And the Oscar for celebrity PR goes to…

Who did you think won or lost at the PR Oscars last night? Was it Eddie Redmayne’s unbridled boyish excitement at winning best lead actor playing Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything? Patricia Arquette’s impassioned call for equal rights for women in America? How about newcomer Graham Moore opening up about his attempted suicide as a teen growing up “weird and different?”

The PR buzz from an Oscar winning performance, or nearly winning an Oscar, or being one of the award announcers, is seismic and leads to publicity lasting for days, weeks and even years.

Who can forget Sally Field’s 1985 Oscar speech when she incredulously cried out “You like me, you really like me?” As though anybody could ever not like Sally Field, the once and always Flying Nun and indomitable union organizer Norma Rae.

The buzz of the Oscars surpasses any other spectacle out there, short of who won the U.S. Presidency or Super Bowl (not necessarily in that order). When celebrities get it right – capture a moment with passion and authenticity – then the gold shines for years and decades to come.

Unfortunately, when they get it wrong, as John Travolta did last year with his now infamous “Adele Dazeem” butchering of Idina Menzel’s name, it can last for some time to come. The proliferation of social media, video and “fast-food” news outlets that feast on faux pas and f**k-ups makes it pretty near impossible to escape the boomerang of self-inflicted buzz.

Sadly, another celebrity filled the role Travolta voided this year, but in more troubling ways than a simple verbal flub. As he announced the best picture award, Sean Penn, after an awkward pause, came out with this bomb, which had Twitter written all over it: “Who gave this son of a bitch his green card?” And dear friends, Twitter indeed erupted, media outlets scooped and talking heads opined.

You might just say it’s just another day in “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” of the Oscars. You’d be right, of course. Not every actor has an Oscar-worthy acceptance speech at-the-ready, and those who deviate from the script do so at their own peril (although anything Alejandro Inarritu said last night was truly for the ages).

So it goes with our love-cringe relationship with the Oscars. We celebrate the industry’s artistry even as we glimpse the flawed humanity behind it. Part prurient publicity, part noble idealism, we watch the annual event’s showiness and are by turns delighted and disappointed.

I, for one, will always love the beautiful messiness of the Oscars.

About Dave Manzer:  Dave Manzer founded an Austin tech startup PR firm for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009. Dave Manzer specializes in highly integrated PR & marketing strategies that help companies in technology, healthcare, consumer and professional services reach their goals in brand awareness and revenue growth. To contact Dave about the PR over Coffee blog, please tweet him at @DaveManzer or email him at dave(@)

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