Publicists Are Tired of Taking Journalists' Flak

Why is it that when the media write about Hollywood publicists, cynicism creeps into the copy, even with the most positive of stories. When reporting on an important new educational program being launched by the Publicists Guild of America and UCLA Extension ("Flack Attack," Calendar, Sept. 22), David J. Fox was moved to add such cynical remarks as "the lousy image of (publicists) . . ." and "Guess who thinks they have an image problem? . . . publicists, that's who."

The short article dealt with the announcement of a trend-setting educational program for film and television publicists under way at UCLA Extension that took more than two years to develop. Its purpose is to raise the standards of the profession, as well as to provide publicists with an opportunity to improve their skills and knowledge.

Publicists have traditionally been a favorite punching bag for journalists who are embarrassed to admit that they could not function effectively without the enthusiastic cooperation of publicists.

The entertainment pages of many newspapers could not be assembled without the subtle touch of a publicist. National magazines and major newspapers have periodically tried to bypass publicists when approaching stars for interviews or researching stories. They soon discovered they could not fill their pages week after week without us and the practice failed to take hold.

There are, no doubt, a number of publicists whose behavior is something less than professional, just as there are rotten apples in all professional barrels. But it's unfair to paint us all with that same tainted brush.

When we are denigrated by people our employers believe know us best, it affects our employability. A negative story on publicists in an influential publication such as The Times causes everyone to forget that we are the people most often responsible for positioning a film or television show on its road to success.

We are the ones who help mold and package actors, performers, films, TV series, stage plays in such terms that will cause the audience to sample them. We are also responsible for the public images of the major corporations now involved in the entertainment business.

If one were to point to the one segment of the entertainment industry that has been most responsible for creating the worldwide interest in Hollywood, it has to be the fraternity of publicists.

From Hollywood's earliest days, the genius and professional integrity of the likes of veteran studio publicists Harry Brand, Howard Strickling and Perry Lieber gave birth to the legendary images of the movie moguls and their stars. The practice continues to this day.

So, please, fellas, when you're looking for someone to kick around, find new, more deserving targets. No matter how hard we try, we cannot improve our image without your help.

You don't like to be told what to write. Well, we don't appreciate being "rewritten" when it comes to our reputation and our integrity. Just tell it like it is--please!

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