Working in public relations can be like working in a never-ending circus. Today, Dani Behr and Tara Joseph interview top celebrity publicist and media expert, Daniel Bee. Daniel gives us a firsthand account of the trials and tribulations of looking after the reputations and careers of celebrities. Having worked for big names like Hugh Hefner and Richard Branson, Daniel understands the ins and outs of crisis management. With some interesting stories about how the whole industry works and how handling media laws in different countries can be challenging, Daniel shares with us his insight into the ever changing world of PR.
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PR Stories And Crisis Management For The Stars With Daniel Bee
We love to have an eclectic mix of guests on our show, not just from the world of LA and the City of Angels and Hollywood and all that good stuff, but we love to talk to people from way back home from across the pond. They are people that have got a little something to talk about, some good old fashion stories and some industry experience. Tara has got a fabulous guest that fits all of those things. Tara, who have we got on the show?
From London and Scotland to LA and back again multiple times, this transatlantic guest does cover the gauntlet of all things entertainment from being a top publicist to a brand consultant, communications expert and everything in between. He is our fabulous guest, Daniel Bee. Daniel, how are you?
I’m extremely well. What an introduction that is. I could wish for no better than that.
It wouldn’t be anything less.
I better live up to some of all that wonderful hype that you’ve given me. That’s fantastic.
Where are you?
I’m in Los Angeles and I’ll be in Ethiopia next.
I was not expecting that.
I thought I’d throw you there immediately with the spanner and the works of going to that.
What are you doing there?
I’ve got to go and launch a magazine there for Ethiopian Airlines. They’re the biggest airline in Africa. They’re rather big and huge instead of the de facto airline of choice. I worked for a publishing company based out of London who makes their magazine and we’re launching one.
Do you mean like an inflight magazine?
Do people still read those?
It’s odd. If you think about it, American Airlines have 500,000 people on their planes in a single day alone and 70%, 80% may be up to 90% of people read it.
You’ve got nothing else to do, it’s a captive audience as they say.
You’re in your little tin tube flying at 500 miles an hour. What else are you going to do?
Do you do PR for a lot of the airlines? I remember having a conversation with you in the past about all of this.
Yes, that’s one of them.
Have you got any ones on our route that we like to travel a lot?
Join the queue on that. The company I represent work for United and American. We almost got something away with that.
Do you get all the free flights for you and your family?
No, they’re all in the business of selling flights. It’s back of the ship for me if I’m lucky.
You’re in cargo if you get that spot.
I’m downstairs with the salmon, that’s where I am. It’s not the stuff you can eat.
How much time do you spend in LA and how much time are you in London? Whenever I see you, you’ve just arrived or you’re just going.
I was just in London and back there and then Ethiopia, then back Costa Rica. I jumped around quite a lot. There’s a bit of jumping going on.
How did you have a relationship? You’re married, got kids, any of that good stuff? How are you going to manage that?
You might give me the perfect out. No, I’m far too busy for relationships but I’m very available for everything else.
Single and ready to mingle then?
It’s hard. The entertainment industry has changed where we all have to work a little bit harder for less money.
I’m so glad you said that. Tara and I keep going on about, “Hold on a minute, with technology, should be we working less hours because we’re more effective?” We are working longer hours, more days and the workload seems to be piling up. I’m glad it’s not only us.
You did start precociously early if I’m not correct.
I’m exhausted, Daniel. I should’ve been retired several years ago.
I have the great advantage of not only being on this show, but I can also see you as well, and you don’t look tired at all. I can confirm to all readers that it doesn’t show, but it is hard.
We’ve met before, haven’t we? Remind me.
I tried to work out. It might have been the wonderful Francis Ridley, the talent manager who produced the word rather precociously at age 24 or 25. I have a great knowledge of Tara as well. We just bump into each other and said, “Hello,” for about 25 years. We didn’t know each other, but any good party in London, Tara was there.
We’re talking back in the ’90s, Daniel. I remember literally whenever I would go out in the late ’90s, you were always there and all of a sudden I moved to LA and you’re always here. Everywhere I go, you’re always there.
Tara, you and I met. Dani, I’m coming back to you because of the story about one thing you once said to me one evening. Get yourself ready for it. I don’t think any of us were sober at the time, but it was Morgan Mason who introduced us from William Morris days, Tara. He was the first person that ever introduced to us. Dani, you once grabbed me. I thought it was my lucky night.
How could you forget clearly?
