So you want to be famous?
In an age dominated by Google, Facebook, and YouTube, celebrity is no longer reserved for movie stars, athletes, and politicians. While most people will never grace the cover of OK! magazine, many will find themselves in a position where their images are being presented to the public on some platform.
And whether it’s marketing a small business, running for city council, or speaking out as a community activist, many people, through no fault of their own, fail to put their best foot forward when it comes to managing that public image.
It may be found in public relations guru Howard Bragman new book Where’s My Fifteen Minutes?.
“I take my 30 years of public relations experience and distill it into wisdom for anyone who wants to better their public image,” said Bragman, who has written articles for publications including Advertising Age, The Advocate, The Los Angeles Times, and Playboy.
“In the old days [last millennium], public images were reserved primary for high-profile people," Bragman continued. "In this new world we live in, we all have public images. And even if we don’t manage them, we still have one; it’s just not the best it can be.”
Born and raised in Flint, Mich., Bragman graduated with a B.A. in journalism and psychology from the University of Michigan in 1978. After serving as vice president in the Chicago and Los Angeles offices of Burson-Marsteller Public Relations, he founded Bragman Nyman Cafarelli (BNC) in 1989.
Under Bragman, the company went on to become one of the largest and most respected public relations firms in Los Angeles.
In 2001, BNC was purchased by Interpublic Group, one of the world’s largest holding companies for marketing companies.
In 2005, Bragman established Fifteen Minutes, a strategic media and public relations agency.
“I like to empower people,” he said. “There’s a true need for this book. If I’m having trouble keeping up with all the new media outlets and technological changes, I can only imagine what a small business person wrestles with or a community activist or an elected official. They need a starting point when it comes to understanding their own image and how to shape it, which this book provides.”
As a nationally renowned crisis counselor, Bragman has provided litigation support for a significant number of high-profile cases and individuals, including Joseph Steffan, who was kicked out of the United States Naval Academy for his sexual orientation; Monica Lewinsky’s family; and Sharon Smith in the case of Smith v. Knoller, a high-profile civil rights trial involving a tragic dog-mauling death.
“I believe that by definition, PR people are educators,” said Bragman, who is an adjunct professor of communications at the University of Southern California. “We are always educating the media about our clients, our clients about the media, and are even self-educators as we try to keep up with the latest technological advances. As adjunct professor, I have been forced to take these esoteric concepts and translate them into understandable and teachable concepts for my students.”
While the majority of his clientele are mainstream companies, Bragman has represented clients in the adult industry since the early 1990s.
Included on that list is adult novelty giant Doc Johnson.
“A few years ago, after I sold my first PR firm, Ron Braverman [chief executive of the North Hollywood-based Doc Johnson] asked if I would do his company’s PR,” said Bragman. “I’ve been at it for almost five years. Proudly, I might add. I used to say that Doc Johnson was the General Motors of the adult novelty business, but now I think they’re more profitable.”
Bragman, who is openly gay, has been active in the AIDS/HIV community, lesbian and gay civil rights, Jewish causes, and First Amendment protections.
“One thing I suggested that changed the adult industry is the little ‘Free Speech’ talk that goes in front of every adult video,” said Bragman. “That was my idea, so every guy in America can be pissed at me as they fast forward through it. But seriously, we can’t take these freedoms for granted. Reagan tried to take them away, Bush made it more difficult, and other leaders who don’t respect the First Amendment are right around the corner.
“Most guys like me who represent mainstream companies wouldn’t be working in the adult industry. But I consider it a badge of honor,” Bragman added. “I have always believed that people respect you more if you take positions and don’t pander, and I certainly take that stance throughout the book.”
For more information, visit WheresMyFifteenMinutes.com.