The “SPINdustry” and “Kell on Earth”

Two Sunday nights ago I was sitting in my living room watching a brand new episode of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” when I was caught off guard by an upcoming show named the SPINdustry on E!. Produced by Kim Kardashian, the show takes an inside look at one of her best friends and publicist, Jonathan Cheban and his business partner Simon Huck and their PR firm Comman PR based in New York City.

First of all, the name of the show actually aggravates me. After four years in a prestigious journalism school, the last thing I want someone to associate my profession with is being a “spin doctor.” I feel as though PR has fought many battles to try to reverse this negative image that has been cast upon us, and yet here is a show titled the SPINdustry. My God.

Secondly, after watching the first episode I feel like they are only showing the fun side of public relations. After completing two internships and currently taking JMC 417, I know (and many of you know) that doing the actual work is not too fun. Take a look at this clip from the first episode where Simon and Jonathan take the newbie into a meeting with Mel B (Scary Spice).

SPINdustry w/ Mel B

Now I realize that this is show is heavily edited to make things come across differently, but I doubt convincing a celebrity to endorse a product is THIS easy. To me, I feel like they came into the meeting a bit unprepared without any background knowledge or visuals to show the possible client. What do you guys think?

Another show that has been running for the past few weeks is called “Kell on Earth” on the Bravo Network. Kelly Cutrone is the founder of People’s Revolution, a fashion, branding and marketing firm based in New York City. Recently, Whitney Port from the MTV show, The City, has worked with Kelly Cutrone thus the spinoff into Kelly’s own TV show. I think this show does PR a little more justice when it comes to showing how much work really goes into one client. It shows the day-to-day struggles that her employees go through just to write press releases, send out invitations and setting up model castings.

Kelly Cutrone is definitely a “real” person in the sense that she says whatever is on her mind. Take a look at this trailer from YouTube: watch?v=TtCAW_7TLV4

All in all, I think that shows like SPINdustry and Kell on Earth are giving people mixed messages with what it really is to work in the PR world. On one show is makes out our industry to be so glamorous and glitzy and on the other show it shows a “rough and tumble” view of the fashion PR world. Do any of you watch these shows? What do you guys think of each one? Do you think that SPINdustry is showing the glamorous side of PR which intrigues many people to pursue the career? Do you think this is accurate?

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13 Responses to The “SPINdustry” and “Kell on Earth”

  1. kwashburn says:

    I agree, the title really aggravates me as well. It seems to me that perhaps the producers, directors and writers of this show are not very educated in what PR really is. Or they choose to completely “spin” what the job actually entails. This is why our profession has a dark shadow cast on it…because of people who don’t really know what public relations is, or they choose to look at the unethical side of it. Like you mentioned, many shows only showcase the fun and exciting events, such as fashion shows and parties. This is really misleading to anyone who wants to enter the world of PR because they are in for a rude awakening. Like we talked about in class, event planning is not glamorous. In fact, it is stressful and tiring, and you often don’t even get to go to the event that you planned. Great blog, I think this is a huge problem and I don’t agree with how PR is portrayed.

  2. hhoma says:

    I, too, watched the first episode of Spindustry last weekend and agree with a lot of what you said. Although when it came to the meeting with Mel B, I don’t think that they were unprepared; Instead, I think they had worked the deal out with her prior to taping their meeting, so that the deal would occur flawlessly on camera. They probably had to get Mel B to first agree to go on camera for the show, and then they most likely told her in advance what they would be taping. I’m not an expert, but I’m almost positive that reality TV shows need to get approval by celebrities, businesses, and others before putting them on TV. This leads me to believe that very little of it is actually “reality,” and therefore, the way PR is portrayed doesn’t seem real either. Although I must admit that if I had seen this show a few years ago, prior to actually studying PR, I probably would have believed that it was an accurate portrayal. In fact, I remember seeing a show years ago about the modeling industry, and the PR job that was displayed on that show seemed glamorous to me and probably had something to do with my decision to pursue PR. I’m glad that I now know about all the stress and not-so-glamorous aspects of PR, so that I’m not shocked when I enter into the real world after graduation!

