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PROFESSIONAL PEOPLE AS BRANDS: EXPLORING THE ROLE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS APPLICATIONS IN BRANDING PROFESSIONAL PEOPLE IN TURKEY

Abstract:

Today many people are seeking different ways to develop their personal and professional brand and to enhance the values of their products or services. Although the concept of personal branding is used for all people being expert in their field, human brands research has been limited only to the context of celebrities such as sports, music and film stars. Like a film star or a politician, non-celebrity persons such as doctors, lawyers, nutritionists or businessmen handle their personal branding strategies properly to have distinctive brand equity too. When a professional person succeeds in managing his or her brand, that person is not only well known to the target audience and succeed in standing out in a crowd but also has valuable products and services corresponding pay premium for his or her well-knowness. Visibility management, press relations, saving image and reputation, being mystery and myth, being in the right place at the right time, being talent and qualified are very important things to manage a human brand professionally. In Turkey, the celebrities on the limelight are not so many professional to manage their brands. On the other hand, it can be said that the professionals and their handlers reach consensus that the artists must be talent, and also mystery. In general, the team members of musicians in Turkey consist of managers, communication consultants, producers, surveillants and bodyguards.

INTRODUCTION

Traditionally, brands have been associated with businesses, products, organizations, or services, but today researchers recognize that brands can also be human. (Fournier, 2010, Hirschman, 1987) According to Thomson (2006), human brands refer to any well-known persona who is the subject of marketing communications efforts.
Celebrities can be considered brands because they can be professionally managed and because they have additional associations and features of a brand. Features of the celebrity (attractiveness, credibility, trustworthiness etc.) all can impact on the perceived appropriateness and effectiveness of the celebrity as an endorser. (Hovland, Janis and Kelley 1953, Hovland and Weiss 1951 in Lieb, 2007)
Many researches show that when an individual perceives a celebrity as reliable and predictable, they are more likely to develop a form of loyalty to the celebrity. (Horton and Wohl, 1956, Lieb, 2007) However, the aim of this study is not to examine the dimensions of consumer-human brand attachment.
McCracken (1989) explains that modern celebrities are powerful because of their ability to embody the lifestyle aspirations of their audiences, while still conveying similarity or relevance to such audiences in terms of gender, class and status. This relevance can be real or constructed.
According to Rindova (2006) the degree of manipulation in the production of celebrity affects its extent, sustainability, and value. Whereas ‘celebrity personas’ can be entirely fabricated, resulting in ‘minor’, short-lived, or ‘flash in the pan’ celebrities, individuals with real ability and a unique style become ‘stars’, ‘superstars’, or cultural icons.
According to marketing scholars from the Consumer Culture Theory, a brand’s meaning is authored not only by those of the firm side, but also by those consuming it and/or its associated marketing messages. A brand, then, is co-created by brand managers, consumers, and cultural intermediaries such as journalists, pundits (experts), and bloggers who may have something to say about it, good or bad (Arnould and Thompson, 2005). Further, these theorists argue that once a brand is circulating in culture, it is at least partially out of the firm’s control. In other words, a brand can claim to be whatever it wants, but the marketplace will decide for itself. (Lieb, 2007)
As can be seen in Madonna brand, culture dictates that a brand must change its tactics, and sometimes even its strategy, to remain historically relevant. Nonetheless her core product is her music, what Madonna’s selling, at a strategic level, is not music, but rather female power, playfulness and sexuality. (Lieb, 2007: 49) The way a brand –for a pop star- is presented to us in all its forms-through songs, videos, magazines, clothes, or fragrances, frames the way we see and experience it.
According to Fournier and Herman (2006:44) brand portfolios could be constructed to balance risks across cultural contexts and time, as opposed to revenue-maximizing considerations of audience coverage and market reach. “Cultural context” and “time” become central considerations, displaying, to some extent, the old measures of “coverage” and “market reach”. (Lieb, 2007:134)

