Monday, August 11, 2008

Turning leaders into celebrities

Of my passions in life, the first two undoubtedly are pop culture and politics; ask me for a third, and it’s the written word. So, imagine my sheer joy when our staff collaborated to develop the Aug. 11 issue of H&MM, focused on the upcoming elections—finally, I could share my passion for politics through the written word of the magazine. (The only thing that could have made it better would have been if the staff agreed to a photo page of movies that featured presidents in hotels—there must be a few, right?)

But it seems my dreams of mixing politics and pop culture came true when presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain unleashed a new commercial juxtaposing presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama with hotel heiress Paris Hilton.

The commercial says he is “the biggest celebrity in the world—but is he ready to lead?”

No offense to any of you with personal connections to Ms. Hilton herself (after all, I love her role on The Simple Life, and I thought her response video to his commercial was absolutely brilliant), but I found this comparison to be a bit far-fetched. Sen. Obama may be a celebrity, but he is no Paris Hilton. And what makes his celebrity a bad thing?

Many leaders have garnered celebrity status over the years. I don’t necessarily mean they have paparazzi followers and receive red-carpet treatment, but rather I mean that any good leader of any industry will build up fame because of his or her success. Does the fact that Bill Gates is on the A-list mean he can’t run one of the most successful companies in the world? Certainly not.

Yes, Sen. Obama does have celeb status, probably even more so than Sen. McCain. But I think the vigor he instills in so many should be viewed as a breath of fresh air to those people who call youngsters in my generation “apathetic” and “unconcerned” with the future.

It doesn’t matter what position a leader holds—whether it’s president, general manager, editor—Millennials want someone who has this air of celebrity to lead them. We want someone who inspires us, yet also pushes us to do our best. We want someone to promote new, fresh ideas, yet also who can teach us from his or her experience, whether it’s personal or professional.

Our August issue, under the new leadership of our editorial director Paul Heney and the veteran staffers, including Stephanie Ricca and Jason Freed, who both have stepped into new positions, did just that for me. The political topic inspired me and made me want to work hard to publish what we view as one of our best issues; it was a fresh idea for us—a bit different from our straight news style; and I learned from the experience of all the staff members. Each of us has a different background and brought different ideas to the table. Each of us worked hard to set aside any political differences we may have had and present the facts to you, the readers, to make an informed decision. I truly hope you enjoy reading the issue as much as I enjoyed collaborating on it. Let me know any feedback you may have, good, bad or otherwise. And if you want to chat about the issue, let me know—I’m not one to turn down a good debate.

1 comment:

media blog said...

Paris obviously has some marketing savvy; she can turn anything into a PR boost for herself... thx to McCain’s miscalculation, she’ll be selling more cans of wine than ever