Publicity Director

  • Publicity Director

Publicity, in terms of the larger marketing strategy, encompasses all free advertising gained through the mention of the product or brand through written reviews, news stories, or other radio, television, web, or print media. The director of publicity is responsible for the development of the overall publicity strategy concerning the client and is accountable for managing a staff of publicists assigned to manage the accounts of individual clients.  


As the publicity director for an entertainment company, such as a motion picture studio, this person will outline a macro strategy for generating publicity around brands and products within that organization and is ultimately responsible for the successful execution of those campaigns. The same is true when working for a PR firm that caters to entertainment companies and individual celebrities. The director achieves his or her goals by assigning appropriate staff to each account and monitoring the individual’s work in keeping with that strategy. The director will take the lead on crafting the message associated with the brand, like the release of a video game or premiere of a television series and coordinates with the individual publicists to identify media outlets best suited to capture the intended audience. Campaigns entail making contact with reporters and media personalities to generate interest in covering the product; this can include written reviews of a new film or a feature article about the leading actor.

Throughout the publicity campaign, the director will constantly review mentions of client brands and receive regular reports from staff concerning the effectiveness of strategies. Where necessary, the publicity director will augment actions of the department to increase attention to the product if mentions are weak. Sometimes, strategies also take the form of publicity stunts. No one will ever admit that a celebrity throwing a chair through the window of a broadcast network is just an attempt to drive box office gross, but the resulting rise in sales may speak for itself. Most campaigns will have a designated start and end date that are dependent on the window of the product’s launch. However, it may be within the publicity director’s responsibilities to continually support promotion of a company or individual on an ongoing basis.

Skills & Education

A college degree in marketing, public relations, or communications is necessary for a career as a publicity director, and courses should include study of advertising, communication law, entertainment business, and journalism. The individual in this role must display critical thinking skills and creativity in crafting campaign strategies based on numerous variables such as target audience, location, and market share. This person must be an effective leader who is capable of managing teams and clearly defining expectations. Strong communication skills are an obvious requirement, but the publicity director must also possess sturdy interpersonal skills in order to cultivate beneficial relationships with clients and media representatives.

What to Expect

To reach the director level within the publicity profession, prior employment as a publicist is a prerequisite. Likewise, those seeking to work with entertainment industry clients should have expertise in the areas of film and television, music, live entertainment, or similar field. Entry-level roles that can lead to opportunities as a publicist include work as an assistant within a PR firm or publicity department of an entertainment company, as well as work as a marketing representative, promotions associate, or similar role. Many publicists have some experience in journalism covering the industry, as this is excellent preparation. On the job, you can expect to encounter many difficult PR challenges, such as running interference between the press and a client who has made headlines for bad behavior, or worse, a bad review. Not all campaigns meet with immediate public enthusiasm, it is the publicity director’s job to turn all press into good press and woo reporters into begging for exclusives. 


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