  3. dolson says:

    Ask yourself: what is the message the producers of these shows want to send? What is the motivation for choosing this portrayal of PR? Maybe they want people to come work in PR (although showing only the glamor will attract the wrong kind of people) but using a name like “SPINdustry” gives me the impression that they aren’t taking the work seriously. If this is how Cheban and Huck view their work, then shame on them. If this is what the show’s producers want, shame on them, and on Cheban and Huck again for letting them get away with it.

    “Kell on Earth” could attract people to PR, for all the right reasons. And maybe that is the goal. If C & H want fame hounds, then their show will bring them in. Cutrone wants responsible hardworking people, and if someone is attracted to the work despite all the hardship the show portrays, then good for them.

  4. a_hundza says:

    How funny that you posted this. I was just at dinner with friends a few days ago and they brought up “SPINdustry”. The discussion continued with how they assumed I was going into this glamorous, amazing life upon graduation in May. I looked at them with such a face, and then asked when they’d ever seen me have it that easy and glamorous with anything I’ve done in interships, jobs etc. Silence.

    That was the first I had heard of the show, and I was also upset at how they portrayed PR but even moreso the name. I think that will stick with people a lot longer than the events of the show. On top of that it tells even those who are not interested in getting into PR “what PR is”, so they will forever have that in their heads. After all the hard work we have done that worries me more than having people assume it’s a glamourous life.

  5. ebratkovich says:

    I’ve only seen part of one episode of the “SPINdustry” but from what I saw, I definitely think it only shows the glamorous side of PR. I also don’t think it is fair for people to assume that PR in the entertainment industry is all fun and games. You have to be a very smart, motivated and willing to deal with anything at any time type of person to deal with all of the drama and sudden changes that happen in the PR world. I admit I became interested in the PR field from watching certain shows that seemed to portray entertainment PR as just about walking celebs down the red carpet etc. but I’ve learned through my classes and coursework that there is so much more to PR than the “glamour.” I look forward to watching more episodes and I hope to catch “Kell on Earth” one of these nights!

  6. dsmith says:

    I was totally going to write about these two shows for my next post! Looks like you beat me to it. It is such a relevant topic. In my opinion both shows portray PR inaccurately. Reality television is prone to making every situation 100 percent more dramatic than it has to be. “The Spindustry” annoys me more than “Kell on Earth” because it depicts pr as strictly press driven and media related. While of course that is one part of PR, in no way is that all public relations professionals do. If that was the depth of public relations, why would there be schools and degrees solely dedicated to the profession? It totally adds to the already negative connotation that exists about pr. Another thing I found funny was the fact that the agency was promoting a brand of “couture loli pops.” Every industry including politics, financial companies, retail, non profits need and use pr. This show gives the false idea that only superficial organizations that just want to be in the news need public relations.

  7. vlumpkin says:

    I haven’t had the opportunity to watch “SPINdustry” but I have seen “Kell on Earth.” I watched a couple of Kell on Earth episodes and didn’t think the show was bad. In fact, I really liked Kelly Cutrone, the founder of PR firm People’s Revolution. One of the episodes I watched showed the interns screwing up things at the office. Another show portrayed the stress involved with putting on a major event during Fashion Week. What I didn’t like is how some people are in the public relations business with NO DEGREE while I am buried in school work.

    As a public relations student, I know what our work is about. Unfortunately, most people believe what they see on television is the way an industry works. For example, people believe that CSI depicts the criminal justice community and how it functions: not true. People want an escape from their daily lives. Would viewers really want to watch the stress of the PR world? Maybe. Viewers want the “sexy, fun” side of PR. That’s what sells, period. I think Kell on Earth, from what I have seen so far, does a good job showing both the sexy side of PR and the stressful side.

