John Branca — Harvard Interview — “Media”

John Branca giving insight into the importance of thinking about the media for a celebrity. Mr. Branca gives his takes on multiple instances of media representation.

John Branca: I mean, there’s always going to be somebody that disagrees with what you do or has an opinion about what you do. And you can’t always control that. But thinking about the media is very important for a celebrity.

Brian Price: So, you’d mentioned being a business advisor for clients too. So, the effect of media today with social media, how different is it than with earlier in your career? And how have you learned how to work with the media, utilize the media for whatever your aims might be?

John Branca: Well, I’m older and I would venture to say that virtually everybody in this room is probably going to be more adept at dealing with social media than I am. I’m smart enough to hire people who… who know what they’re doing. And it’s important. It’s especially important, you know, where the artist is not here to speak for themselves.

Brian Price: So, speaking about publicity, there’s positive publicity, and there’s also a negative publicity. So, when an artist faces negative publicity, what’s your role in working with the artists, counseling the artist? And if you could talk a little bit about that.

John Branca: Our experts, Jim Bates is here from the Sitrick Firm, one of the very top PR firms in the world, really. So, very important to get skilled people involved who can help shape public opinion. And to some degree, it’s what you’re trying to do is portray and convey who the artist really is, as opposed to who the press or the media think they are.

What makes it even more challenging is my senses that it used to be first amendment, the media was there to try to get the facts, you try to get both sides, you could read the New York Times or The Wall Street and you think you’re getting some effort at the truth. That’s kind of changed. I think there’s a rush for legacy media, to get readership, to get eyeballs. They’re competing with blogs, they’re competing… you know? And the… their ability to research, investigate, and vet stories, either because of laziness, lack of resources, or the rush to compete with blogs has diminished. So, what you read now in the papers can’t necessarily take it at face value anymore.

Brian Price: Without mentioning names necessarily, how do you feel with a client that you think has earned their negative publicity?

John Branca: Say that, again?

Brian Price: If you… if you’re working with a client and you perceive that they’ve actually earned the negative publicity that they’re receiving, without mentioning names (unless you want to), how do you feel about working with a client like that? And how do you as a lawyer and a counselor navigate those kinds of scenarios?

John Branca: Well, you have to separate the art from the artist. And it’s certainly possible to represent a great, great artist who maybe is not getting the kind of publicity they might want, either deservedly or not deservedly. But if you believe in the artists, still want to help them, you still want to sort of help them, you know, in their career.