PR Daily reports that Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton’s infamous intern, has endured 17 years of struggle since the scandal and has now decided to open her own public relations firm.
This is sad on so many levels. Because saying one is “in PR” has a certain non-specific glamour to it, the field has often been a sort of dumping ground for the rich and underqualified. Hollywood has added to the falsely seductive PR image. There’s a long and illustrious list of TV characters, including Kim Cattrall’s Samantha Jones, and Debi Mazar’s Shauna Roberts, who have brought a ridiculous PR woman stereotype to life in a vivid way.
Ms. Lewinsky may be very bright, but what qualifies her to manage public relations for clients? I don’t know that having “not had sex” with the president is an indication for talent in the biz.
There is also the sense that, just as Hootie and the Blowfish lead singer Darius Rucker fled to country-western when his rock career careened, some choose the PR field because it seems easy to hang a shingle and get started. As if! Several years ago, armed with a degree in journalism, a phone and a computer, yes – a hearty entrepreneurial type could make a go of it. Not so today – the world of PR has changed so much in the last few years, only the smart, capable and fearless need apply.
With that said, I wish Ms. Lewinsky luck in whatever endeavor she should choose. But she might want to heed the following before proceeding down the PR path.
Do some pro bono work for an organization that helps impressionable teen girls or kids at risk, to help bolster her commitment to both the craft of PR and a cause she may have personal connection to.
Get out of the big markets. Go somewhere where her name may mean less as time has passed and she may experience more acceptance.
Or, play up her reputation and offer to handle the scandal-plagued of today with the voice of experience. Go after Gloria Allred’s clients!
Get an education. Seek out PR guidance from the pros, either in an academic setting or a few minutes’ time with names in the business. Odds are her calls would be returned.
Make the most of social media. Craft a witty blog, tweet with verve and blog. There’s a lot of learning in scandal.
I doubt we’ve heard the last of Monica, after all, we are the “land of second acts.”