Thursday, 21 May 2009


My friend Ray recently shared this story about PR man Mark Borkowski, who has developed a theory that says Andy Warhol was wrong to say fame lasts for fifteen minutes. Borkowski believes it lasts for 15 months and that celebrities should do something every 15 months to stay famous. He believes he has developed a fame formula and wrote a book on the topic. I'm interested in the idea as I'm increasingly interested in the PR business, and what it might teach us in digital communications.

The historical dividing walls between different types of agencies are down. With social media growing, I increasingly encounter traditional PR agencies, online PR, and blogger outreach agencies as part of my day-to-business. Social media is earned media, rather than bought media, and for an idea to go truly viral it has to borrow from the skills honed in PR. PR is built around spreading newsworthy stories. It's all earned media.

You'll remember in a recent blog post I wrote about 50 Cent and Paris Hilton and their skill in staying relevant and in the news. The importance of this for brands was confirmed for me when I recently discovered in The London Paper she earns a fortune from the personal brand she has created for herself.

The London Paper reported that "Court documents show Paris Hilton, who has a reputation as an airhead, earns a staggering $11m (£7.3m) a year. The US socialite, 28, raked in $22m in 2006 and 2007 from "promotional duties".

Brands could learn from Miss Hilton, and her amazing ability to stay in the news and to profit from it. Buying attention through paid media to stay front of mind is still important, but earning attention to stay front of mind is now a critical skill in growing revenues.

For all you big brained digital people, watch and weep as the 'talentless lady with a talent for staying in the news' interviews Lady Gaga (and gets paid to do so by Nokia). It's mostly tiresome until lady Gaga says some really interesting stuff about media culture and our obsession with fame and then talks about Hilton's fame.


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