I know exactly at that point it’s the height of the entertainment industry. You went, “Ryan Giggs,” I’m like, “You should know, I’m not him.” I realized that his parents go back to Sierra Leone. Dani, how much did you have to drink that night?
He’s extremely pale for a mixed race. He’s much on the lighter side and a lot of people don’t even know he’s mixed race. He’s not extremely dark. Even his dad, but his mom is white, blonde blue-eyed, waspy-looking as it gets. He’s paler than me, which says a lot. It’s the wave and the hair.
There was more hair. As my old client, Harry Hill, used to say, there are more face cloths than hairbrushes as you get old.
Talking about names, who have you ever represented? Who do you look after? Some good old celebrities so we can give our audience that caliber.
If we’re talking Los Angeles, I did spend quite a lot of time looking after Hugh Hefner of Playboy.
Tell us some stories about that. You must have a few there.
Give us your best Hugh Hefner story. He’s a legend.
I had the joy in 2006 of organizing his 80th birthday tour around Europe and launched the career of Holly, Bridget and Kendra. We went on a private jet for three weeks going around nine cities, five countries for 21 days. That was hard work, to be honest.
Was it a PR stands or was it a genuine vacation for him?
It was all funded by the E! Entertainment and all of its networks around Europe who are wanting to bring him to town. They all chipped in a bit of money. Was it a holiday? Sure. He and Holly managed to go and see all the sites and do all of that. I was part of the party, which was an entourage in the finest way but its hard work. It was like shepherding cats.
Is he shagging all three of them? That’s what everyone wants to know, or Mondays are for Holly, Tuesdays are for this one?
Going back to 2006, very much Holly was in the number one position. In older life as I’ve probably had to think about this, he worked on a hierarchical polyamorous situation. Holly was in position one, Bridget and Kendra were down the food chain for want of a description that’s more respectful. He was doing it, absolutely. It was on the schedule there I admit such a thing. We knew between these hours’ afternoon nap, it turned into gin and rum.
At his age, he’s still going for it. The fact that he can still get it up is a big deal in itself.
I’ve got more forehead but thank goodness, everything else works. As old age kicks in, the blue pill was the thing that probably changed his world back into his younger ways.
Who else have you looked after? Tell us some more.
My first big client was in ’97 when I moved to London was Andrew Lloyd Webber. Working with Andrew for three and a half years was definitely something that was a great training ground for me, but it was good fun. It was, “Sylvia Young’s girls and boys.” It’s not a bad booking as your first PR job.
I’ve spent time with Andrew Lloyd Webber. He’s quite an amazing person apart from being a genius. He’s so inspirational to be around. He’s so amazing.
Does he come up with a song in the middle of lunch, does he like that?Genius is probably held to the creative arts. Click To Tweet
He is good. You’re completely right. With any composer, you have to allow them a bit of quiet time and they drift off and be at lunchtime, dinner time, breakfast, shower or whatever. You can’t escape from being a composer and that has its pluses and minuses. Tara, you said something interesting. He is the only bonafide genius I’ve ever met. Genius is probably held to the creative arts. Painters, writers, and composers. There’s a slight madness in the genius.
I remember I went to his house once in the country with an artist and seeing him do his thing and working in his creative genius way. I would never forget it.
Did he play the piano in front of you and start making up melodies? It’s quite fun to watch, isn’t it?
It’s an amazing thing. You were at Sylvia Young’s?
I was. Yes, that was my high school. We were very much into all the musicals. My first ever theater gig was at the old fire station in Oxford with Cameron Mackintosh. I was more in the Cameron team than the Lloyd Webber team. At the time it was one or the other.
Cameron Mackintosh and I are Scottish. Somehow, I got a call one day from Scotland on Sunday newspaper and they said, “Daniel, we know who you are. We know you know Cameron, could you give him the bad news that he’s house has burnt down?” I like, “Absolutely bloody not. Let me give him a call. I’ll put you together.” I’m like, “I’m not breaking the news to someone that they’ve lost their house in Knoydart in Scotland.” He was always a lovely man.
He’s great. His partner at the time, Robert, they’re still together. His whole family, they’re wonderful people. Still, if I bumped into him, he’s a great guy. I want to ask you about your crisis management because I know that was part of the job. What does that mean and what’s the biggest crisis you’ve ever had to manage?
It’s a slightly sharp-edged sword, but my favorite conversation definitely is, “Daniel, we have a problem.” I’m like, “Terribly sorry.”
