A publicist is a person whose job it is to generate and manage publicity for a public figure, especially a celebrity, a business, or for a work such as a book, film or album. Most top-level publicists work in private practice, handling multiple clients. The term “publicist” was coined by Columbia law professor Francis Lieber (1800–1872) to describe the public-like role of internationalists during the late nineteenth century.
In the world of celebrities, unlike agents or managers, publicists typically take a monthly fee for serving a client (whereas agents and managers tend to take a percentage of their client’s gross income). Publicists can be at local, regional or national level. They can also have special expertise in areas such as entertainment or literary publicity.
One of the publicist’s main functions is to generate press coverage on behalf of clients and to serve as the bridge between clients, their public and media outlets. A publicist writespress releases, manages campaigns and performs other public relations functions. It usually takes many years to develop the media contacts, experience and relationships necessary to be an effective publicist.
Some publicists specialize in representing ordinary members of the public to procure the maximum possible fee for stories they wish to sell to newspapers, television stations andmagazines. A number have now sprung up on the internet and work as media agents gaining members of the public multiple deals with publications.