For a long time I have thought about answers to a simple question: Why are publicists so mean?

Exhibit A: I attend a folk concert to write a review for a local arts website. Its my first time to get free tickets in return for writing, so I don’t actually call the publicist to confirm that they will have (two) tickets waiting for me. At the box office (table in a high school hallway), the person barks “Who are you? What are you writing for?” Finally they give me the tickets with a huge sigh and a few chastising words about “following up”. I decide I’ve had enough humiliation and slink away in defeat.

Exhibit B: The intern-turned-publicist at the book publisher I worked for as an editorial assistant/receptionist is 5 or 6 years younger than me. In her emails to other people ie media contacts she refers to me as “my assistant” or “my intern”. She gets bitchy when I don’t write press releases fast enough for her liking, although she rarely deigns to tell me when the books are being released. She likes all her phone calls screened and announced. However, as time goes on, she becomes just a bit warmer. No telling if its just for show.

Exhibit C: I get invited by a friend who works in radio to a launch party for a cookbook. The author is chef and owner of a trendy tapas-and-cocktails joint. The door is manned by a guy with a list, and once inside I am chatted up by Publicist #1. She is young and friendly, and I mistake her for another partygoer until she casually reveals she does PR for restaurants. My friend hasn’t arrived yet, and when I emerge from the ladies, Publicist #2 comes up to me. She sizes me up, asking my name and business, without actually saying “Why Are You Here?” What she actually says is “I invited MOSTLY media so I’m just seeing where you fit in.” I stutter something lame about my friend and his prestigious media job, she gives me some wine and lets me loose. I see her later throwing arms around various other coiffed and well-dressed lifestyle journalists and restaurant people, posing for pictures.

Exhibit D: Not a publicist, but a vigourous self-promoter. During the brief time I worked in her shop I endured listening to her tell customers about all her famous movie star friends and assorted “Important People I Know”. Although I wouldn’t call her a bitch, I certainly felt most insignificant and underachieving in her lair. Sometimes I would see how long I could go without talking before someone there would actually talk to me. It still irks me to see how much media coverage she gets locally. See above comments about lifestyle journalists.

See, I’ve been watching the new show The Club lately, and isn’t that Allison (Exhibit E) chick the biggest huggy-kissy bitch you ever saw? It just seems strange that the people who are supposedly people-persons and party-lovers can be so breathtakingly mean and thoughtless. I can only guess it comes from that other part of the publicist persona that is always focused on Who and What is Important. As in who is rich, fashionable, trendy and influential.

I wish it was easier to find people who wallow in anonymity. I wish, after all the hard work of creating is done, there weren’t petty little status seekers who just swoop in and ask if you’re on the list. Publicists, don’t be bitches!