Why SPINdustry Is Not PR & Wrongly Portrays the Industry #fail

****** UPDATE: Monday February 22, 2010

I had an interesting conversation with Mr. Cheban & Mr. Huck in this order…

Read for yourselves. It was unsolicited, as I never contacted them directly, until I replied to a person who tweeted me including Mr. Cheban and Mr. Huck into my tweet.

Also, I’d like to mention some things since this is apparently now a topic of conversation: I know the show is for entertainment, but I don’t appreciate how it makes my industry, my degree and the field I work in look to people on the ‘outside.’ Nor do I appreciate how it makes women in public relations appear to be nothing more than far lesser versions of poor Samantha Jones-types from ‘Sex & the City’ with the brains of a Karen Smith from ‘Mean Girls.’

xx.

******

>>>>> Original post continued below…… <<<<<

Image Belongs to SugarFactory.

You need ‘experience’ to pass out bottles of water, short black mini-skirts topped off with neon pink jackets, the keen ability to know not to put mustard in your boss’ sandwich and 4-inch stilettos to work in public relations…that is according to the ghastly new E! reality television show SPINdustry produced by Kim Kardashian.

The show is supposedly a ‘documentary’ of the celebrity public relations industry a la Command PR.

It’s more a like a mockumenatry, gah.

On August 31 of 2009 I blogged about this little show stopper when I heard it was “in the works.” I guess I was right it was going to make us all look bad, who knew?

I don’t know what’s worse — watching a new “one week” associate get Jonathan Cheban’s sandwich order wrong (oh and we get to see a grown man throw a tantrum like my 3-year baby cousin over how much he hates mustard before throwing it on the table), blurt out how she adores the Spice Girls in the middle of Cheban’s pitch to Mel B (aka Scary Spice) or this same said associate admitting on national television that she used to be a huge party animal and woke up one morning with her two front teeth missing. But yeaaa, those partyiiing dayyys are ovvver…

Where the heck did Cheban find this chick from?

Oh, but it gets even better.

Let’s move on to Simon Huck, Command PR’s vice-president, spraying his cupcake and the table around his cupcake with Windex. I am not even going to try to understand that one. But at least we know what they are inhaling…

On that note, let’s talk about Lauren, the “omg! I’m a VIP waitress from Miami” who is just dying to work for Jonathan … after meeting him at a couple of events because she “can get the work done.” She makes phone calls, is over excited, claims to have a double Bachelor’s (really?) and apparently would rather ‘coordinate’ the Sugar Factory event, rather than actually put it together … aka roll out the carpet, put up the signage etc.  like the other girls. In other words blondie just wants to stand there and look pretty. I have no other way to say it.

And let’s not even get started on one of Cheban’s associates who has been with him for over a year — apparently, she can’t do math very well because according to this shining beacon of intelligence, her ‘experience’ told her to give the paparazzi bottles of water while they waited for Mel B to arrive to the event Command PR hosted, but also she’s never been without her four-month old puppy …

Image via WeHeartIt.com

These jokers aren’t public relations and guess what — they admit it.

According to Media Bistro, there is no true client representation in Command PR and they focus on “celebrity branding” — i.e.) partnering a celebrity with brand. A prime example of this is Mel B in the first episode being partnered with Sugar Factory’s couture lollipops.

I must be of a different breed, but I seriously don’t get it.

I fail to see how a young woman who has no reason for being famous other than her father and a sex tape is so cool.

She’s so cool, in fact, that she’s considered business savvy and so business savvy that companies actually want to pay her $10,000 USD for tweeting about their products. I also fail to see how her and her folks over at Command PR represent the PR industry well, let alone understand what it really is.

And if that wasn’t enough — which of course it isn’t — need I even remind you that “SPIN” is a four-letter, bad, bad, bad word in public relations. But I suppose only people who went to school for public relations or know what they are doing would know that.

It’s practically in every Introduction to Public Relations textbook.

In case someone over at E! missed it — “SPIN” is synonymous with propaganda, Barnum and Bailey of the early 1900s and straight, asymmetrical one-way communication. In other words, that term is associated with with circus clowns exploiting the bearded lady, prodigal child with a sixth finger and the fire-breathing man from the far East.

