Sony Music Receives Criticism for Inability to #FreeKesha

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Photo by Roy Rochlin and courtesy of Getty Images

Sony Music Entertainment Inc. is in full PR crisis mode and regrettably, there isn’t a whole lot the music corporation can do according an article by Polly Mosendz, a writer for Bloomberg Business.

Pop singer, Kesha Serbert filed a lawsuit in 2014 against producer Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald after he emotionally and sexually abused her. With the recent court decision that denied Kesha her release from her current contract, thousands of people are now bashing Sony for supporting rape with #SonySupportsRape.

Legally, Sony isn’t to blame. Serbert’s record contract is tied to Gottwald because she signed with him and his three record companies including Prescription Songs LLC, Kasz Money Inc., and Kemosabe Records LLC.

The cross with Sony comes into play because Sony Music owns Kemosabe Records, where Gottwald is CEO. Sony merely has a “music furnishing negotiation” with Kesha and isn’t in a position to negotiate directly with her contract. The article said, “the company couldn’t drop Sebert if it wanted to.”

Gottwald holds all the power. But, that doesn’t mean the public is holding back. A massive amount of support for the singer sparked on social media. The hashtags #FreeKesha and #IStandWithKesha trended on Twitter along with a petition with over 246,718 signatures to free her creative rights. Taylor Swift offered $250,000 for Kesha’s legal bills, while Lady Gaga spoke out to defend her story.

The social movement has caused celebrities and the public to question Sony’s ethics. The company has the ability to do the right thing and stand up for women’s rights. If they don’t, potential artists to the label could question its treatment toward clients because what kind of business would make another person work with his or her’s alleged abuser. It is flat out disturbing and heart wrenching.

Sony has the ability to change this PR nightmare into a dream. Its first step would be to support her and use social media, the platform that turned this issue public, and change the trending hashtag from #SonySupportsRape to #SonySupportsWomen.

Come on Sony, this is your chance to influence the music industry for the better.

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Oh Snap(chat): There is a New Challenger

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Photo courtesy of Upshot by GVL Ltd.

It’s the morning after an awesome night out on the town and you want to upload that selfie of you and Sarah from last night. But oh wait, it’s not on your phone. Now you have to wait for Sarah to wake up and send it to you. Well, not anymore.

Thanks to the app, Upshot, there’s no more waiting for your friends to send you pictures (or you being bombarded to send 48 photos to all your friends). The app does the work for you and your friends, giving you complete access to a shared camera roll for group events.

Upshot is a private photo album that allows you to autoshare pictures and videos, which then gathers them into a live stream for you and your friends.

Developed by the team who created the app, Togethera, a family photo sharing app, CEO and co-founder of Togethera, Sokratis Papafloratos, said, “It’s a way to be in the moment, because the technology is doing the sharing for you.”

Here’s a quick guide to using the app:

  1. Create an event
  2. Invite friends
  3. Turn on autoshare- your friends too.
  4. Take pictures and videos using your phones’ camera or even save Snapchats.
  5. Pictures are posted automatically to the event
  6. View, like and comment on photos and videos.

Just FYI, you can turn off autoshare anytime, but your photos won’t be uploaded to the event stream. The uploaded photos disappear after seven days. The reason behind it is that the app creator knows that “some relationships don’t last that long.”

The app also lets you and those you invite to sync photos to Facebook events. This could benefit companies who are looking to capture photos from all attendees. The public relations team wouldn’t have to sift through hundreds of photos, but could easily pick the ones they want to use.

The concept is admirable, making it known as the “snapchat for events.” But honestly, the Snapchat and Upshot are quite different. Photos aren’t individually sent to friends in the app rather they are shared to build a digital photo album.

Entertainment PR: Expectations vs. Realities

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Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Most people when they think of entertainment public relations think of celebrities, red carpet events, and paparazzi. They think it’s about meeting fancy people and wearing fancy clothes. But there is a lot more to this highly sought-after job.

The reality is that working in the entertainment industry isn’t always so glamorous. Get ready because the world doesn’t stop revolving and neither does entertainment PR. So say hello to long hours and hard work.

Public relations professionals constantly need to stay up-to-date and it’s not any different from those in the entertainment industry. “The field of entertainment is nonstop” and you may have to work weekends for a special event or write a press release during Thanksgiving.

