PR Week

Celebrity tabloids face new competition

PR Week
May 8, 2006

By David Ward

IF RECENT HEALINES like “Brit’s baby fractures skull” or “Heather heats up with Spade” have you confused, you’re not up to speed with one of the fastest-growing media categories of the past decade: celebrity outlets.

“We’re in such a voyeuristic and celebrity-centric time right now in terms of where people seek out information on trends,” says Matt Meyerson, SVP of product placement for Beverly Hills, CA-based B/W/R, adding that this has heightened the impact of not only celebrity magazines, but also TV shows like Entertainment Tonight and Web sites like Daily Candy and

But, the celebrity-outlet boom may be slowing. Recently, Celebrity Living closed, and Inside TV was folded back into TV Guide. “There is clearly a shake-out.” Notes Christian Toksvig, CEO of the North American version of OK!, which launched last year.

Toksvig quickly adds this doesn’t mean the public is losing its appetite for celebrity news. “What’s happening is a shift away from tabloids into glossies with more glamorous content and higher production values,” he says.

Some publicists may cringe at the thought of all these outlets chasing their star clients. But Sean Cassidy, president of Dan Klores Communications, describes it as “an opportunity for celebrity clients from an image-management standpoint because there are chances for exposure.

But Cassidy, whose agency represent both celebrities and Us Weekly, adds, “On the crisis side, it can present a challenge in that there are more publications, all of whom are highly competitive with one another, looking for gossip and information.”

For the PR industry, celebrity outlets shouldn’t be seen only as opportunities for TV, music, and movie stars. As a recent episode of The Sopranos showed, “swag parties” and other ways of getting stars seen wearing your client’s products are a great way of leveraging celebrity outlets to build brand awareness.

Julia Beck, founder of Forty Weeks, which specializes in targeting the maternity and new parent market says: “I had a client mentioned on the cover of The Wall Street Journal’s Personal Journal section and listed as a source in Us Weekly the same week. The client saw greater response from Us.”

“All these magazines are great sources for my business; in some ways they’re more powerful than fashion magazines,” adds Meyerson. “Even is a celerity is seen crashing their car while wearing my client’s clothing, to me that’s still all about branding.