It’s not public relations. But, yes, admittedly, it’s how the industry started, but not what it is or has grown into.

In fact, if anyone bothered to open a textbook or heaven-forbid a dictionary, they’d soon be aware of the fact that public relations is about two-way, symmetrical communication between a brand and it’s target audience. Of course, there are other facets inside of this, but that’s the major one.

Big difference.

Seven minutes in and I was unamused by this monstrosity of a television production as I was before it aired; 30 minutes later and the feeling was the same.

PRSA? President Obama? Someone? Anyone — please save my industry from parts of itself.

–

Sasha Muradali runs the ‘Little Pink Book’ . She holds a B.S. in Public Relations from the University of Florida with a minor in Dance (’07) and an M.A. in International Administration from the University of Miami (’08). She loves Twitter and all things social media, so you should find her @SashaHalima or get a copy of the ‘Little Pink Book’ delivered to your Kindle.

Copyright © 2009-2010 Sasha H. Muradali. All Rights Reserved.

Comments

  1. You go girl!!! Tell it like it is!!

  2. This post hosts many thoughts I had about this monstrous show.
    So glad you wrote about the title. Its awful, yet it depicts the show. I think these “PR shows” are portraying drama and the stupidity for more ratings. They are clearly forgetting that they are also representing themselves as well. The upper management team are as catty and incompetent as their staff. Isn't Kim their bffl? Couldn't they edit out that “background story on that one girl? This show is just like Kell on Earth, over dramatized, while unfortunately portraying the PR profession as if it is filled with unassured people.

  3. affinity_verly says

    AMEN! Hopefully, the runway for this show is a VERY short one!

  4. Thank you so much for this little breathe of fresh air! If you want to be more famous than your client, you shouldn't be in PR. Just sayin…

  5. I could not agree with you more. This show was a disgrace to the industry and just so frustrating to watch. PR has made such a valiant effort over these past few decades to prove ourselves worthy and to prove that we're not just “spin doctors”. But now, thanks to this atrocity that they call a show…we're back to square one.

  6. not to mention that in the first scene, they open the room with a girl in a skirt and a bra… and then they have the other girl mid-episode change in the workplace… It makes real female practitioners look like classless bimbos with no professional style… ugh I went to bed upset after watching that show.

  7. I really hope Jonathan Cheban gets some negative press about the way he is treating people on his Twitter account. He's calling people names and being completely offensive, whereas Simon Huck is being positive and polite to people. Wow they're 2 compltely different people.

  8. wow you must hate it when people are more creative and successful than you. thanks to you, you being so hateful towards this show will most likely boost the ratings 10 times the 2.5 million viewers that already watch it.

  9. Actually, Kristy, I don't envy Cheban & Co. one bit. I'm in the field I like, doing what I love.

    If he enjoys what he does and other appreciate him for who he is…that's his business.

    Though, I must admit I should thank him for boosting my blog's stat's today. I'm usually around 800 unique visitors per day — today I've passed 1,400.

    Best wishes,
    Sasha

  10. I've seen some of those — sad.

    Oh well, to each their own.

    Best wishes,
    Sasha

  11. “It makes real female practitioners look like classless bimbos with no professional style” — EXACTLY.

    That's just another reason I don't like the show at all. I find it offensive as a woman in the field.

  12. I hope PRSA will come out with a positive campaign that further shows growth and the positive, sensible side of PR.

  13. lol, thank you very much 🙂

  14. Only time will tell. If it's successful, more power to Jonathan. If it's not …

  15. lol, thanks 🙂

  16. I think that's the biggest problem with it — while, it's certainly made for entertainment — it portrays and unrealistic, offensive view of public relations.

    Therefore, those of us in the industry have to work harder to continuously “fix the damage.”

  17. I hate when PR is equated with “fluff.” I'm not even in PR, but I know the value of true PR as a writer and marketer. What else would we expect from E! though?

  18. Very true … we should expect nothing less from E! as their other television shows are along the same line.

    I really don't like how the show portrays the industry and really makes women in the industry seem like nothing more than far lesser Samantha Jones-types.