What tasks does an entertainment PR practitioner perform?

Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Monitor news stories about clients.
  • Call and email guests and media to invite to events.
  • Book and confirm vendors, caterers, etc.
  • Check in said guests at events.
  • Create pitches, press releases and statements.

What attributes should an entertainment PR practitioner have?

  • Be detail-oriented. Remember to double, even triple check spelling because you don’t want your client, a new up-and-coming singer, to be spelled wrong by the media who cover the story.
  • Take pride in work. Put 100 percent effort into your job, no matter if it’s addressing envelopes to setting up for a pre-party, do your best work.
  • Stay calm, cool and collected. Try your best to control the inner fangirl in you to maintain a professional behavior.

What tips should an entertainment PR practitioner know?

  • Know who’s who and what they do. Be familiar with your client, nothing is worse than when you aren’t prepared.
  • Understand budget implications. Failing to mail a package on time means more money wasted on express shipping.
  • You are never a guest at an event. You have a job and it isn’t done until your boss tells you to go home.
  • DO NOT DRINK AT AN EVENT. You will get fired.

Entertainment PR has more than meets the eye. It’s an industry full of excitement and opportunities to show off your communication skills and yes, as a bonus there will be plenty of “OMG, it’s (fill in celebrity name)” moments.

Celebrity No Show at The Grammy’s

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Photo courtesy of Eddy Rissling

The 58th Annual Grammy’s went as planned, well not likely. Adele cried, Taylor Swift dissed Kanye and Lady Gaga paid tribute to the late, great David Bowie. But one such artist was nowhere to be found.

According to Gerrick Kennedy, a Los Angeles Times reporter, Lauryn Hill was a no-show. The American singer-songwriter was supposed to perform “In the Night” as a special guest with the Weeknd for the award ceremony.

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Twitter backlash from Hill’s absence at the Grammy’s.

Disappointed fans took to Twitter and Hill’s team responded with a strongly worded statement that informed the public the singer didn’t attend because the performance was last minute. It also implied that the Grammy’s announcement went without her approval. The statement continued to explain the artist’s busy schedule, leaving her little time to rehearse for the show. Hill appreciated the honor, but stressed that it was never confirmed.

The Grammy’s had a different story.

Neil Portnow, the President of the Recording Academy, said he was “disappointed that Hill didn’t make her performance at the nationally televised show.” But he also said her above statement was inaccurate. The Official Grammy ads included her as a performer and the hip-hop and R&B singer attended the Grammy’s dress rehearsal. He also insinuated that the stage was ready for her up until showtime.

The conversation didn’t stop there; Hill issued another statement that countered the Recording Academy President. It said her team made it clear that the singers would try her best to make the surprise performance but couldn’t confirm due to “logistical issues.”

It’s a constant battle between, “he said, she said” and we will never know who was right in this instance. Unfortunately, Hill’s absence hindered her relationship with the Grammy’s. But it also hampered an opportunity to engage with a wider audience. The award show allows hundreds of thousands of viewers to tune in and watch performances by artists like Hill and by her disappearance, she missed out on “brand” awareness.

I think Hill or her team should have made a better effort at speaking with representatives at the Recording Academy. This would’ve ensured that the two sides were on the same page about her whereabouts.

I also believe Hill should also reach out the Portnow and apologize for the inconvenience and confusion in order to preserve her chances of participating at future Grammy awards.

This isn’t the first time a celebrity wasn’t able to attend an award show or backed out at the last minute, but excuses like Rihanna, who had bronchitis, seemed a bit more legitimate if you ask me. I guess we will never know what the Weeknd and Hill’s mashup sounded like, but there’s always next year (if she’s invited back).

Country Music Festival Fails to Create Unique Brand

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Photo courtesy of Andrew Whalley

3 PR Tips You Can Learn From Netflix

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Photo courtesy of Helge Thomas

Netflix’s recent release of its fourth quarter earnings greatly surpassed Wall Street expectations. The company added a whopping $5.59 million total streaming members in a matter of four months. With over 70 million members in over 190 countries, it’s no wonder that Netflix is the world’s leading streaming service.Netflix offers more than 125 million hours of TV shows and movies per day, where members can watch whenever, wherever and on whatever device. The streaming service is growing, thanks to the added popularity of binge-watching, but Netflix has dealt with its fair share of bumps in the road.