  8. acarlin says:

    I’ve never seen these shows but I’ve heard about them. This is a very good post for this class. I think the media in general portrays PR inaccurately. I understand these shows are reality TV, and therefore needs to be more dramatic than it actually is, but it’s not just these shows showing PR in a negative light. Many people think PR is just attending high-class parties and planning celebrity weddings, but it’s so much more than that. Few people know how much writing is really invloved. I agree with everyone’s comments that PR wouldn’t be a major in journalism schools if that was all it was about.

  9. alevy says:

    Sadly with reality TV, I feel it never really shows reality due to the heavy editing done to captivate viewers and keep their interest for the proceeding weeks. I also watched an episode of SPINdustry last week and it seems they want to focus on how incompetent one of their staff members are and also show the PR industry in a “fun” light. Furthermore, i do wonder the actual purpose that the producers intended for each of these shows. i do think that it is trying to portray the glamor and glitz of the industry, but I am not sure they are trying to make people pursue the career necessarily. I think instead, they just want to capture the “reality” of PR and make people interested in the daily lives of people in the industry. I agree that if viewers did base the industry off these TV programs, they would definitely be in for a rude awakening because (in my opinion) you definitely can’t base real life off what you watch of TV and PR takes a lot more hard work and critical thinking, (of course depending on your position) then what they portray on TV.

  10. cnaughton says:

    I couldn’t agree more that the these two shows only portray a tiny portion of what the PR industry really is. The name “SPINdustry” in itself says nothing positive and I agree that it is bringing up a common stereotype that the PR world still faces.

    In defense of the shows, they are created for entertainment and are not meant to educate the pubic on what PR is and what PR professionals do. However, I find that concept carries over into our lives at the local level. I think shows like these are only going to make it harder on PR practitioners as they now have now have to explain and defend the work that they do. These types of show will help to solidify the “spin doctor” stereotype for the public, which is unfortunate.

  11. cmcelroy says:

    I definitely agree that shows like these are not really giving a fair look into the PR industry. That being said, it doesn’t really bother me that much. As much as shows like these glamorize the PR industry, I’m not sure too many people take shows like this seriously. True, the title SPINdustry is a little degrading, but in all honesty, I think most people watch these shows with a grain of salt. I remember watching “The Hills” and seeing LC and Whitney “working” at Teen Vogue, and knowing for a fact that 95% of the magazine world was being left on the cutting floor. Moreover, most of the time they pick the personalities before they pick the industry or the work, so that part will always come secondary. I think that its never a good thing to have your industry misrepresented, and as PR pros we are always going to have to deal with the negative connotation that sweeps society, but I think that “reality” TV shows (and I use the term reality loosely) are not going to be changing many people’s minds.

  12. hmick says:

    I definitely agree with most of you that this show is a reality show and they have to base a lot of their content on what the viewers want to see. I’m not saying that this show bothers me to where I can’t sleep at night, but wanted to put my opinion out there that this does nothing positive for the image that public relations practitioners are battling on a day-to-day basis. I guess we all just have to keep this in mind and strive to make it our goal to show the world what the “real” PR world is about! And, hey, maybe someday they’ll make a real show about it!

  13. jmetz says:

    I agree with hhoma. I am almost positive that Mel B knew that they would be taping (SPINdustry). With all reality shows, people need to realize that it is mostly all fake. Did you ever realize on all the VH1/MTV shows they use the same mansion. I even noticed once that in one show they had earphones in their ears, probably so people can tell them what to say next. I actually enjoyed watching “Kell on Earth”. She is a very prestigious and smart women. I think that she is talented and really knows what she is talking about. I consider her a great role model. She is clearly doing it for publicity, but nothing is wrong with that (in my opinion). However, I am not a huge fan of “SPINdustry.” They are also smart, but I feel like they are taunting the industry. It does seem real, there are deadlines and constant panic, but I do not think they portray a good image for public relations and how we should be perceived.

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