HUMAN BRANDS – THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

Besides celebrities today many people are seeking different ways to develop their personal and professional brand and to enhance the values of their products or services.
Although the concept of personal branding is used for all people being expert in their field, human brands research has been limited only to the context of celebrities such as sports, music and film stars. Like a film star or a politician, non-celebrity persons such as doctors, lawyers, nutritionists or businessmen handle their personal branding strategies properly to have distinctive brand equity too.
Keller’s Brand Resonance Model (1993, 2001) can be used to explain the transference of the branding process to non-celebrity brands. Keller (2001) recommends the six brand building blocks in his Brand Pyramid Model. These are salience, performance, imaging, judgments, feelings and resonance.
According to Jillapalli (2011), salience relates to non-celebrity brand awareness and how easily a consumer can recall and recognize the non-celebrity brand. Performance refers to the way the non-celebrity brand meets the functional needs of the consumers. Brand imagery deals with the extrinsic properties of the non-celebrity brand. Brand judgements are the personal opinions of the consumer and are based on the non-celebrity brand performance and imagery associations. Consumer feelings are the emotional reactions of the consumer engendered by the marketing of the non-celebrity brand. Brand resonance focuses on the nature and depth of the relationships consumers have with the non-celebrity brand.
Personal brand aspirants were generally supported by a professional team including press agencies, media advisors, personal managers, coaches etc. By virtue of non-traditional medias such as internet and social networks, aspirants can enhance their visibility using these media tools individually today.
Human brands may be classified as celebrities, experts in a specific occupation or ordinary people who are interesting and popular on public opinion. (Kotler, 2010:252) Celebrities are especially placed in music or cinema sector and they are limelight of magazine world. They are also evaluated their success with their visibility and fame.
Experts are another category in human brands so they are very famous and professional in their jobs such as doctor, businessman, dietician, politician etc.
Ordinary people as human brands such as a housewife very well on cooking or a showman successful to communicate with people are very popular today. These people have high visibility in media and are well-known by public. In general, there is no competence or qualification for being fame but public likes and follow them.
In this study, it will be examined celebrity people and their strategies for being and continuing their fame. Celebrities who are successful to manage their brands professionally have a professional team include managers, press consultants, coaches etc. It may be mentioned an industry called visibility industry for a celebrity’s team.
ul. There are ten foundation universities operating in İstanbul for ten years at least and 3887 academicians. The data used in this study are gathered from 5 universities. There are 1468 academicians in these universities. For this study, this is an obligation that these academicians is working in the current organization for 1 year at least. Upon evaluating these boundaries it has been sent 500 survey form and only 202 of these have been responded. For this study, 200 survey form have been evaluated.

SUB-INDUSTRIES TO MAKE A BRAND ANY PROFESSIONAL PEOPLE

There are a lot of sub industries in order to turn unknown aspirants into human brands. In this sub industries there are a lot of handlers such as producers, publicists, marketers, managers, photographers who imaged and managed these aforementioned aspirants professionally. In other words, these handlers act as gatekeepers of visibility, popularity and branding. Figure 1 shows the major participating sub industries whose services the industry must coordinate in order to produce and promote personal and professional brands. (Rein et al. 2006) The entertainment industry consists of all the organizations involved in producing entertainment and entertainers. (Actors, actresses, directors, producers, makeup artists, wardrobe advisors, film editors, musicians, photographers are working within it.) The representation industry includes all those who solicit for or negotiate engagements for their clients for a fee, typically a commission. Agents and personal managers are working within this industry. An agent’s most important function is to find work for the client. Agents also provide advice and coaching help so that clients become more marketable. On the other hand, the personal managers represent fewer clients than agents but do so more comprehensively. These specialists often orchestrate their clients’ complete lives. The publicity industry consists of publicists, public relations firms, advertising agencies and marketing research firms. Personal publicists many of whom were former journalists are the first celebrity promoters. PR firms that specialize in individuals take on aspirants and established stars and celebrities and provide them with access to various forms of media, event management, and marketing and other promotional opportunities. The advertising industry uses highly visible people in four basic ways: - Actors, demonstrate a product or service. - Spokespeople, promote products and services - Testimonial providers, having used a product or service in their careers - Endorsers, lending their names or likenesses to the products. Celebrities appear in 20 percent of advertisements in the United States (Solomon 2009); however, a recent Ace Metrix study found celebrity advertisements do not perform any better than advertisement without celebrities (Daboll 2011). Advertising managers may consider celebrities to be more effective as a brand owner. Celebrities who are more involved in the development of their brand extensions and the promotions of these products may be more successful than celebrity endorsers. Consumers are relating to celebrities on a more personal level, and celebrity branded products can help to make this connection. The communications industry is also a classic tool for being a human brand. Television, radio, film, newspapers, magazines and internet have each developed specialized ways to take advantage of the ever growing public interest in personalities. With image so critical to personal and professional branding, the appearance business is one of the industry’s fastest-growing components. The alteration or enhancement of appearance is now handled not merely by hairstylists and makeup artists but also by clothing stylists, color consultants image coordinators, dermatologists, and plastic surgeons. The coaching industry is also necessary for any aspirant to improve his/her skills. Aspirants can need singing, speech or sport lessons regarding their positions. The legal and business services industry is also a component of visibility industry. There are a number of issues that are critical to the management of aspirants that revolve around the issue of protection. Seeing the potential in this area, some law and accounting firms have specialized in providing services to entertainers, sports figures and politicians. Endorsement industry is a crucial for a celebrity or a star. The use of endorsements and licensing has expanded dramatically precisely because it is a powerful way for a manufacturer to distinguish its product from those offered by competitors.

