Why I Want to work in PR
I want to work in PR because I have noticed a disconnect between the world and brands. I first noticed this in the music industry... As an artist starts to gain more public attention, their connection to fans and those following their story gets less and less authentic. The separation grows and grows until, instead of feeling like they were talking to a friend, fans begin to feel like they are talking to an untouchable entity. I'm not saying that I don't want my favorite bands to gain popularity and success. Quite the opposite - I really want them to be successful just like I wish success on my own friends and family! I just don't want the connection to change. Is that even possible? I want to find out.
In our modern society where social media makes access to artists more open than ever before, you would think an artist's "image" would be more authentic too. I think for a while during the rise of Facebook and twitter, yes, that was true. But with any channel of communication, marketing and advertising weren't far behind. Now, people find rehearsed phrases and scheduled communication where they expect to find authenticity and an actual human voice. As an artist gains popularity and reach, the authentic story becomes twisted into something created by those who gain from the story's success. Executives and marketers and PR people step in to help mold the image because they are now financially invested in it. [Money rules the world. This should not be a surprise to anyone.]
Basically, what I'm saying is that, a lot of the time when I see communication from an artist, whether it's social media or an interview or even their music, I don't feel like I'm getting the real person. I feel like I'm getting a watered down version that has been passed from expert hand to expert hand until some power-that-be decides it's a pristine [plastic?] product ready for public consumption. Sure, this may be the strategy to take when it comes to manufacturing technology or other consumer products, but music and art? No, thank you. I prefer my art served fresh and authentic.
So, then why do I want to work in public relations? Surely, I would just be another one of those invisible expert hands that the "product" needs to pass through before it's released into the world. Why would I want to perpetuate the problem and be a part of the system that I so overtly condemn? Well, it's because I'm a bit of a romantic. I have hope that it can be done in a better way. I want to point out that glaring inauthenticity and I want to somehow polish away all of the rubbish layers of manufacture and release the authentic thing underneath. I have a degree in Marketing so I'm sure I have a much keener eye to know when I'm being marketed to. One extremely important less I have learned is to question everything. For all I know, this "problem" I see in the music industry may only bother me and may not be recognized. Or, the public is just so used to being marketed to every waking hour, they just expect it by now. Either way, I am still determined to find the honesty behind it.
I believe that it is possible to tell an artist's real story in a way that is both eye catching and also true to life and true to that artist's voice. Sometimes people just need help telling their story. They don't need an embellishment to a story or a story that leaves out any unsavory [read: real human] bits. They don't need to appeal to everyone and they don't need to trick the public into liking them. They just need to find a good storyteller to help them out. That's what I want to be. I want to be their storyteller that finds an awesome hook in an already awesome story. I don't want to invent some storyline to make albums sell. I want to listen to an awesome album true to an artist's sound and tell people, "Damn, you need to listen to this, and here's why".
I'll give you one example of this phenomenon that had become so obvious over the last year. One Direction. This band got so hot over the past four years because girls fell in love with attractive young boys and catchy beats. From the beginning, this group was manufactured -literally put together on stage in front of cameras with millions watching. So, not starting out very strong in the authenticity corner. But anyway. They got popular from pristine tracks that most definitely passed through hundreds of expertise hands rubbing out any scratches, covering up any cracks, and erasing any tinge of authenticity this band could have given their adoring fans. This became all too obvious to the easily swayed public when Zayn Malik, curated bad boy of One Direction left with the diluted version of why: he wanted to be a normal 20 something. With his fame, that would never be possible. Even his reason for leaving was so drenched in illegitimacy. It's so obviously a lie, why not just tell the truth? Saving face for the not-so-complete-but-still-capable-of-selling-an-album band left behind? Probably.
Months since his original departure and interviews later, we learn he was sick of the band being made into something he didn't think resembled the five guys it started out as. In short, the music wasn't real, what they said wasn't real, and the story the public had been told wasn't real. With a band that was literally manufactured in front of our eyes, we should look at the story being told to us with suspicion, but I think we still deserve the truth. Since the music entered the public eye, it becomes part of our lives whether we want it to or not. By letting this band become a part of our culture, I at least think we are deserving of a legit narrative. It's a relationship. We lend you our ears [and, for many, dollars]. So, what do we get in return? That's exactly what Zayn wasn't happy with - what they were offering up. So, he went out on his own and guess what? He's being true to who he is and we will finally [hopefully] be given some honesty.
My opinion on this is probably why indie music appeals to me in a way that mainstream music does not. This inauthenticity that bothers me is rampant in that world. I feel like the masses are being tricked into liking something that has no heart or soul behind it. I crave something real and the general public apparently craves a catchy chorus. I understand that this view is probably taking the whole idea of entertainment far too seriously and that I probably sound like a music snob. Don't get me wrong, I have been known to dance [enthusiastically] along to songs on the local Top 40 station. I just think it would be better for everyone [including the artist] to hear something authentic [I wish there was a better synonym for "authentic" so you wouldn't have to read it 5483975493 times, but I think it just accurately expresses what I'm trying to say. Sorry].
I want to work in PR because I want to help artists like Zayn tell their true story and not be forced into a narrative that's just not them. I want to put a little authenticity back into our culture. I think we deserve it.