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Published on July 6th, 2020 | by Landon Buford

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Publicist Rick Krusky on the Current State of Hollywood and the Entertainment Industry 

Credit: Thorsten Overgaard.

What intrigued you to pursue a career in public relation in the first place?

I felt it aligned with my personality and skill set in many ways. I was already an entrepreneur, lived in Los Angeles, had spent most of my life in the entertainment industry and the arts, and my wife was a publicist. So when she decided to start her own firm, we just jumped in and did it together.

You have been a veteran in the industry for over 20 years. Did you and your business partner Marlan Willardson start your firm right out of college, or did you both work at a separate firm before forming MWPR?

Marlan had been on the Paramount lot doing film publicity for many years. In 2006 she decided to start her own firm. We talked about the idea of founding it together. I had been in the industry already and had a business background too, so we felt the combination of our backgrounds would be a good fit for this particular type of work.

A lot of businesses in numerous industries have been hit hard due to the COVID-19 pandemic. How have you seen the industry change during these times?

One component of our business is film premieres and other press events in Los Angeles — red carpet premieres, award shows, things like that. That all stopped completely. So that was a big change. But in terms of the other side of things, which is to say procuring press and media attention for clients, that has changed very little since COVID-19. We’re very busy on that side of things, thankfully. I know it’s been devastating for many people, so we consider ourselves very fortunate in that respect.

The virus is slated to possibly keep the public in social distancing until 2021 or longer. Most publicists in the past had the ability to get clients and media members into exclusive events. How do you think that will affect their bottom line?

Honestly, I don’t know. We’ll have to see how it plays out. As I said, the events shut down completely for the initial quarantine. But just last week there was an event that was a film premiere — “The Rental,” the directorial debut for Dave Franco. Arclight put it on at a local drive-in, adhering to social distancing protocol of course. We procured a VIP invitation for a client of ours. I thought that was an interesting way to approach a movie premiere. I would imagine there would be more events with that sort of approach. In terms of full-blown red carpet events — Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, Hollywood film premieres, I’ve heard things may start again in the fall, but I think we’ll just have to wait and see.

From your standpoint how do you see the PR industry evolving due to the pandemic?

This may be an obvious answer, but I think more and more business are going to be looking at ways to work from remote offices with remote staff. That happened to be the way I’ve run things for many years, so it was not new to me. I just kept working. But I think more firms — and even the media itself — will have to consider these sorts of business models even more than they already have. The technology these days is certainly in favor of this type of model.

You have a couple of musicians on your roster currently. How do you think the music industry will adopt moving forward?

Boy, that’s a good question. I know remote recording has become more popular in the last few years, so I could see a lot more of that. I think the biggest question is live performances and concerts. Concerts, festivals — anything involving crowds and close contact. That seems to be a bit of an unknown factor right now.

You have a well diverse roster of clients in numerous industries. What have you learned personally during the Black Lives Matter protest towards police brutality?

That there needs to be an increase of awareness on the subject — even more awareness of it than there already is. And a decrease in police brutality and tolerance of it. I sincerely hope something positive can come from this movement. BLM is important to us and our clients. We support increased awareness and justice.

What advice would you give someone that is looking to start their own firm under the current circumstances?

I think the best advice would be to explore a remote-office situation, and virtual or remote employees. Again, technology is in favor of this these days. Phones, computer, video meetings, cloud-based storage and documents, etc. The list is endless. I work with clients nationally and even internationally all the time and have for years. Honestly, I wouldn’t even say it’s the way of the “future.” I’d say it’s the way of the “now.” We’re already there. So it’s just a matter of making the adjustments to utilize it to your favor.

Rick’s Instagram (@rickkrusky): instagram.com/rickkrusky

MWPR’s Instagram (@mwprinc): instagram.com/mwprinc

MWPR’s website: mw-pr.com


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About the Author

Washington State Graduate Past Interviews include Grammy Award Winner Kenny G, David Banner, WNBA President Lisa Borders, What's Trending's CEO Shira Lazar, Ice Cube, NBC's Chicago PD LaRoyce Hawkins, Family Matters Darius McCrary, En Vogues Maxine Jones, Team USA Track & Field Member Norris Frederick, James Kyson, WNBA Great Lauren Jackson, and more.


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