Guest Column: Angelina Jolie to Syria’s Rescue

Angelinajolie1 150x150 Guest Column: Angelina Jolie to Syrias Rescue

PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK) for UNHCR and its association with Angelina.

Tired of reading about celebrities in US Weekly or People? Then turn to the Financial Times. The FT just ran an op-ed from Angelina Jolie, special envoy to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), co authored by António Guterres, the UNHCR High Commissioner and former Prime Minister of Portugal. Both made a plea to support Syrian refugees and the latest UN appeal drive.

This latest FT column follows Jolie’s televised visits to Syrian refugee camps, guaranteeing coverage where the plight of the refugees might not have ordinarily rated a mention. During the visits, Jolie appeared shaken and emotional; critics might say that’s no big stretch for an actress, but following up her well-publicized visits with the op-ed route was wise. No charity glamour, just simple facts and arguments.

The column summarized the situation clearly. Wearing her UN hat, Jolie got right to the point: This appeal is not just about helping refugees, but making sure help is on a sustainable footing. The FT ran a photo of the glamorous special envoy on its front page. Her co-author had to be content with a byline; presumably he doesn’t sell newspapers in quite the same way.

THE PR VERDICT: “C” (Distinctly OK) for UNHCR. Celebrity coverage is the stepping-stone for more serious follow up, but is Angelina Jolie the right celebrity?

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Choose your celebrity wisely. By pairing up with Jolie, the UNHCR got its cause more attention than it might have otherwise. But the nagging issue with Jolie is that it’s never really clear if she is smart and cool, or a wanna-be humanitarian who, in her personal life, is a bit of a loon. She has still not been able to shake off her “crazy” image, which includes an endless array of children and tattoos. (Have we forgotten the vial of Billy Bob’s blood she wore as a necklace?) Bottom line, her sincerity isn’t in doubt, but does she have the gravitas to take this issue any further?

To read Angelina Jolie’s and António Guterres’s op-ed column, click here.

What’s your opinion of the UNHCR’s choice of Angelina Jolie as representative? Give us your PR Verdict!

Sofia Loren, Vanity Fair and the Perils of Being Boring

sofia loren3 150x150 Sofia Loren, Vanity Fair and the Perils of Being Boring

The PR Verdict: "C" for Sofia Loren and her PR strategy

What to think of Vanity’s Fair’s detailed profile of Sophia Loren?  Speaking from her home in Geneva, the 77 year old confides “My life is not a fairy tale, and it’s painful still to speak about it.”  And then over multiple pages goes into astonishing detail about precisely that- her life.

Rhapsodizing about the beauty and charm of the legendary actress, the profile gushes with more prosaic detail about La Loren than anyone but the most devoted of fans need ever know.

In the age of Twitter and news alerts it’s surprising readers continue to have the attention span for  this type of fawning journalism. The article has all the hallmarks of being managed from the outset by an overly vigilant PR who successfully edited out any real color or controversy.

The PR Verdict: “C” for Sophia Loren and her PR strategy.  An article that reads more like a press pack is PR done badly. While it may be “on-message” it makes for dull reading.

The article was a snore, mitigated only by highly stylized photos and the occasional sound bite.  Going to jail for 30-days for tax evasion in 1982, Loren conceded at the time, that it was all “due to a little mistake by a tax specialist”. To engage the reader,  more of this was needed.  Being less careful, less scripted and more spontaneous might have saved this article. Sometimes PR just needs to get out of the way.

What’s your view?  Let us know. To read the article click here.