CBC internal publicists are not 'redundant'

Behind every good entertainment feature, there’s usually a good publicist.

The best publicists give you freedom to weave in and out of environments, such as movie and television sets, to do thorough reporting — as evidenced in the upcoming cover story I wrote on CBC TV’s legal drama This is Wonderland.

In all honesty, when we find a really good publicist, it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. An unfortunate number of people in media relations, ironically, have no clue on how to deal with the media. It’s all about people skills and I count my blessings when I deal with a publicist who’s actually pleasant — and just because they’re nice, that doesn’t mean we always get what we want, but when they send us away with a solid reason or a back-up story, I leave happy. It’s these kinds of publicists who get stories in the magazine and on the website.

So when I heard the news that nearly all of the publicists at the CBC were being fired at the end of June, I was disappointed because Popjournalism will soon be losing some good contacts at the network.

According to a report from The Globe and Mail, most of CBC’s radio and TV publicists will be “outsourced to independent public-relations firms.” The cuts are being done to save $860,000, CBC spokesperson Ruth-Ellen Soles told the Globe.

However, the Canadian Media Guild (CMG), who represents CBC employees, questioned the savings involved with contracting out CBC’s PR.

“We don’t understand how the CBC can possibly save money with this move,” said Lise Lareau, national president of the CMG in a statement. “We know that salaries outside the CBC for this kind of work are about the same as, or higher than, salaries inside… The CBC seems perfectly willing to give up on years of knowledge, experience and CBC-specific expertise in favour of the illusion of saving money.”

In my experience, internal publicists get the job done better than independents. This is because they have established internal contacts and are more knowledgeable about what they’re promoting — after all, they’re immersed in the programming environment. For example, I worked with two publicists on a story — one independent and the other at the CBC — and despite efforts from the independent publicist to arrange a phone call; she wasn’t able to set it up. After that frustration, I called someone at the CBC and the phone call was set up the same day.

Notably, the number one Canadian TV network, CTV, considers internal publicists essential and we work with a number of great people there, too.

From everyone here at Popjournalism, I wish the 35 “redundant” CBC publicists the best of luck in their future endeavors.

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