Blog readers know that my coverage of celebrities is about as frequent as the presence of Kenyans in the Winter Olympics—it doesn’t happen a lot. If I’m writing about celebrities and jewelry, it’s because a major event like the Golden Globes or the Met Gala has taken place, and that seems like an appropriate time for editorial: What stars actually wear to the most high-profile events can—and does—inspire trends.
And the biggest celebrity product-placement night of the year happening this Sunday, March 2 (it’s the Academy Awards for those who have forgotten), has me thinking about the multitude of requests for press coverage that I receive in between these major events. About 95 percent of the time, these requests go unanswered. Here’s why.
Many celebrities are compensated in one form or another to wear specific pieces of jewelry, or vendors pay to get an audience in front of a star or his or her stylist: Celebs either get a paycheck to wear pieces, or they get free jewelry, or, they pay a stylist to dress them, and the stylist pulls the jewelry from a showroom that charges to be able to use their services (and designers have paid to be in that showroom). Design houses that can afford to hire a PR agency do so, and a good PR agency can wield tremendous influence with editors—particularly overworked ones and twentysomethings who are easily influenced and impressed. Indeed, the masterful spinning of pitched stories by skilled PR folks can make an editor dizzy, or just confused enough to cover something simply because someone or some firm is being paid to promote it, when in reality, newsworthiness to a readership should always be the deciding factor. (To try to stay relevant, I constantly ask my readers what they want to read.)
So, celebrity coverage is often not true editorial and should be covered sparingly; whoever has enough money to buy exposure can buy it, and that is called advertorial. That’s why I limit my celebrity coverage to big awards shows and an occasional Red Carpet to Reality, because one’s ability to buy placement does not translate into editorial merit.
Editors are supposed to abide by guidelines established by the American Society of Magazine Editors that state, among other points, that “The difference between editorial content and marketing messages must be transparent”—and most of the media releases that I receive about celebrities wearing jewelry are (of course) not marked as such, meaning that editors who receive them must read between the lines to determine merit for their own readers.
My stance on editorial merit does not mean that that stylists, showrooms, or awards suites are a negative; these avenues for exposure exist to help vendors get in to the spotlight, and I routinely recommend certain ones based on coverage secured. It’s up to the client to decide whether the exposure, if any, garnered is worth the money spent to get it. But a public service announcement to those who pitch the press: I will wait for the facts—what I see the stars wear—to surface on key awards nights before I commit to any coverage.
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