  19. how proud am I of you! this was an truthful, to the point review of the show. They're a disgrace to the term “public relations”. fine, it's fun show, keep it a fun show. but at least call things what they are.

  20. thanks 🙂

  21. Kristy, are you a Kim Stalker/fan? No one here is “hating” or “jealous” about anything. Who's to say Ms. Muradali isn't successful? Who cares about the number of viewers. Sasha told the TRUTH about that mockery of a show and if you can't handle it, then you have a very serious personal problem.

  22. Great post, Sasha.

    Although I have not yet seen an episode of SPINdustry – it did not air in Canada and has not made it onto any streaming sites (yikes!) – I am already worried about how the show portrays public relations.

    Cheban and Huck may be “besties” with celebrities like Kim Kardashian, but what real skill do they have? They act as the middle men for their celebrity branding business, yet why is this considered PR? As far as my quick Google searches have gotten me, they do not employ any means of traditional or social media to promote their clients or “brands.” I would really like someone in their camp to point out exactly what it is they do that is considered to be PR. Anyone?

    PS – I think this sentence is referring to Kim Kardashian, not Mel B… “A prime example of this is Mel B in the first episode being partnered with Sugar Factory’s couture lollipops.

  23. cyndyhoenig says

    Thanks for publishing this. I feel the same way about this “production.” I used to work in the celeb biz in Hollywood, and we would have been fired had we shown up to work ANY event dressed like these ladies.

  24. My favorite part of this entire post is when JonathanCheban Tweets that “PR is not brain surgery” but then goes on to say “i know u think your a doctor.” Well Mr. Cheban, PR may not be brain surgery, but at least we know how to use proper grammar. If you plan on insulting an entire industry, at least stick in the 2 extra characters and make it 'you're.' Come on, that's just embarassing!

  25. My favorite part of this entire post is when JonathanCheban Tweets that “PR is not brain surgery” but then goes on to say “i know u think your a doctor.” Well Mr. Cheban, PR may not be brain surgery, but at least we know how to use proper grammar. If you plan on insulting an entire industry, at least stick in the 2 extra characters and make it 'you're.' Come on, that's just embarassing!

  26. Absolutely loved your dissection of this show. Completely agree that this misrepresents everything PR stands for.

  27. Hi Sasha,

    While I am an advocate for controversy and can appreciate the difference of opinion in regards to our show, The SPINdustry. I (like anyone else would be in my position) am offended by reading many of the remarks made, thus I felt the need to participate in this discussion. To clarify, I got my puppy in November and it just so happens that I had not worked a red carpet in the two months that I spent with her until being asked to come out to Los Angeles. So yes, this the first time I was separated from her for longer than 4 hour time periods as most people know, you have to keep a close eye on puppies.

    As for my handing out waters to the paparazzi, of course that was not the shining moment of my entire PR career but you know what? It worked and sometimes it is the “dumb” little things that can keep things moving. I think we can all agree that a big part of public relations is about relationships, and at that moment my concern was keeping the photographers happy.

    It is also unfortunate that so many people were offended by the way I choose to get ready in the morning and to that I can only say- to each their own. The show is about the inner dramas of an entertainment PR firm in Los Angeles, not a representation of Public Relations as a whole. It is meant to be light hearted and fun and for those who can appreciate that, we are happy to have you as viewers. For those who can’t, it is absolutely your prerogative to change the channel and we thank you for watching our special!

    Best,
    Katie

  28. I haven't seen the show, but I was skeptical about its factual merit at “Kim Kardashian, producer.” It's shows like this and one very similar to it that MTV produced a few years ago that have people thinking that PR is an easy, glamorous way to get “in” with celebrities.

    Great article!

  29. I meant to comment on this sooner, needless to say I agree with you. “It's a TV show” should never be an excuse for anything, KK has a career because she starred in an amateur porn video and that is the only reason. The fact that these yahoos responded to your blog only reinforces what you wrote and gives credence to your thoughts and opinions. Congratulations, you handled the situation well, meanwhile these PR “geniuses” handled the situation with the intelligence of which is displayed on their “wonderful” program.

