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Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I once read somewhere that a celebrity is “someone who spends their whole life trying to get attention, and when they finally get it, spend the remainder of their lives running away from it.”  As ironic as it may seem, this definition resonates clearly with the current trends in the entertainment industry and attitudes of the people we hail as celebrities. 

John Dumelo and Fred Nuamah have managed to keep a very positive public relations record
The celebrity culture in Ghana until recently, was hardly evident. Few years ago, most “famous” showbiz persons hardly warranted a glance or recognition from passers by on the streets. However the current influx of corporate sponsorships and improvement in the quality of life of the GH celebrity has led to the emergence of a loved and admired celebrity community and culture in the country.

Despite the advent of a popular celebrity culture, Ghanaian celebrities are noted to be extremely timid and shy once the cameras are positioned on them.  Thus, despite the possibilities, the industry lacks the glitz, the glamour and wow factor of other industries elsewhere, even in nearby Nigeria.  As a result, I find it very paradoxical, therefore, that most local celebs are unable to deal with the limited exposure that the local industry showbiz scene holds.

It is interesting to note that, often, up and coming celebrities tend to be very accommodating of the media and seem more than eager to take every opportunity they are given to get some media exposure for themselves. Ironically, once, fame and fortune beckons, they begin to lose all sense of discipline and control in their relationship with the media.

To a certain extent, these transformations can be understood. It is a well noted fact that, the pressures of fame and attention can be difficult to bear most of the time. Nonetheless, celebrities must be aware that, the loss of their freedoms and privacies is the price to pay for the perks and privileges that fame offers.

Last weekend, there was an intriguing controversy between a prominent entertainment weekly and actress, Yvonne Nelson. According to the editor of the paper, the former had disrespected the paper’s news reporter and refused to grant him a phone interview due to what she referred to as negative publicity she had received from the paper’s reportage over her supposed affair with Nollywood leading man, Jim Iyke. 

According to sources, the said reporter had phoned Yvonne to ask a few questions concerning the upcoming launch of her initiative to help prevent Glaucoma infection in the country. The ensuing conversation, forced the paper’s editorial team to withdraw its planned front-page publication which had been aimed at promoting the actress’ project as well as celebrate her meteoric rise to fame in the movie industry. Sadly, what should have been a great PR move for a very laudable project and her career was flushed down the drain by a few minutes of absurdity.

This is not the very first time that the actress, has been embroiled in a hullabaloo involving the media. Months ago, she was blacklisted by most entertainment newspapers and websites for what was described as “uncouth and insulting remarks” she made about a publication that had circulated in the media concerning her inability to pay the fees for her tuition at Central University. Suffice to say, the young actress, does not have a very good public relations record.

Sadly, she’s not the only one. Most local celebrities seem to fall in this category. Even the likes of upcoming leading lady, Martha Ankomah and new kid on the block, Juliet Ibrahim, seem to have been caught up in the wave of negative publicity.  In the case of the Martha, she is noted to have blatantly attempted to rubbish and refused to answer a fairly relevant question from a prominent journalist during the press premiere of a movie she had starred in. In the end, the movie, suffered a spate of negative publicity as more emphasis was placed on her behavior than the merits of the movie she had featured in.

Most celebrities fail to understand the implications of their actions on their careers, public perception, their personal lives and the growth of the industry as a whole.  

Industry pundits have named various reasons for this growing trend. A school of thought, comprising entertainment journalists, attribute it to the general lack of discipline and control of celebrities in the industry; whiles others believe, the current crop of celebrities are too young and not matured enough to handle the pressures and responsibilities that come with fame and are just unable to handle it all.  A third party, made up mostly of showbiz personalities themselves, attributes it to all to the apparent absence of ethics in news reportage in the industry.

Which ever school of thought, one may choose to side with; I have always believed that, it is a combination of all three factors and more.

Few local celebrities have got a professional management team behind them. Professional management teams may include a business manager, a personal manager / assistant and a publicist / pr person. The latter could be the most important part of any management team.

It is common knowledge that most of our celebrities tend to handle their own affairs with very few opting to have any managers and Publicists at all. Even the few, who have managers, are not getting the right services because there is no clear definition of the roles of a manager and a pr person.

 Most often, a celebrity has one person acting as publicist, business manager and personal manager. The situation created as a result, is an industry where few celebrities actually have control of whatever information about them goes out to the public through all mediums and do not have a specific plan of action for their careers, the brand and image they want to build for themselves.

In the current state of the industry, where the biggest money is to be made from attracting product endorsements from major corporate entities; this is absolutely unacceptable. What some of these celebs do not know, is that, Corporate outfits select brand ambassadors based on public perception of the celeb as well as opinions of industry pundits about what they are perceived to represent as public individuals. The story is told of a popular artiste who lost out on a major endorsement deal due to what some insiders termed as his “negative brand” caused by his controversial public outbursts.

One may argue that, there is a distinct lack of people with the required skills and expertise in the industry for handling such matters effectively and as such, they have no choice but to settle for people they believe will their interest at heart, no matter their aptness or otherwise.

Whiles this has been a true observation of the situation in the industry for a while; there has recently been the emergency of highly trained and professional Public relations outfits specializing in handling effectively, the PR of showbiz personalities.

 Outfits such as TUMTUM Communications, 18.COM Multimedia, Cosmopolitan PR among others, have proven with an impressive track record of clients over the years of being able to effectively create the right hype and brand for showbiz persons whiles effectively controlling whatever information about them is circulated in the media. That excuse therefore does not hold much credence. These agencies even go as far as coaching clients on how to answer questions during interviews and appearances in the media as well as how to manage their public personas so as to win the respect, loyalty and admiration of fans and industry players.

This is what effectively separates successful showbiz personalities and brands from their counterparts and should be an integral part of building their careers.

The likes of Jackie Appiah, Luckie Lawson, John Dumelo Kofi Adjorlolo, Lynx Entertainment, Samini and others have managed to build a positive PR platform for themselves partly due to the fact that they never shy away from the cameras and seem to have embraced their position in society as public figures. It is no surprise therefore that Jackie Appiah and Samini, are widely recognized among the finest showbiz personalities on the continent, with numerous awards and honors to this effect. They are obviously the product of well thought out and executed PR plans from experienced PR teams. 

Local celebrities have got to employ the right PR teams as part of their management and learn to embrace and accept the fact that, their positions as public persons have made all aspects of their lives public property; It is therefore up to them, to either use that influence to their advantage or allow it to destroy their career ambitions and personal lives.

To be continued……………………………………………….

Watch out for Part 2 as I examine the role of the “entertainment journalist” in all the chaos in the entertainment industry.

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