Even the most disengaged person in the country knows that for all the talk of artistry Hollywood is pretty much a PR machine.
Hollywood pushes all kinds of movies: fantasy, action, comedies, kid flicks. There are all kinds of actors, A list stars, character actors, unknowns, You see war, peace love and lessons, CGI and live action but when it comes down to it, all the special effects, big names, and locations are about creating an image and selling that image to you.
That’s the job of Hollywood, That’s PR.
The movie industry pulls out all the stops to do this. According to Ad week the motion picture industry as a whole spent 3.2 billion in 2012 on advertising their product from TV to the Internet and everywhere else.
Looking at a single studio in 2013 20th Century Fox (or just Fox if you prefer) released 13 movies. Some of them are pictures were big box office successes that you likely heard of ( The Wolverine, the Croods.) Some of them you might not have seen at the movies but know the franchises. (A Good Day to Die Hard) some that you likely never heard of or caught on cable (the Counselor) and some you might have heard of because of the sheer volumes of ads but you gave it a miss because it looked kinda lame ( The secret life of Walter Mitty).
The movies Fox made featured stars that are household names: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen, Bruce Willis, Rosie Perez, Brad Pitt, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck. You see them on posters; you’ve watched them on the morning show, on daytime talk on late night shows pitching their pictures. You’ve seen the ads on TV, and the trailers and posters at the movie theaters when they came out and on Cable as you browse though the on demand menus.
In 2013 Fox spent $303,000,000 to promote those 13 movies. While some of that money filled seats and some did not, it’s almost a given that even if you didn’t go to see those pictures if I rattled off their names you would have likely heard of them and even if you didn’t remember much about the movies you would know the stars.
Bottom line all that Hollywood PR money made its mark in your memory.
And that oddly enough brings us to the EPA and a report put out by a group called Open the Books. As indicated by the name, they are all about transparency in government spending.
Their latest report details spending by the EPA from 2000 to 2014 and there are a lot of things in that report that really jump out at you.
Since 2000 they have given out double in grants than the entire Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has in total assets. (p1)
Their 2015 budget this year is higher than the budgets of 8 states (p1)
A full 1/3 of EPA employees (over 10,000) position make over $100 a year. (p31)
But what really jumped out at me was the spending on PR:
198 ‘Public Affairs’ employees (FY2012) were employed by EPA. Since 2007, EPA spent over $141,495,571 in salaries and another $1.5 million in performance bonuses. The EPA also spent $15,093,088 with outside public relations consultants to further buttress PR. ‘Public Affairs’ ranked 16th most paid salary title at EPA since FY2007.
So between outside PR firms and internal “public affairs” employees that comes to over $150 million dollars over 8 years on PR.
To put that in perspective that’s more than the production budgets of the 2013 Fox releases , Runner Runner, A Good day to die hard and The counselor combined. Those three pictures featured Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck, Bruce Willis, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Rosie Perez and Brad Pitt.
So given those facts three things immediately leap to mind.
How can the EPA spend 19.7 million a year on PR without, you know, actually promoting anything?
When Hollywood promotes a movie you see the posters everywhere, you see the stars on TV, you hear them on radio, you are bombarded with information to the point where even if you want to forget about a movie or a star, you can’t. It pops into your head.
I defy anyone to come up with anything the EPA has promoted that you have heard of? The only thing you have likely heard at all concerning the EPA concerning that nasty mine spill that turned a river orange. That’s something the EPA is doing their best to make you forget.
If the EPA is spending millions promoting something they’re doing don’t you think someone in the country might have heard of it?
If we aren’t the target of that 19.7 million a year pr WHO IS?
Ok if the EPA is spending 19.7 million a year to PR people and they aren’t trying to advertise or promote the EPA to the public and the taxpayer who are they spinning?
You’re talking a group of employees with an average wage of $90K that’s not chicken feed, you are spending the more than hit movies cost. We know a movie maker is trying to sell their product to the viewing public, exactly who is the EPA spending all this money trying to sell? Who is the target and what is their goal?
I mean Jem and the Holograms crashed and burned but at least people have heard of it? What has the EPA done lately other than pollute rivers that we know about?
What is the EPA doing spending millions on PR people anyway?
Have we run out of sites that need cleaning or inspecting? Is the air and water so clean , the species so safe and our country so unpolluted that we have the extra to blow on this kind of thing?
I think those are excellent questions, I think it would be really interesting to get the answers.