  30. This show turned out to be just what I thought it would. People who think they are hilarious and laugh at their own jokes but really to other people it's not funny, it's boring. They were desperate to create a plot, that was obvious because there wasn't one. And I don't believe Cheban is in PR because anyone in PR, would never go off on twitter like that even if people were being rude. It's PUBLIC relations….I was surprised how angry he was… this show will not survive, it's awful!

  31. I didn't like the fact that Mr. Cheban couldn't accept the criticisms for what they were without responding with curse words & negativity. Saying “it's not brain surgery” only furthers my reasoning for not supporting the show. While it may be true that PR is not “brain surgery”, he showed no respect for PR professionals in this industry who have worked very hard to get where they are in the field. He could have handled that way better, IMO.

  32. Based on the show thus far, and what was written in Media Bistro, not to mention what they admitted — I wouldn't consider them publicists or people in public relations to be honest. I'd actually consider them poor marketers because that's what branding it, a branch of marketing.

    One doesn't need to be 'schooled' to know that as he was so quick to point out.

    Also, no Kim is one of Sugar Factory's spokespeople as well as Mel B. In the first episode they were pitching the candy to Mel B.

    🙂 Thanks for your comment!

  33. I don't know a single PR or advertising person who could show up to work like that either…and that includes friends I have to work in beauty and fashion PR.

  34. lol — I caught that as well.

  35. thanks! 🙂

  36. I think you're referring to PoweR Girls. That was another awful show. But, in my opinion, this one is worse. At least PoweR Girls had some elements of the real industry on television…this one is just so outlandish for lack of a better term.

    Thanks!

  37. Thanks Andrew!

    I don't think “it's a TV show” is a great excuse either. If anything it's a poor defense and a severe lack of sense to get the opposing point across.

    I agree, the things he said to me and others, simply reinforce that Cheban isn't a real professional and obviously had no manners.

  38. You're absolutely right Julie. I didn't think of it like that before either. A real professional wouldn't go off the handle like that on Twitter either.

    Interestingly enough, I never prompted his first TWO tweets to me. I didn't even know he was on Twitter. Someone else @ replied me late yesterday night in SHOCK that he would say that to me. When I read more of my @ replies I found, not one, but two, unsolicited tweets from him to me.

    But whatever, to each their own. I wish him the best, even though he is a jerk. Apparently, he knows what good for himself.

  39. Hi there,

    I didn't like that either. One would think that if you were putting yourself 'out there' and throwing tantrums like a three-year old child over mustard in your sandwich, you'd have some inclination as to how people will perceive you.

    … apparently not.

    It's completely disrespectful to other public relations professionals. Not only that, but it's disrespectful to the field itself.

    I agree with you.

  40. elissafreeman says

    Clearly the tweets of these two 'characters' (or is that caricatures??) speaks volumes of their scope of intelligence. Hopefully they will go the way of most reality stars once their 15 minutes of fame flames out. Let's see who will need the REAL PR then!

  41. Hi Katie,

    How are you? Thank you for your comment and taking the time to be a professional in response to our differing opinions.

    First of all, in your defense, you are quite correct on both accounts about your puppy and the water. However, that being said, surely you can see how you were/are perceived on television?

    Keeping the photographers happy is indeed something that should have been done and you were the only person of your group to do it.

    But think about it — why were you the only person who thought of it? Something is very wrong in that scenario.

    How do you think scenes like that made other public relations professionals feel? People who have been in this field longer than you and I have been alive; people who spent money and worked hard in school on getting degrees in public relations; or even those who have loved ones in PR?

    How do you think they feel?

    I'm sure if you re-watch the show, after seeing the responses you'll see the other side of the scenario. Though, you may not agree, and you have the right not too, the answer is in the film.

    Actions speak louder than words.

    ALL of the women in your show, with the exception of Mel B and Kim Kardashian at the beginning, are portrayed to look like stupid, air-headed, skanky idiots. — Worst yet, two of them actually fit that description to the letter sans yourself.

    Whether that was the intention or not isn't the point. The point is, it's offensive to other women in public relations who will now have to counter that stereotype as well…as if the Samantha Jones and E. Monsoon comparisons weren't bad enough.

