PR Refugees

In the previous posting, we touched on the fact that red flags rise when a journalist senses a mettlesome PR person in the room. In Britney’s case, the pregnant pop star probably could have benefited from a savvy PR pro to help ease the way in to the interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer.

Angelina Jolie’s PR reps also appear to have stepped aside after successfully courting CNN’s Anderson Cooper for Ms. Jolie’s “first U.S. media interview” following the low-key birth of her child.

“When Angelina Jolie came into the room, just four days after returning from Namibia, she was alone. No handlers, no entourage,” Mr. Cooper reports on his blog.

The decision on how assertive a PR rep should be in a media interview situation often depends on the confidence the rep has in his or her client. Apparently, Ms. Jolie can fend for herself (though I would argue that there’s always room for improvement).

Separately, Mr. Cooper staunchly defended CNN’s journalistic integrity by denying the rumors that the cable network compensated Ms. Jolie for the interview. He cited his Time-Warner sister, People magazine, and its cash payoff to land those baby pics.

“What I do know is that CNN did not pay anything — directly or indirectly — to get Angelina Jolie to sit down for an interview.”

Perhaps not…at least on the surface, but the Jolie camp-prompted interview did come with a price tag: an agreement by the network to use the two-hour block of time to showcase Ms. Jolie’s humanitarian work in less developed countries.

Do you think ABC “Good Morning America,” “Entertainment Tonight” or even CBS “Sunday Morning” would have agreed to allocate that much of a programming block to this sobering subject in exchange for the first U.S. interview? Unlikely.

Mr. Cooper may be right in denying the existence of a quid pro quo for having Ms. Jolie on his program. But, believe me, there is a tacit agreement between Ms. Jolie’s handlers and Mr. Cooper’s producers that will minimize (but not ignore) the Namibian birth and maximize the actress’s global philanthropic endeavors.

Hence, the choice of CNN…on this day “World Refugee Day.”