Perez Hilton: Social Blogger and PR Revolutionary.

(Image via @PerezHilton)

Since his debut into the blogosphere in 2004 Perez Hilton has gone from being a relatively unknown blogger talking smack about celebrities online to a verifiable celebrity in his own right.  His blog was named, “Hollywood’s Most Hated Website on the Internet,” and now brings in millions of unique visitors each week.  Hilton is not only a celebrity blogger, but an innovator in the world of public relations. His website has become incredibly influential; with one blog post he can launch the career of an unknown musician, and sway the opinions of thousands of viewers regarding a certain celebrity. Many celebs even use Perezhilton.com to exclusively make an announcement or address a situation; he has become the face of celebrity gossip but also celebrity PR.

Mario Lavandeira, also known by his pseudonym, “Perez Hilton,” has had a successful but tumultuous career blogging about the life and scandals of musicians, models, actresses and even politicians.  He was initially known for posting pictures of celebrities and writing inflammatory comments or putting obscene drawings on their faces.  His mean and sharp-witted commentary was a harsh critique on the public lives of celebrities, and his website became a source of embarrassment and ridicule for his victims.  However, after a physical altercation in 2007 with the body guard of a famous pop star, a series of controversies involving various celebrities and an international scandal with a Miss America contestant, Hilton decided it was time to change the tone of his website.In a YouTube video, entitled, “I’m Going to Be Doing Things Differently,” Hilton announced that he would no longer put out negative, bullying or accusatory material on his blog. Not only did Perez want to change the content he was publishing on his website but he also wanted to change himself as well.   As an openly gay man, Hilton realized that by “outing,” celebrities he believed were gay, or pointedly making light of serious situations, he was no different than the bullies who victimized him growing up.

I call Perez Hilton a “PR revolutionary”  because he is an example of how a social media platform can be used to influence public perception. Perez himself was forced to publicly revamp his image and the tone of his blog due to various lawsuits, scandals and a personal crisis where he questioned his own morality.  The negative response that he received from the media helped Perez realize the impact that his blog was having on his public image, but more importantly on his personal mentality.

The “new Perez,” is much less catty than the Perez of the past, but his new focus on positivity and encouragement has helped increase the popularity of his website. Celebrities are much more willing to open up to Perez; they no longer fear having their photo appear with a scathing remark below it.  In fact,  many celebrity publicists will leak a story to Perez Hilton in order to gain press for their client.  Perez Hilton has risen far beyond social commentary and blogging, has become one of the most influential intermediaries between the public and the celebrities that fascinate them.

Should Celebrities Have Access To Twitter?

(Image via NYpost.com)

Celebrities are a big focus of my blog because they provide great examples of poor public relations. As I mentioned in one of my first posts, Twitter can give fans unprecedented access to their favorite athlete, public figure, actor, etc.  Twitters that are run by celebrities get the coveted blue check next to their name, verifying their account so you know its not an impostor.

Through Twitter you get a fairly unfiltered picture of your favorite celebrity.  The things they like, dislike, events they are promoting, music they listen to, what their dog does that makes them laugh.  You get the picture. But this free access to celebrities has repeatedly proven that maybe its not such a good idea for celebrities to run their Twitter account themselves.

Just to name a few Twitter scandals…….

1.) Chris Brown’s post-Grammy Tweet

2.) Chris Brown’s homophobic tweets circa  2011

3.) Courtney Love vs. Billy Corgan

4.) John Mayer calling his penis a “white supremacist.”

The list goes on.  A brief Google search brings up  any number of Twitter controversies between celebrities and their peers, celebrities and their fans, celebrities and their managers…..so this begs the question, should Twitter be the platform that celebrities use to post their innermost thoughts? In an article for Crushable.com entitled, “Dear PR People Stop Letting Celebrities Tweet,” Jenni Maier brings up a very valid argument. She remarks that every week there is some type of  offensive tweet put out by a celebrity that draws media attention but is then deleted quickly. Maier says, “Within 24 hours the tweets are deleted and replaced with a vague apology tweet that you just know was quickly crafted by an anxious PR person — desperate for her client not to sound racist/homophobic/ignorant/sexist.”

In a previous post I said that Twitters can be helpful in generating POSITIVE fan interaction, for example,  Lady Gaga, Britney Spears and Shaquille O’Neal. Unfortunately,  many celebrities are using their Twitter in the wrong way, resulting in embarrassing/scandalous situations.   In fact, it has almost become expected for celebrities to tweet offensive, rude, or insulting comments.   Celebrities are human too, with thoughts and feelings like the rest of us, but they need to understand that there are certain boundaries when you are in the public spotlight.

Jeremy Lin – Personal Branding Gone “Linsane”

(Image via ABCnews)

A month ago hardly anybody outside of the New York Knicks fans knew who Jeremy Lin was. A hot streak of wins and high-scoring games later Jeremy Lin is known as a clutch player, and  is now the face for all aspiring Asian basketball players, who are often unfairly  under recruited due to their race. The viral branding of Jeremy Lin has provided a few tips on how to create an authentic and lasting brand in today’s fast paced market. In William Arruda’s Personal Branding Blog, he discusses a few things that are important to remember when defining your brand.

The tips that Arruda outlines can be applied to somebody who is not an up and coming athlete or celebrity.  The thing to remember about personal branding is that everyone can create their own bran.  I found the most important tip to remember when solidfying your brand is to continue to play up your strengths. Whether your strength is that you are fluent in six languages, proficient on a computer program, an excellent persuasive speaker, it is important to define what makes you not only unique but valuable.   Jeremy Lin had always been overlooked due to his Taiwanese/Chinese heritage, and the fact that he was recruited out of Harvard University, not exactly a major basketball powerhouse.  However, these same “disadvantages,” are what makes Lin who he is; a skilled player of an underrepresented heritage in the NBA, from an Ivy League school not known for its athletics, and it is making his brand more appealing by staying true to his roots.

 

To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

(Image via mediabistro.com)

In today’s social media saturated world, you would be hard pressed to find somebody who does not have a Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or at the very least a Myspace. At the most basic level social media has completely revolutionized the way that people communicate and share their lives online. Social media platforms have similarly  changed the way that companies and celebrities interact with the public.

Twitter specifically has given fans the ultimate tool to directly communicate and sometimes even interact with their favorite celebrities.  Through Twitter you can tell Coldplay how amazing their Grammy performance was, commiserate with Kim Kardashian about her most recent break up, or tell Lil’ Wayne what you thought of his latest album. Twitter has also  helped companies, organizations and groups become more reachable by providing a channel for customers to give feedback on a product, complain about a bad experience, or applaud a recent purchase.  Establishing online communication via Twitter  has become essential for businesses and celebrities because it helps create brand loyalty.

I recently spoke with a friend who contacted a travel agency to request the online special that had been advertised though he had already purchased his travel package.  After he was denied the online rate, he took to his Twitter and complained that the special was misleading and how disappointed he was with their customer service.  Within minutes, he receieved a call from the agency’s director of hospitality who offered him an extra night free of charge for his hassle. While not every complaint is acknowledged this promptly, or as generously, this is a perfect example of how Twitter can help a business interact with its customers and establish brand loyalty at the same time.

Twitter is also useful for celebrities, who can announce apperances, special events, concert dates, important notices, and also personal messages to fans. Pop icon  Lady Gaga has a Twitter following of almost 20 million and she uses her account to communicate and receive feedback from her loyal followers. Twitter gives celebrities the opportunity to keep fans more involved in what they are doing, and when they are doing it.  Just as companies can create brand loyalty through customer communication, so too can celebrities create a loyal Twitter base through fan interaction.