Was there anything of note to come out of the almost 90 minutes of interviews on the red carpet before Sunday’s Oscar ceremony? All interviews were tightly managed and controlled, with PRs flanking relentlessly both sides of the stars in question. The problem? Heavy PR supervision led to indistinguishable interviews and some mighty dull TV.
The format of the red-carpet interview is set in stone: Say you are having a wonderful time (“This SOOOO amazing!”). Name the designer of the gown you have been sewn into. Thank everyone who contributed to your look, including your best friend and brilliant stylist (usually the same). Say you chose the outfit because it is simultaneously comfortable, beautiful, and, above all, a reflection of who you really are. With a wave of the hand, show the jewelry. Finally, air-kiss the interviewer farewell while talking in a voice normally reserved for teens at a birthday party. Move onto your next interview, guided by your clipboard-carrying PR heavies, and repeat. No wonder host Seth McFarlane’s patter seemed so shocking by comparison.
PRs are notorious for picking and choosing which journalists will be granted interviews – those who are friendly to their star client, stay on script, and will allow the roll call of designer names to be dropped in lieu of a decent quote. But is this good PR? Why oh why can’t someone be allowed to occasionally go off script?
THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for PRs, who just might be doing their jobs too effectively, making glittering celebrities seem positively dull.
THE PR TAKEAWAY: Leave some wiggle room for spontaneity. The most surprising thing about the Oscars was how utterly unsurprising the almost 90 minutes of interviews were before the show started. Nothing wrong with an upbeat tone, but why not have the client differentiate herself from the pack? This might mean the occasional tough interview, or even snarky comment. Sometimes the best PR is packaging the product so that all bases are covered. In other cases, when blessed with a witty, intelligent client, let the cards fall where they may. News is news when something surprises. PRs should consider giving the Twitterverse something to really tweet about.