Lois Smith, a retired Hollywood publicist and “PR Powerhouse,” spoke at the College of Communication’s Cinematheque on February 5. James Verniere, film critic for the Boston Herald, accompanied Smith as the moderator for the interview.
Smith, founder of public relations firm PMK/HBH, shared her experience with students, professors and local film enthusiasts. She compared her experience to the role of publicists today. Unlike today, Smith believes the publicist of the past valued “client-principal honesty.” She explained the importance of telling your clients they are doing something wrong, and not letting the developed “friendship” get into the way of business. The job of a publicist is to “take a talent and take it where it wants to go.”
Smith briefly touched upon her relationships with some of her clients, but greatly emphasized the importance of good relationships between publicists and the press. While acknowledging publicists of today have a much greater access to the press, she reflected on the “fewer, but more personal relationships” during her time in the industry, reminding the attendees that honesty is key to the business.
In 2003, Smith was awarded the Les Mason Award for lifetime achievement by Publicists Guide. She fostered talents including Meryl Streep, Martin Scorsese, Whitney Houston and Robert Redford.
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