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The life of a celebrity PR: Behind the glitz and glamour

Many celebs are quite comfortable in spending tens of thousands over a look that they need to don for just an hour at an event, but when it comes to PR, they want the maximum work at the lowest price, says Mona Darasing Khurana

Column The life of a celebrity PR: Behind the glitz and glamour
First Published Nov 23, 2022, 7:59 PM IST

The world of showbiz might look quite glamorous from the outside, but there is a lot that goes into maintaining that image. And a major portion of that work is done by Public Relations. While it is one of the most-fulfilling jobs ever, it is also quite a thankless one at the same time. Having been a part of this industry for over a decade, I would like to share some of my experiences with how this place functions. 

In the 11 years that I have been here, I have worked under reputed PR agencies and have gone on to build my own boutique PR agency as well, named Focus PR. While working for others, I realised that the principles they work on, fitting all clients in one mould and not thinking specifically as per their needs and vision, didn't suit my working style and agenda. Thus after dedicating over 5 years to that place, I decided to take a break from the field and took a detour to food blogging while I searched and explored new and better opportunities.

However, as fate had it, I had a run-in with Satish Kaushik, who is a dear friend and father figure to me. He was taken aback when I told him I was on a break from PR. I told him that I was doing food blogging to pay my bills, and without thinking twice, he offered me his PR to manage as an individual, not working under any agency. That confidence gave me a boost too, and that's how Focus PR started. 

Then my second client was Freddy Daruwala, who changed my perception of Bollywood actors as he offered me his PR position without even asking for my fee, and we have been working together since. This job also gave me a chance to build some precious relationships, be it with my clients or with journalists. We, as PR, act as the connection between these two professions, so it becomes important to cultivate relationships on both ends, but for me, it was never a task as it came naturally to me. I believe in treating people from my field just as fellow humans, and maybe that's why my connections have become a bit more personal. 

But as it has its pros, this job has some difficult parts as well. The toughest of them is to give a reality check to some artists who sometimes think they have already made it, but we understand the real situation and know what still needs to be done to make it better. 

Thankfully, the number of such artists is quite less, but for the ones that do have that thinking, it's easier to succumb and agree to their perspective. I feel it is a disservice to your job if you don't show them where they truly stand and what all they need to do to improve that. Sometimes clients come thinking that a few months of PR will change their career overnight, but that doesn't happen. It is a gradual process. 

At Focus PR, we don't put all our clients in a single bracket. We strategise for them according to their needs, desires and the standing they have. When you put in that extra effort, the results also show, and that is why we have been able to grow as a brand.

Also, to note, many celebs have this misconception that PRs are responsible for their work, but it isn't the case. Getting them more projects is the work of their managerial department, but sometimes even the managers forget that. Our work is to build a celeb's image; to get them work is what the managers have to ensure. 

Then also comes the most dreaded part of it, the money. Many of these celebs are quite comfortable spending tens of thousands over a look that they need to don for just an hour at an event, but when it comes to PR, they want the maximum work at the lowest price. 

I have worked with an actress who went to Cannes asking us to do her PR while there. We did that and received appreciation even from rival agencies, but on her return, she told us that she will pay our company by the day and according to what work we did. I found it so pathetic that I told her to keep the money, saying I will think I did some charity. 

And it's not just that; what also irks me is that the PRs never get their due credit. In the end credits of any film, everyone from an actor's hair, make-up, manager, spot boy or driver gets their names mentioned, but the PRs don't. And as important as everyone's work is, we also work our best to make the artists reach their audiences, but we don't get our credit. All I want is for our work to receive its due credit and respect and for celebs as well to recognise it. Till then, I will keep working hard and making sure that I give my best every day to each and every client of mine.

Mona Darasing Khurana is the founder of Focus PR and a celebrity PR consultant. Views expressed are personal.

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