Last month, we took a sneak peak into the life and work of entertainment publicists. The program featured seasoned veterans from the entertainment industry who were ready to share their experiences from PMK and Amblin Entertainment. Deborah Wuliger, unit publicist, and British Reece, agency publicist, were engaging and entertaining while focusing on the differences between unit and agency publicity, as well as the different areas of entertainment public relations.
Tell us about your jobs:
Unit Publicist – Deborah Wuliger shared anecdotes about being a unit publicist:
• A unit publicist serves as a member of the production team who works on location during the development of a movie. Duties include working with local residents as well as coordinating broadcast visits and electronic press kit interviews. In addition, unit publicists assemble the biographical materials and production notes that provide the foundation of a film press kit.
• Wuliger explained unit publicists are the least like entertainment publicists of any branch. Studios require units to provide the release campaign with necessary assets and are often the exclusive insight to the development of the film. As a unit publicist, you’re the only member of the team that is not directly responsible for the film’s completion and often address concerns regarding timing and talent relations.
• Deborah’s most successful personal experiences were with the films Munich and Seabiscuit, where she was kept on through the release of the film. “For Seabiscuit, I was asked to work with the horse trade press and even worked the Triple Crown. Having the horse racing community’s support was crucial,” said Wuilger.
• One of the things Deborah likes best about unit publicity is that you work on one project at a time. The structure of your job is a lot like a freelancer, looking for projects once you’ve met the terms of your contract. In addition to being able to control the time she works on a project, Wuilger very much enjoys the travel.
Personal Publicist – British Reece provided insight about being an agency publicist:
• As an agency publicist, Brit said his job is to look after the public image of my clients. This requires balancing the needs of his client with the requests of film studios or individual projects.
• Brit said he spends a lot of time with his clients, and has learned to develop personal relationships but finds it important to keep a professional distance.
• Like most publicists, most of his job is a lot like sales – selling my clients to journalists.
How to start a career in entertainment public relations:
• The best way is to start early and start from the ground up. You can start at reception or as an assistant to learn the industry at every level and volunteer at events. The best way to get into the industry is to expand your network and experiences within the industry. As an assistant publicist you can also get hands-on entry-level experience.
• Unlike other professions, there is no common formula for how to break into the industry. Being a self starter, especially in unit publicity, is particularly valuable.
• Listening skills and the ability to read people are crucial qualities of a strong professional. To be successful, you need to be social considering you communicate with people all day long. It’s all about relationships and networking.
• Your network is very important and entry level positions help develop that base.
Tips for success:
• You must have a passion for your job – no matter what it is in the entertainment industry – because you work hard, sometimes odd hours, and you have to love what you do.
• The raw volume of work and long hours is a staple in most entertainment publicity careers.
• You need to pick your life. It’s hard in this industry and you may have a very different structure to your work and life than you expected.