Anyone who decides to work in the porn industry eventually learns there is a raw, hard truth in the old saying, “You get what you pay for”. When it comes to selecting an agent, publicist, or photographer: for all intents and purposes you ARE the people you associate with. Their honors and accolades reflect on you, as do their shames and misdemeanors. The good will or bad will they have built up in their business relationships can help you ascend the heights of superstardom, or make people want to never work with you!
People always seek out friends, services and resources to match their needs and tastes, but you really see this come into play when they have relocated, the way the majority of adult performer do. Folks in the adult industry find each other and form bonds. Sometimes they offer to “help”, make introductions or perform functions for one another.
And, as anyone who’s purchased a sack of ten oranges for a dollar from a Mexican family standing roadside knows, “you get what you pay for”.
The good, the bad . . . and the just plain ugly
The reality of the adult industry is that, like every other line of work, there are good guys and bad guys. When it comes to anything sex-related, it seems that a whole other level of weirdness can be expected.
On this site and over social media, we get asked all the time by adult performers how to choose a publicist.
First, bear in mind this perspective on public relations from meltwater.com
The best PR is barely noticeable as PR, and in truth, it is all around us everyday. Since PR pros outnumber journalists in the US by 4:1, it’s impossible to ignore the impact and influence that PR, and more importantly the companies they represent, have on media. In addition, it’s important to recognize the volume of noise PR pros create for journalists. Just imagine how many pitches each journalist must hear/read every day since PR pros outnumber them so greatly. As such, every PR pitch must stand out, relationships make a huge difference and successfully placing a story is MUCH more time consuming and difficult than people think. No, I’m sorry to say, PR isn’t as simple as writing a press release.
Indeed, there are any many variables involved in choosing a PR pro, but here is a good checklist:
- Choose someone who is talented, liked, and knows the adult industry well. This means someone who has established one-on-one personal relationships with people in the business, as well as media professionals, so that you won’t just find blogs posting your press releases; instead you’ll find yourself included in promotional events, interviewed for articles, or featured as ‘a performer to watch’. This can only happen when your PR rep understands you and the target media well enough to use their experience to ‘position you’ for opportunities.
- Choose someone for whom this is a career, not a sideline, and who is mentally and physically in this for the long haul. You don’t want to invest a lot of time getting them up to speed on your business and your goals, and then find they’ve decided to do something else for a living, or are about to croak from some horrible malady. This is your business!
- Because of the internet, it’s no longer strictly necessary to select someone who is physically located in porn valley year-round, but you want someone who makes the rounds of adult awards shows and feature dancing tours, who has been doing business in the trade for a long time, and who can get the right people on the phone when necessary. Which brings us to the next item on our list:
- Look at the person’s clientele, and ask around about this person’s reputation. You will be judged by the company you AND you publicist keep.
Public relations is the game of managing and influencing perception. Like it or not, in business, perception is reality.
If your publicist has a reputation like James Bartholet, regardless of whether any specific allegation is true, the fact that the claims haven’t washed away in the news cycle should tell you that people think the charges at least might be true. That’s what people in this business think about their character.
When you’re looking for professional, effective and reliable PR, here’s what you definitely DO NOT WANT:
- A publicist who has a long list of enemies, and people with whom they refuse to work for personal reasons. Your publicist is there to present YOU to the widest possible market. A publicist who can only reach a small portion of the market isn’t worth your money.
- A publicist who is constantly getting into fights on social media, OR who is allied with internet tough guys who are always getting into shit. People DO judge you from your interactions with others. If you’re a dick on social media, it indicates a serious personality flaw, and will affect the number of people who will want to work with you. Remember, your publicist’s job is not to take sides in any intra-industry political dispute; he or she is an advocate FOR YOU and YOUR CAREER.
- A publicist who is in it for the potential of sexual gratification, or attention. It’s easy to spot these creeps and lonely guys. Their M.O. is to approach performers, often newcomers, who are having some kind of drama in their lives. They’ll ask for nude pics to help build up their prey’s self esteem. They’ll work their way in by offering to “help” them out: pay for their Uber rides, be a shoulder to cry on, let them order pizza on their account. All the while, they’ve got one hand down their pants as they chat with the newcomer over the phone. This is alleged to be the Bosco approach. Other times, a PR faker will offer clients narcotics or escort gigs. These should all be huge red flags.
- Sometimes, and yes, this actually happened with one publicist out there, they will use a catfish account on Twitter in a female name to make young performers feel more at ease. The one guy I’m thinking of even chose a fake surname that just happens to be the name of one of the top talent agents in the adult industry.
Choosing a publicist
In terms of practical advice, ask other performers and business colleagues who they think highly of. Better yet, if you can, talk to members of the press. They typically loathe bad PR firms and love the good ones that make their lives easier, and they are happy to help out the good ones with a reference.
When you have some names, pick up the phone and call them. The service you get in that initial solicitation can be quite telling. Public relations is supposed to be their business. If they call you back promptly, they probably call the media back promptly and that can translate into good coverage. If they come in and give a solid, polished presentation, that’s a good sign.
There are lots of wolves in sheep’s clothing out there. Big old hairy wolves. Your best weapon in the hunt for a publicist is the wealth of information available to you with just a few phone calls to peers and adult industry professionals. Good luck and remember to watch out for the wolves.
Two-fisted reporter. That’s not my microphone, I’m just happy to see you.