5 Lessons PR People Can Learn From Joan Rivers

Image: berkshirefinearts.com
Image: berkshirefinearts.com

Joan Rivers, who died yesterday at the age of 81, was certainly one of the hardest-working people in entertainment. Her achievements and her biting humor are being remembered in countless news stories today and some of her more famous one-liners are making the rounds as well. We thought it worthwhile to examine Rivers’ life and career as an example of what it takes to succeed not only in show business, but in many of life’s endeavors, including PR.

  • Revel in hard work. Rivers kept a pace that would put many people decades younger than her to shame, performing on stage and appearing on television with regular frequency. Whether it was her red carpet fashion commentary, her popular stage act, books or talk show appearances, Rivers was a machine when it came to show business.
  • Go where others fear to tread. Receiving virtually no support from her parents, Rivers pursued her show business ambitions while making ends meet with jobs in advertising and fashion. She started in standup comedy in the 1950s when the industry was almost exclusively male. She eventually became a popular and frequent guest host of The Tonight Show, and later became the first woman with her own late-night program, The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers.
  • Don’t be hobbled by failure. Rivers had a lot of doors slammed in her face in show business before catching the attention of Johnny Carson in 1965. But she never quit. Her personal and professional life plunged after her husband committed suicide in 1987. She regrouped, though, and started another TV show in 1989 that earned her a Daytime Emmy.
  • Try new things. Rivers did it all, and won acclaim in many circles along the way. Her playwriting and stage acting received awards and favorable reviews. She appeared in TV comedies, dramas, talk shows, advertisements and awards programs and earned public accolades. She was a best-selling author and satirist.
  • Don’t be swayed by the critics. No subject was off-limits for Rivers. Her off-color humor may have offended as many people as it delighted, but she never apologized for her comedy. She knew her audience appreciated her wit, and anyone who couldn’t appreciate her jokes always got a stock response: “Oh, grow up.”

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