Through careful examination, Netflix can provide three tips for public relations professionals.

  1. Always Be Transparent

In 2011, Netflix decided to split into two different sites, one for steaming and the other one for renting. The change caused outrage among many customers because they enjoyed both of the services provided by Netflix. Rather than being transparent about the reasons for the change and what it meant for the public, Netflix lost the trust of its customers and eventually shut down Qwikster, the DVD rental site.

Companies should remember to think about the public before implementing change because you’ll avoid backlash and help make the change easier.

2. Embrace Change

Netflix realized DVDs were not going to cut it because of the emergence of new technology. The company knew it had to stay relevant and change with the time, so it opted to add the streaming service (thank goodness it did).

The shift to the streaming market has certainly paid off and although other services like Hulu and Amazon Prime tried to compete, Netflix added more features. It began creating original content such as “Orange is the New Black”, “Breaking Bad” and “House of Cards”.

Companies should remember to stay-up-to date and follow in the footsteps of Netflix.

  1. Use Effective Damage Control

Issues will arise, no one is exempt, but knowing how to put out the fire is the real challenge.

When Netflix decided to raise its monthly membership, its stocks fell and the public once again was displeased. The company realized that it needed to focus on lost subscribers through a strategic campaign. This led Netflix to “re-recruit old customers, address consumer needs and attempt to deliver new benefits and services to make up for the price increase.” Its emphasis on previous customers rather than new ones helped the company get back on track financially.

Companies should remember to address an issue as quickly as possible, while thinking strategically about the situation at hand.

Stacey Miller, a Senior Manager of Journalist Community Engagement at Help a Reporter Out, said, “A cautionary tale can be a valuable learning tool when taken to heart.”

By following these important PR lessons and learning by example, you can help companies and clients achieve success.

Is the Film Industry “Narrow Minded”?

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Photo courtesy of Mashable

A mere 21 days until the 2016 Oscars and people are still riled up about #OscarsSoWhite. The trending hashtag blew up on Twitter as a way to reflect the lack of diversity in this year’s nomination list. Not a single non-white actor was nominated, I repeat none.

George Clooney, not too long ago, spoke out about the racial bias in the film industry but it hasn’t stopped there. In a recent article by BBC Newsbeat, Femi Oguns, a prominent British agent and African American, shared his own commentary on the issue, saying the industry “can be narrow minded.”

Why is this?

Well, it’s because out of the 6,300 people who decide who’s nominated, 94% are white and 77% are male. This obviously impacts the nominations list, but Oguns believes that it’s time for the industry to reflect the world we live in-not the world they live in.

What about other minority groups?

This is more than just a black and white issue. Latinos, Asian and Native American actors aren’t accurately represented either. In fact, only five Latinos and three Asians have ever taken home the little golden statue in the 87 years of Academy Awards’ history.

Academy CEO Dawn Hudson says, “It feels like the industry is almost at a point of crisis.”

What did the academy do?

During an emergency meeting on Jan. 21, the academy made extensive changes to its voting and recruitment rules. A new sponsorship program was installed as well, which will allow current members to help recruit new members “who represent diversity.” The academy also added three new seats to its board in an effort “to double the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020.”

The Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs was also strategic in composing a tweet with her own statement on the academy’s lack of inclusion, while providing a hopeful and more diverse future of the academy.

Academy President Statement via Twitter

So where do we go from here?

The image of the Oscars was in real jeopardy, but key messaging and immediate change implemented by the academy helped to diminish further negative outcry. The academy also made it clear that they would not wait for the industry to implement similar changes; they want to be the leaders in advocating for diversity.

I don’t think the academy would have implemented change as quickly as it had if it weren’t for the Twitter backlash. Since information and opinions can be shared so easily nowadays, I think the academy had no choice. The public momentum on social media and support from A-list celebrities, or should I say, the boycott of the event, helped to create awareness about the lack of diversity in the academy and the film industry. Luckily, the academy heard the public’s plea and is establishing more inclusion.

It’s time for people, no matter their race, gender, sexuality, age, or whatever, to have equal opportunities. The academy can only go so far, now it’s time for the film industry to hop on board and create more roles for non-white actors.