“For the first two years, Harry [Clein] and I worked from the basement of his house, and we had an assistant and there were basically no overheads — and the money we made in those early years was the same amount we made when we had 20 employees and two offices 10 years later,” Bruce Feldman, a veteran film advertiser who was in the 80s, was with Cleman, one of the late Harry Clein’s top PR associates, and one of the late Harry Clein’s Hollywood partners who ran the PR agency. . “What I concluded then, and still believe to be true, is that there are two ways to be successful in the film PR business: One is to stay microscopic and fly under the radar, and the other is to become huge and become part of a larger organization. It is the people in the middle that are the ones who suffer when the going gets tough.”
Indeed, that seems to be the case during the first simultaneous strike of writers and actors in more than 60 years. With actors barred from doing interviews, attending festivals, or really anything else to promote new projects, many have opted to “take a hiatus” from their journalists (for whom they pay a monthly fee that can range from $4000 to $20,000, rather than a percentage of their income, as agents, managers, and lawyers do). As a result, midsize PR agencies are finding it particularly difficult, according to the owners of several who spoke with Hollywood Reporter. One reported that their company’s revenue was down 80% from before the strike, and some say they’re scared off at the end of the month, when customers have to tell them if they’re going to be “out of work” next month.
The consensus among owners of mid-sized companies seems to be that they can only survive without laying off employees until September or October. One store owner said, “I barely cover my operating expenses, and that’s while not paying myself, because I don’t want to fire a person. In the meantime, we are doing our best to contract new types of customers to bring in some business.”
Journalists know how to attract media attention better than anyone, but many people personally dislike journalism. That became even more remarkable when Jordyn Palos, founder/CEO of Persona PR — who represents the likes of Quinta Brunson and Justin Hartley, and a company with 12 full-time employees who work between offices on both coasts — weighed in on the strike’s collateral damage on her public Instagram. “Not many journalists will talk about this, especially not publicly,” she wrote. “We survived the Covid shutdown… kept my door open, kept the people employed in LA and NYC, paid the health insurance bills and contributed that 401k. I paid them before I paid myself, I worked more than 15 hours a day, night and weekend, to survive and keep this train moving. Now we’re being told that we can’t basically do our job. I support all strikes, I support WGA and SAG, I LOVE my clients and I want them to be well paid… But please don’t forget the mass of people outside of SAG who won’t be able to work at full capacity until these strikes are over… perhaps if enough people make noise here, we can limit the damage of these outages soon.” and
According to a source at a larger company, it’s not just SMEs that are at risk. “Even the big guys feel the same way,” said a journalist for one of the larger companies. “This is COVID again. It’s super activated.
CHEAP learned that Hollywood PR firms were invited to a Zoom meeting Tuesday morning with Pamela Greenwalt, director of communications/marketing for SAG-AFTRA, for a press conference and Q&A about the strike. Given the severity of the predicament the PR community is in, perhaps some sort of adjustment will be out there.