Figure 1: Structure of the Visibility Industry Source: I.Rein, P.Kotler, M.Hamlin and M.Stoller, High Visibility: Transforming Your Personal and Professional Brand. New York: McGraw-Hill 2006 p.46
When a professional person succeeds in managing his or her brand, that person is not only well known to the target audience and succeed in standing out in a crowd but also has valuable products and services corresponding pay premium for his or her well-knowness.
In the celebrity industry, public relations operatives may be employed by organizations with continuing interest to protect. On the other hand, publicists may be hired by the celebrity, by their management, by a specialist publicity or public relations firm or by the production unit, network or promoter involved with the celebrity’s current project. (Turner, 2004:44) They write the press releases and secure their placement; they stage-manage the photo opportunity that will feature on news and orchestrate any personal appearances the celebrity performs; they negotiate with magazine editors about how their client will be represented in an article; they will vet the questions asked by journalists and television interviewers, and sit with their client while the interview takes place to ensure that it follows the established rules of engagement. (Turner, 2004:45)
Being a brand generally determines being a visible in public opinion. In some sense brand management of people is a visibility management. Even though it needs enhance their visibility to be a well-known people they also notice that this visibility degenerate their positions and fames. Over visibility may damage their reputation and may be it will be difficult save their mystery. Therefore, a (human) brand has to have a strategic plan how to be visible, when, where, how much he will be visible. It is crucial to realize that visibility is a very effective but subtle tool for a celebrity.
In Turkey, celebrities are especially on limelight too. But the rules of the game are very different from other countries. In this study, it was examined this circumstance through interviews with professional team members aforementioned before.

EXPLORING THE ROLE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS APPLICATIONS IN BRANDING PROFESSIONAL PEOPLE IN TURKEY

