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PR Firms Pressure Hollywood Foreign Press Association to Reform

Top press agencies, with the backing of many of their powerful clients, are urging the HFPA to clean up their act, fast.

The 2021 Golden Globes stage in Beverly Hills, CA

The 2021 Golden Globes stage in Beverly Hills, CA

The Golden Globe Awards

Last Wednesday an email chain started to circulate around Hollywood’s press agencies, who represent many of the entertainment industry’s top stars. Over the decades, some veteran publicists were getting sick and tired of the demands of The Hollywood Foreign Press, that coterie of about 90 foreign correspondents who originally banded together to get access to movie stars and eventually came to believe they were friends with them.

The HFPA launched the Golden Globes in 1944, and this past season came under fire after the latest in a series of muckraking newspaper stories over the years exposing their susceptibility to exotic junkets and excessive swag, cozy relationships with publicists, and their myopia about diversity within their membership ranks. After refusing to hire a diversity consultant, the HFPA went ahead and recently put some advisors on their payroll, announcing at the Golden Globes, which were an anemic affair this year, that they would make changes.

On Monday, the day of the Oscar nominations announcement, the email chain had grown and morphed into a series of Zooms, conference calls, and group texts, until a plan of action was made to send a letter to the HFPA by the end of the day with signatures from a burgeoning list of more than 100 PR firms from London and Paris to New York and Los Angeles, including Viewpoint, ID (whose CEO Kelly Bush Novak took a leadership role) to 42West, Rogers & Cowan PMK, Lede PR, Narrative, and many, many more.

Their issues are myriad. But these powerful publicists are willing to withhold the participation of their clients in HFPA events if many of these concerns, listed below, are not addressed. On Monday night, the HFPA board released a statement, pasted below.

March 15, 2021

Greg Goecker, COO & General Counsel

Ali Sar, President

Meher Tatna, Board Chair

Hollywood Foreign Press Association

646 N. Robertson Blvd

West Hollywood, CA 90069

Via email

As publicists we collectively represent the vast majority of artists in the entertainment industry.

We call on the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to swiftly manifest profound and lasting change to eradicate the longstanding exclusionary ethos and pervasive practice of discriminatory behavior, unprofessionalism, ethical impropriety and alleged financial corruption endemic to the HFPA, funded by Dick Clark Productions, MRC, NBCUniversal and Comcast.

In the last decade our industry has faced a seismic reckoning and begun to address its failure to reflect and honor the diversity of our community, yet we have witnessed no acceptance of responsibility, accountability or action from the HFPA, even as systemic inequity and egregious behavior are allowed to continue. We collectively and unequivocally agree that transformative change in your organization and its historical practices is essential and entirely achievable. We want to be part of the solution.

To reflect how urgent and necessary we feel this work is, we cannot advocate for our clients to participate in HFPA events or interviews as we await your explicit plans and timeline for transformational change.

While we stand ready to support your good faith efforts, please know that anything less than transparent, meaningful change that respects and honors the diversity and dignity of our clients, their colleagues and our global audience will result in immediate and irreparable damage to the relationship between our agencies, our clients and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and those who sanction the institutional inequity and insular culture that currently define it.

The eyes of the industry and those who support it are watching.

Respectfully,

42West

Advantage PR

Agence Contact

align Public Relations

American Entertainment Marketing (AEM)

Anderson Group Public Relations

Array

Ascend Public Relations Group

BazanPR

Bespoke Publicity

Carol Marshall Public Relations

Cassandra Butcher PR & Marketing

Cinematic Red PR

CLD Communications

Core PR Group

DawBell

DDA

Detail PR

E2W Collective

Elzer & Associates

Flash Forward Publicity

Forefront Media

Full Coverage Communications

Guttman Associates Public Relations

Heidi Schaeffer Public Relations

Herring PR

Hive Collective

ICON PR

ID

Image Management PR

imPRint

Independent Public Relations

Indie PR

Integrated PR

JCPR

JDS

Jill Fritzo Public Relations

Jonas PR

JONESWORKS

Joy Fehily Management + Consulting

Katrina Wan PR

Katz Public Relations

Kovert Creative

LongstreetWorks

LSG Public Relations

Luna Entertainment

Main Stage Public Relations

Marleah Leslie & Associates

Marque PR

McClure & Associates Public Relations

Meghan Prophet Public Relations

MLC PR

MPRM Communications

MRC Publicity and Marketing

Nancy Seltzer & Associates

Narrative

NMA PR

Patricola Public Relations

Paula Woods Consultants

Persona PR

Personal PR

Pinnacle Public Relations

Platform Public Relations

PMG-Platform Media Group

Polaris PR

Portrait PR

PR Machine

Premier

PRStudio USA

Presse Public Relations

Principal Communications Group

Prism Media Group

Prosper PR

Public Eye Communications

Rebel PR

Red Sea Entertainment

Relevant

Rogers & Cowan/PMK

Rosenfield Media Group

Rowe PR

Schure Media Group

Sechel PR

Shelter PR

Slash Agency

Slate PR

Strategic Heights Media

Strategic Public Relations

SYStrategies & PR

TCOPR

Tencer & Associates

The Chamber Group

The Collins Jackson Agency

The Initiative Group

The Lede Company

The Oriel Company

The Samonte Group

True Public Relations

TS Collective

VanIden Public Relations

Viewpoint

Vision PR

Wolf Kasteler

ZTPR

Please see the below statement attributed to (and on behalf of) the HFPA board:

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association reiterates that we are committed to making necessary changes within our organization and in our industry as a whole. We also acknowledge that we should have done more, and sooner. As a demonstration of our commitment, the board has unanimously approved a plan to increase membership to a minimum of 100 members this year, with a requirement that at least 13 percent of the membership be Black journalists.

We are also continuing to work on the comprehensive initiatives announced last week. Our outside legal counsel has already begun to work on how to effectively implement transformational changes to our organization, including a comprehensive review of our governance and code of conduct, and Dr. Shaun Harper, our new strategic diversity advisor, has identified the following workstreams:

Analyzing policies, practices, member recruitment activities, and member selection processes through the prism of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI);

Facilitating 20 quarterly trainings over the next five years on DEI topics ranging from implicit and explicit bias to strategically diversifying the membership, evolving the Association with changing demographics, welcoming Black members into an inclusive environment, and ensuring equitable pathways to leadership for women members, to name a few;
Facilitating introductions to prospective strategic DEI partner organizations in journalism and entertainment, and developing a strategy to sustain those mutually-rewarding relationships over many years;
Conducting interviews with members to invite their input on the development and strategic actualization of DEI goals. Also gathering qualitative insights from industry leaders on what they feel the Association must do to become more equitable, diverse, and inclusive; and
Systematically assessing and making transparent the Association’s year-to-year progress on DEI goals and commitments.

We have also started meeting with various advocacy groups and racially diverse partners to gather their input and hear their opinions on the additional reforms that need to take place. While we recognize this is a long-term process, we will continue to be transparent, provide updates, and have confidence in our ability to change and restore trust in our organization and the Golden Globes. As we do so, we invite others in the Hollywood community to join us in advancing racial equity in our industry.

 

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