HRTS Member Profile: Kevin Brockman
Kevin Brockman is Executive Vice President, Global Communications, Disney/ABC Television Group.
I recently had a chance to interview Kevin to discuss technology, storytelling and giving back.
Q: Can you tell us about your background and what made you want to work in entertainment?
-I moved to New York straight out of college, with little idea of what I wanted to do with my life. I was lucky enough to land a job in Theatrical PR with a man named Peter Cromarty, who had just opened his own firm. He taught me the art of a well-crafted story, and how to convey passion for a project through the written word. As soon as I handled my first account, an Off-Broadway production of “Blues in the Night,” I knew I was hooked. Brian Graden, then head of Fox Television Stations Productions, was the one who believed in me, and the abilities I had honed working at Cromarty & Company and then at Radio City Music Hall Productions, enough to give me my first job in TV communications. I handled PR and On-Air Promo for “The Mo Show,” a talk show starring Mo Gaffney that he was testing in the Fox Owned Station markets. From then on, my career became all about opportunities and connections, which is probably very similar to many other stories out there. After helping to launch UPN, I joined The Walt Disney Company in 1997 as Vice President of West Coast Publicity for ABC, overseeing primetime. I’ve spent that last 16+ years with this company in a variety of positions, and I can honestly say that I have never been bored, and still enjoy it as much today as the first time I walked through the doors.
Q: How did you first get involved with the HRTS?
-I’m sure the first time I learned about HRTS was while at Fox, but I remember my first real involvement with the group was while I oversaw communications for UPN. Lucie Salhany was my boss, and she was active in the organization.
Q: What is a favorite memory from your career thus far?
-wow. Hard question to answer, as I’ve been blessed with a great deal for which to be thankful. Honestly, the single best thing about my career thus far are the amazing people that I’ve had the pleasure to work alongside all these years…smart, talented individuals who have taught me a lot, mentored me along the way, and inspired me to be the best communications professional that I can be.
Q: How are publicity and PR different today than when you started?
-the better question might be…“how are they similar?” Obviously the craft has had to adapt to a 24/7 news cycle, and the fact that anyone with a smart phone can be a journalist, with the ability to break news. But what hasn’t changed is what I learned in that first job… that at its core, effective communications is all about great storytelling. Those of us who are good at this craft are inherent storytellers… people who can look at a set of facts and situations and create a narrative that works to best tell that story first to a reporter, and ultimately our target audience. It is that craft, of a story well told, that is most intriguing and intoxicating about Communications. At least to me.
Q: How will publicity and PR continue to change as a result of the transmedia landscape?
-communications will continue to change alongside the businesses that we support, because to do otherwise would be folly. We have to embrace change, and the incredible opportunity that it holds, or risk becoming redundant and irrelevant. We were the first network to move our communication efforts online more than a decade ago, to much sturm-und-drang at the time, because it was simply smarter and more efficient to utilize technology to get screening copies, digital and photographic assets directly into the hands of those who needed them most. The fact that it also saved us a great deal of money previously spent on duping, dubbing and shipping was just smart business.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a publicist?
-I would tell them that it all begins with the story…and the ability to understand how to craft it and then convey it with passion and professionalism. I would also tell them that, as far as I’m concerned, you “catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” Life is too short to spend a lot of energy being an ass.
Q: Anything you would like to add?
-I think it is important that, as we progress in our careers, that we give back, in whatever way works for us. With me, that means working with a not-for-profit that speaks directly to me…the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). I’ve been an active member of GLSEN for almost 20 years; I’ve been on the Board for the past seven; and I recently was named the Board Chairman. I’ve witnessed first-hand the amazing impact that this organization has on the lives and well-being of thousands of students across the country, so my time is well spent. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the drama of our business, so this is my way of reminding me that it is just a job, and that there are other things in life that are important, and worthy of my attention.