    Plus, I don't know about you — But I wouldn't feel comfortable or respected working for a man who calls himself a “professional” and slams his food down onto a table because it has mustard, goes on a tirade on Twitter cursing out everyone and anyone who disagrees with him and who furthermore, seemingly, has the inclination to want to be more famous than his clients.

    If you're okay with that, more power to you.

    Either way, I'm glad you can admit that the show isn't a representation of public relations on the whole and is isolated to that specific world of LA entertainment that Command PR specifically deals with.

    However, that being said, I'd like to also point out that if this is the case — then the show has no right to label itself as PR show… because therefore, by default it isn't.

    Either way, kudos for your taking the time to comment and I wish you the best of luck in your career.

    I can agree to disagree with you on the subject.

    Best wishes,
    Sasha

  42. lol, well said!

    I pointed out to another commenter that Jonathan's first two tweets to me were unsolicited from me. He apparently read the post (or at least I'd like to think he read the entire thing through) and decided to tweet me nasty comments 10 hours apart from one another.

    I found out about his tweets via another person who @ replied me stating how she was in shock he said the things he did.

    But, as you said, it shows just the type of person he is, who he really is and what his 'professional' decorum is really like, or lack thereof.

    Either way, thanks for your comment!

  43. I personally like Kim Kardashian, but this show is ridiculous and I agree with a lot of things you said. What is funny to me is that Command PR's response to you was that it is suppose to be entertaining and it is far from entertaining. It was borderline boring to watch and this is coming from a person who loves the E! network.

    Shows about PR professionals are almost always off the mark but I will say that Kell on Earth is one of my new favorite shows on tv. At least that show portrays the long hours and sometimes difficult to work with clients. PR is not short for PaRty and sadly, people who don't work in pr often times think it is because of the shows on TV.

  44. campbellconey says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thanks for being an intelligent, fair voice for our industry.

  45. Hi Sasha,

    I am well, thank you. I hope this post finds you the same. I can also agree to disagree with you on the subject but I thought I would forward you this review to maybe give you another perspective.

    http://www.laurenafernandez.com/blog/spindustry

    Again, I have enjoyed discussing this with you and wish you luck in the future as well.

    Best,

    Katie

  46. I have to defend the Entertainment PR Industry in LA. I worked in that “inner circle” with celebs and paparazzi for more than 15 years, and not once, not ever did we behave in the manner depicted on your show. Ever. And we did the same thing you all at Command PR do — pairing celebs with a brand. We also worked every awards show, got our clients stars on the walk of fame, covered TV tapings, and worked on films. Believe me, this show does not have a clue how entertainment PR is handled.

  47. Thanks for your insight and taking the time to comment Cyndy!

  48. You are very welcome 🙂
    Thanks for reading!

  49. Hi there,

    I personally found Command PR's response to me via Jonathan Cheban rather amusing to be honest. I've never been the type to get wrapped up into things like that and discussions such as what he prompted.

    I think it says a lot about a company's culture when the head of that said company goes on a unsolicited tirade.

    I'm not a big fan of Kell on Earth either to be frank. However, that being said, I do have a lot of respect for Cutrone because of what I know she has accomplished and her work ethic. If I had to choose between Kell on Earth and SPINdustry on what is a closer representation to the 'real' thing — I would go completely with Kell on Earth.

    and re: “PR is not short for PaRty and sadly, people who don't work in pr often times think it is because of the shows on TV.” — I agree!

  50. Hi Sasha,

    I read your comment about my blog post for Platform Magazine (we will approve it soon). Thank you so much for taking the time to read it! I'm starting to get the hang of social media, and I think I like it!

    I agree with everything you have to say about “The SPINdustry.” My biggest issue is the shows misrepresentation of the PR industry.

    I will be a college graduate in about two months, and I only hope that I get the opportunity to join the PR workforce (fingers crossed).

    I feel it's my duty to defend the industry that I will soon be a part of.

    Great job on the blog post! I plan to keep reading!

  51. 🙂 you are welcome!

  52. socialchamp says

    I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE this blog topic! Never viewed it this way until now. Thanks!!!

