In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the publicists of ICG Local 600 opted this year to turn their annual Publicists Awards Luncheon into an opportunity to help their fellow union members instead, raising approximately $60,000 for the Local’s Hardship Fund.
During the run up to this year’s event, the ICG Publicists Awards Committee decided that instead of holding a virtual awards luncheon, they would ask studios, corporate sponsors, and individuals to honor their members and their work by donating to the Local’s Hardship Fund. The fund provides emergency cash grants for members in need so they can meet necessary living expenses.
“We took into consideration that this pandemic has been really tough on the industry and the studios, and specifically for us publicists,” said committee Co-Chair Sheryl Main. “Instead of buying a ticket, we asked people to donate to the Hardship Fund. A big part of our job as publicists is doing for others and for me, this was really a shining example of that.”
Committee Co-Chair Tim Menke agreed. “One of the themes that has come out of ICG is ‘Stronger Together,’ and that is so apt for what we have been doing. Yes, times are tough, but let’s stay together and win.”
Once they came up with the idea of turning the awards ceremony into a fundraiser, the industry wholeheartedly embraced the effort. In donations ranging from $20 to $15,000, they were able to raise more than $60,000 to date.
“That amount is going to allow a lot of members who are struggling apply for grants and be able to get groceries, pay their electric bills or whatever they need,” Menke said. We’re very proud of that number.”
The Publicists Awards are traditionally held on the Friday of Oscar weekend. This year, to celebrate their rich 57-year history, the committee produced a nine-minute video featuring photographs and clips from past shows and sent it out to the membership.
The high-profile event traditionally fetes the best film and TV publicity campaigns during the prior year as well as career achievements by guild publicists. Still photographers and entertainment journalists are also recognized. Celebrity presenters and honorees are also key to the program’s success.
While fans of the event will have to wait until next year to experience the glamour of the Publicists Awards in person again, Main and Menke hope the tribute video will remind attendees how much fun everyone always has.
“We’re behind-the-scenes people, and the Publicists Awards is the only time that we shine a light on ourselves,” Main said. “With the video, we wanted members and other attendees to think about the program and say, ‘You know what, that’s such a great event for publicists!’”
“Instead of being in a room laughing, talking and getting to see old friends again, we can all share those feelings through this video, which I think is really cool.”
In March of this year, the Publicists Awards Committee sent out the following video to their fellow publicists, sharing a moment of reflection and levity. Said Co-Chairs Main and Menke, “Amidst all the challenges that came our way over this past year, we were resilient, we persisted, and we carried on as best we could.”