Way back in the fall, I had heard about a new reality show being produced that depicted life in a public relations firm. When I learned it would follow life in a fashion agency, I was concerned about the impression it would give to young people thinking of entering p.r. as a profession. There was some online discussion about it and most p.r. pros voiced the same concern.
The show on Bravo, called "Kell on earth," seems to be as bad as I had feared. I didn't watch it last night, although I did just finish watching clips that are up on the Bravo site.
The show emphasizes some of the worst stereotypes of p.r. people. Frankly, it would make me want to go into some other line of work.
The show seems to focus on work leading up to Fashion Week here in New York. It's a high-profile event in a field with clients who can be amazingly spoiled divas (and divos). It's pressure-filled, for sure.But the clips I saw show some people at their worst. The "star" of the series, the agency principal, is seen berating employees and interns in front of the entire office. The employees seem to be in constant fear of being humiliated publicly or fired and they're always on the verge of tears.
Maybe the drama and tension of Kell's p.r. agency makes for good reality TV, but, young readers, please don't look at that as typical of work in public relations.
There are, unfortunately, many shops where little or no direction is given to young employees and where constant fear is the norm. But not all agencies are like that. Many shops have a professional and happy atmosphere.
In the p.r. world, attention to detail is critical. Multi-tasking is not unique to a fashion agency before Fashion Week. It's an everyday thing. There is pressure, imposed by deadlines and demanding clients.
I can't speak for the firm depicted on Bravo, but there are many agencies and p.r. departments where it's a real team effort, you get clear direction and caring guidance, and you don't come home crying every day. PR work can be fun, interesting, challenging and rewarding.
So watch "Kell on earth" if you want tension, screaming and needless cursing, and the sight of people being humiliated and brought to tears. But please, don't take it seriously as an indication of how most of us in this field work. Remember, it's just TV, where drama, humiliation and tears get the ratings.