When I first read the conversation between James Franco and Scottish Instagramer "begs31Mar14", I wasn't as surprised as I should have been. Celebrities do stupid things all the time. After more research, people started questioning if this was all an elaborate hoax for Franco's new film "Palo Alto." While it might be, there is one thing I can say with certainty...
Hoax, maybe. Public Relations Stunt? Not even close.
1) Targeting Audiences
The new film is directed by Gia Coppola, it is the centerpiece film of the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival. Is the target audience really Imgur users (where the Instagram pictures first appeared)? Doubt it.
Targeting incorrect, random, mass audiences is not PR.
2) Irrelevant, Confusing Messages
I’ll admit, the photos made me watch the film's trailer (which released on the same day as the conversations). From what I have gathered, it focuses on adolescent chaos. The relationship between teacher (Franco) and student (Roberts) seems to be a sub plot line anyways. So, aside from statutory rape, what is the common thread between a creepy older celebrity hitting on a 17 year-old Scottish girl on Instagram, sending awkward selfies as proof and asking if he can rent a room for her and the serious, deep, chilling character Franco seems to play in the film? Nothing.
Constructing confusing, irrelevant, messages is not PR.
What is the strategy here? This is definitely an “any publicity is good publicity” moment. How does this tell a story about the film? How does this build the credibility and reputation of the actor, or the movie? It doesn’t.
Public relations is about strategic messages and strategic relationships. Nothing is random.
Public Relations is about strategy, it isn’t about generating irrelevant coverage.
We don’t believe that “all press is good press”.
We are reputation builders, storytellers, truth seekers.
Calling Franco’s creepy stunt “public relations” is a disservice to all those great public relations campaigns out there.
In public relations, a white paper explains an organization's position on an issue. These are my opinions.
A Boston girl via Toronto. University of Toronto, Sheridan College, and Boston University alumna. Passionate about ending domestic violence. Hoping to never go a day without carbs or chocolate.