNBC; spoken at conferences around the globe from Germany to Beijing; and has been featured in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, Financial Times, The Economist, Brandweek, Advertising Age, Variety, B&C and Mediaweek amongst others. Originally from Texas, you will still hear her ya’ll as she gathers the team for strategy planning sessions. Like all true entrepreneurs, Stacy is an adventurer at her core – having sky dived, hang glided off bi-planes, swam with crocs while rafting the Zambezi in Africa, photographed grizzly bears in Alaska, trekked Mayan ruins in Belize, explored the ocean as an avid scuba diver, and who loves owning an advertising agency where she swims with a different type of Hollywood shark on a daily basis.


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