  53. socialchamp says

    I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE this blog topic… Thank you so much for putting light into this circus show. I thought I was the only one who felt this way after watching it and just to think I was excited about another PR show to be aired #FAIL lol

  54. I think women in PR suffer in similar ways to lawyers. It's unfortunate and baseless stereotyping. The skill of crafting good messaging of artfully representing the public and managing media is highly misunderstood. Especially the skilled women in the profession who are often far more adept than the men.

  55. Thanks for your comment. Nope, not the only one! 🙂

  56. It's a sad case … and the people in this show do not help whatsoever.

  57. I also liked this blog content

  58. I was so disappointed when I saw this show got a 2nd season. I'm so tired of people assuming this is the kind of job I spent so much tuition on!

    And I can't believe they got on your case on Twitter! Shows how charming they are. Keep fighting for us PR folks, girl! 🙂

  59. Well I say keep on writing about it!! You are ruffling some feathers so keep on doing it.

    You were even classy enough to refer to Mr. Cheban didn't even deserve this. What is up with swearing at you? Stay classy.

  60. I was just re-reading this as I finish my guest post for you and I'm angry all over again. First of all, why is it necessary to use the F word in a tweet? That's classy. Secondly, if someone has to get that defensive, well, as my mom would say…he who protests too much.

  61. Hi Gini!

    Thanks for your comment.

    You mummy was right. 🙂

    Sasha

  62. Shirley McLean says

    Well as a U.K. P.R. for many many moons – I can safely say that 'the degree' kids and 'the media'

    certificate waving bambinos – haven't got a clue!

    I have watched 'the spin crowd' and find it highly entertaining – every good p.r. would appreciate it's

    worth as 'good t.v.'

    Anyone that can say 'cheese' is aware that it must be working from a script and daft ideas – but it works as

    a fab glam distraction to the troubled world and her problems

  63. Mabel Kinster says

    You are so right!!! I worked in PR, and have a degree in PR, i am a writer now, but i worked in PR long enough to know these idiots are NOT DOING PR! They are simply endorsing products using their d lister friends.

  64. The fact that Jonathan got so rilled up and started throwing insults at you already shows he knows NOTHING about PR!!!!!!!!! He is so uncouth and juvenile – that's NOT what a PR person should be!

    And besides, why is he so undermined by your comments on a blog? It sounds to me like someone is insecure and knows inside that he's doing nothing more than celeb endorsements!

    and those skanky hos he has working for him – what 19 year old who doesn't have a college degree knows about REAL pr such as crisis management, etc? And what ex-hostess would know any better either?? Those girls aren't PR execs, they are just window dressing!! All they do is come up with lists of celebs they can call to endorse this,that and the other ………..THAT IS NOT PR!

    Jonathan is just an ugly person inside and out, without a HINT of PR decorum that every PR person possesses, and his girls are the same!

  65. I can see that — the show IS entertaining for those who find it that way. But frankly I don't.

    I have a problem with the fact that Cheban thinks its okay to tell the girls that he works for that they aren't pretty enough and need to get their lips done in order to be successful in the PR industry.

    But that's just me.

  66. Pretty much — it's some form of sad sales or publicity.

  67. lol, tell me how you really feel!

    On a serious note, in hindsight, that is a form of insecurity without a doubt. But hopefully, he will learn from his mistakes, realize his 15-minutes should hae never happened and are up and move on with life and find a fulfilling real career.

    To each their own. I feel like it takes a lot of effort to be angry and vapid, it's easier just to let things go and let things be, trusting that you are doing the right thing.

    Now if you aren't doing the right thing — as Mr. Cheban is obviously not — then that's between him and himself. The most I could do is state an opinion, which seemed to hit a nerve.

    Thanks for your candor.

  68. Woo hoo…exactly how I feel about this show! This is a super late reply to your post (Canada just started airing it now)…but in the first 10 mins i was like “You got to be kidding me right?!” and I had too turn it off. It totally makes our profession look like a joke.

  69. No worries, Elsa. Thank you for taking the time to comment on my post.

    I agree with you!

  70. No worries, Elsa. Thank you for taking the time to comment on my post.

    I agree with you!