By interviewing experts who have worked directly with professional people (especially celebrities), what are some of the strategies and tactics used to promote these professionals to the public was tried to learn. It was conducted in-depth interviews with people who handle celebrities professionally and work in which they construct or reconstruct the images of these celebrities for mass consumption. Here are the questionnaires below: 1. How long have you been working in the industry? 2. Which professionals or celebrities have you worked with? 3. Could you please explain your position exactly? What are your duties and responsibilities against your clients? 4. How many people are there in your team for creating/protecting and enhancing brand image of the celebrity? What are their positions and functions? 5. Do you interfere in any celebrity’s special life/private matters you’ve worked with? 6. How do you manage the demands of interview (with reporters especially) regarding your celebrity? 7. How are your relations to press in general? 8. Have you make any public opinion research regarding your clients? 9. (According to you) What assets or attributes must a celebrity make salient to succeed? Why? 10. What do you think about imitating a star? Is this a valid (or applicable) strategy for any prospect? Why? The informants are not only limited to professional team member but also experts such as sociologists, academicians. One of them, sociologists and editor Can Kozanoğlu says that; “Celebrity, idol or star are different things… For big stars you can’t say or think that they have no qualifications but they have been big stars. Society could have needed these people and given them a quota. Among thousands people who are in this quota, there is only one or two people who have a potential to be a celebrity with his or her voice, talent, a potential to continuing an existing fame. For this people, there are exactly distinguishing things from the others…” According to Kozanoğlu, being a big brand and continuing this situation is not an ordinary case. These people have a big potential and they could have met a need in the society. As can be seen the answers were especially clustered around creating/protecting and enhancing brand image of the celebrity. Nino Varon, musician, composer and producer, came out that the quality of a product is very important to be a sustainable brand in music sector. He said that; “No good sing, no singer… Some producers made the singers sing wrong songs so these songs don’t suit to the singers…” Correspondingly, Hakan Yonat, director of pop music video and advertising, implied that this is very important to make a good thing about the job. He said that “Although you think you are not being interested in this sector, some people have begun to deal with you and your jobs. Once it happened you must be aware of this opportunity and use it properly.” As mentioned before, visibility management are crucial to manage branding process. According to Manager Serhan Lokman; “The all things belong to the artist must not be revealed on public opinion… This approach will be saved the artist to being depressive… If the artist doesn’t have any information about any subject, he or she should not say any word about it…” According to Kozanoğlu, Orhan Pamuk as a writer is a very good sample to manage his fame and visibility: “Orhan Pamuk is very successful to manage his brand. Once he write a new book, he realizes well that which media he release a speech or interview, what words and subjects he use in his interview and which sentences he emphasizes.” Press relations are another important component of brand management. The managers are very suspicious in this subject. These relations always have big risks for the celebrities and their handlers. Ahmet Can Taşdemir said that “The thing we pay attention much is that the artist whether or not handle the subject properly. The messages may be open to any manipulation. Who are these people asked questions and what do they want? This is first filtration. Managers always tend to be paranoid in this manner.” Celebrities work with professional team in Turkey too. Fehmi Ketenci, veteran magazine writer and publicist, said that “The team members of musicians in Turkey consist of managers, communication consultants, producers, surveillants and bodyguards. While the handlers were being worked in short-term abroad, they were being worked long-term in Turkey. Informants also answered the question relation to artist-manager relations. According to Taşdemir, an artist must be clear in sharing and discussing new idea with their managers. The manager is a person who decides anything with him or her artist. Managers always control him or her artist’s traffic. In Turkey, we can say that the professionals and their handlers reach consensus in the artists must be talent, and also mystery. Yonat said that, “In cinema sector, talent is exactly necessary. We say this ‘there is a film texture on him/her.’ The person who interested in cinema must be arduous worker, like visual arts, be creative and fast. Kozanoğlu said that “Orhan Gencebay – very famous artist and musician in Turkey- is a real brand. Although there is no album which yielded premium since 1982 he could continue their popularity beyond thirty years. He is very dignified, real musician and intellectual. Gencebay differs from the others with these qualifications. He refused to appear on the scene. But this situation is not being perceived as stage fright. This even transforms to a myth.” It is very important for a celebrity that being in the right place at the right time. According to Kozanoğlu, Orhan Pamuk – very famous writer- was in the right place at the right time… He is especially successful in addressing to urban, intellectual people. He knows very well that what Europian intellectuals want when they read a Turkish novel. His image breakthrough is exacty right. And of course he is very talent.” Kerem Görsev – very popular jazz musician, pianist in Turkey – said that “I’m an artist of whole etnics groups and people. The people who come to my concert may listen to me first. I sometimes change my repertoire for these people...” According to Lokman, “There is no distinction between artist and entertainer in Turkey. This is a very big problem for Turkish singers or players. For example Miles Davis is an artist. Rianna is an entertainer. Now that some celebrities are not in artist category abroad they can absolve from responsibilities. These celebrities are not assertive in being listened for years.

CONCLUSION

Human brands are very professional and popular people in society with their works, the goods and services which they produced and presented. Some of them are also called celebrity, icon or star today. Being a big brand and continuing this situation is not an ordinary case. These people generally have a big potential and they could have met a need in the society. These brands must be managed professionally by their handlers such as managers, producers, media or communication consultants and coaches. When a professional person succeeds in managing his or her brand, that person is not only well known to the target audience and succeed in standing out in a crowd but also has valuable products and services corresponding pay premium for his or her well-knowness. Visibility management, press relations, saving image and reputation, being mystery and myth, being in the right place at the right time, being talent and qualified are very important things to manage a human brand professionally. Being a brand generally determines being a visible in public opinion. In some sense brand management of people is a visibility management. In Turkey, the celebrities on the limelight are not so many professional to manage their brands. First of all they can’t balance their visibility on media, some celebrities may be very visible in media and they have always word to say to the people even they are expert on aforementioned subject. They sometimes over-exposed of media and public opinion interest. This also makes saving image and reputation difficult. In general, the team members of musicians in Turkey consist of managers, communication consultants, producers, surveillants and bodyguards. While the handlers were being worked in short-term abroad, they were being worked long-term in Turkey. On the other hand, there are a lot of celebrities who succeed in a myth or mystery his or her charismatic appearance and talent such as Orhan Gencebay, Orhan Pamuk, Tarkan. Being right place at the right time is a key strategy for Turkish celebrity too. Kerem Görsev, Hakan Aysev, Orhan Pamuk are very well to using their talents for addressing the people who wants to reach.

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