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A Media Prof’s Thoughts Regarding the Promotion of Outlander

December 13th, 2014

As a Professor who teaches Media Economics and Technology I pay close attention to the business of premium cable networks, celebrity media outlets and social media networks such as Twitter, and I have been just stricken by this (the Outlander ) situation on multiple levels. May I add one perspective for your consideration: I am not sure that the publicity around the actors’ “chemistry” was fair to them, or at all warranted. Starz knew that they had a built-in fan base from the novels but they needed to extend the show’s appeal beyond the core fans to generate more subscriber revenue. Instead of letting the show and the incredible actors speak for itself, they created a press narrative that blurred the lines between the actors and the people. They did this for their gain. Then, the celebrity pop culture media arranged photo shoots to continue to fuel the “chemistry” because those pictures earn “clicks” and “clicks” mean advertising revenue. The media business is a scale business and in a fragmented media landscape it’s becoming harder and harder to generate mass exposure. I believe the exposure around these two actors has been unfair and downright irresponsible. Believe me, this does not at all condone the ugliness that I am seeing on Twitter. You can follow me @judyfranks and read my posts about it. That said, what is most baffling: the show is amazing and award-worthy. The ancillary “chemistry” spin was unnecessary. Outlander will earn its place come award season. These actors deserve to have private lives and respect from their fans. However, to your point, a Twitter handle is a promotional vehicle. I only tweet thoughts about the media or my teachings. In this instance, I would also encourage the actor to think carefully about what he posts/shares in such a public sphere to avoid drawing out the Trolls. In some instances, he was his own worst PR. The Paparazzi will be difficult enough! Let’s hope that the publicity for the second half of the season is more respectful to the actors and their craft.


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