The deeper I research the history of the lost Hollywood publicists, the more I feel like I’m staring down the barrel of a shotgun or looking into a dark well. Trawling through libraries, websites and text books, I have quickly realised that history, in the PR arena, is something that doesn’t get the respect it deserves, American movie history in particular.
Its protagonists are considered to be old crinklies, plodding down Sunset Boulevard on a zimmer. Celluloid history demands that everyone involved should be as glamorous as the 30’s starlets on the screen. There is no respect for the aged in Los Angeles. Current PR executives think of the old stagers as dribbling has beens, but I truly believe they should be held in much higher regard. They may not have had the sophistication needed to develop global campaigns that protected investors’ money, but there was certainly inspiration in their ideas which scares those control freaks who sit in the reupholstered seats of power.
I had dinner with some old executives at Reuters and Associated Press who were obviously battle scarred by their experiences in dealing with quirky publicists. Wounded pride makes it very difficult to get to the kernel of truth, as those who were there are reluctant to talk of those old exploits and would rather bury reputations than make them. However, odd gems will always appear and I know I’m on the right path. I just don’t want this to be seen as an old dusty museum piece, but as a bright, shiny visitor attraction. Whatever their true character, the old publicists didn’t need to have their reputation destroyed by superannuated, overpowered journalists who were more interested in a power trip than a working relationship.