It gets you excited.
It does. It’s an adrenal energy cake that does get you. Some of my best crisis management, you’ll probably never see or hear off. You know you’ve done rather well if it goes away. When you find yourself with clients as I have three times where there were questions they can get asked in parliament that day, you know you’re on the news agenda. I don’t want to get into too much politics.
Give us a tidbit.
I got calls that say, “Is this Daniel?” I’m like, “Yes.” They’re like, “We’ve got a problem. We’re Boris Johnson’s next-door neighbors.” They were the neighbors that had heard the noise from next door. They had called the police in the Tory leadership candidate at that point that was Boris Johnson. It got messy.
They heard all these private conversations basically.
Through the door, they had recorded it.
How are you allowed to talk about this and how are they allowed to record his conversations?
They’re in their own house. They can do what they want.
Dani has this right. Although the walls are soundproofed and all of those things, the doors are not and the noise was severe. They called the police in genuine worry for the safety of the occupants. How am I able to talk about it? I’m not saying anything that’s illegal or unwritten about or a publicist should always be, I will choose my words carefully.
Meaning it’s in the public domain is what you’re saying?
He would’ve been mentioned it otherwise.
No, I wouldn’t. That’s always been a thing about being a publicist. If you can’t get the media legalities right, how could you ever advise your clients?
Do you feel like you’re constantly filtering everything you say to any person or anyone you talk to? Are you on constant filter mode because I can imagine that’s quite exhausting if you are after some time?
It’s like anything, it’s a muscle. You are a wonderful broadcaster. I hear your ease more than anyone because you’ve done years of broadcasting. It’s a muscle that you have trained. It’s the same thing as a publicist. You speak in ways and you say things in ways and you hopefully get that way right. It’s not a pressure. It’s not a problem to filter. I could tell you, if we were not having this, yes. I might be a bit lusher. If you give me a bit more Scottish whiskey, I might go even more lush. That’s the way it goes. That’s human nature. Everyone likes a bit of gossip and everyone likes a bit of a story in and hopefully along the lines you’re respectful and you get things accurately and all of that. Crisis management is all about speed of response and poise of response.
Do you find that you’re working with more individual clients or more corporations, like you were saying you were doing Ethiopian Airways?
I could be accused of being a bit silly because I’ve been a generalist as a publicist. I’ve launched the biggest films in the world. I’ve launched some of the biggest books in the world. I’ve launched some of the best theater in the world. I’ve generalized across many fields. Maybe if I’d focused on just film, I’d be a much richer person than I am. Looking out for people is great fun for me because you can actually have a conversation with someone. You can hopefully have a reasonable conversation with some people. Brands aren’t quite the same. Dealing with Hugh Hefner was easier than dealing with the brand. Dealing with Michael Eisner was easier than dealing with Disney. Sometimes the machine is so large behind the person that you slightly get bogged down. Even when I looked after Michael Farrell, the guy who owned the LA Times and the Chicago Tribune and a lot of other newspapers in America. I was looking after him. I wasn’t looking after the newspapers individually.
Do you find that some people are naturally born great PR people? I worked with Richard Branson for many years. I managed a lot of Virgin products. He’s a natural-born PR marketing guy. He knows what to do and how to do it and what to say and what needs to say. You must have come across many high-profile people you’re talking about. Who was a natural-born PR person and knows what to do without any training or advice from you?
I’ve been working with an old mate of mine named Aaron Simpson. Aaron launched quintessentially the concierge company in the UK back in ’99. We’ve worked on his new app called Kindred. He’s naturally one of the best speakers. I genuinely had no notes for him and he does it. He’s an Oxbridge grad and he’s smart. Most people in the public eye deserve their position and they’re there for a reason. He’s the most naturally talented salesman or speakers that I’ve ever worked with. Of course, Richard Branson was great, but Will Whitehorn was Richard’s PR man for years. Together, they grew the company. Richard Branson, many bits of his brilliance, was to have a good publicist throughout his whole career and to have trust in that person.
Me personally, having worked with publicists over here in the States and publicists in the UK is a very different job in a way altogether. Crisis management happens, but I think in the UK they seem to be much more prepared for crisis management simply because of the tabloid situation over there. It’s a very different press world. Which do you prefer being?
They’re much more litigious here as well. You’ve got to be careful.
It’s totally different. Here’s the difference, you used to have eleven national daily newspapers in the UK. There’s a hint in the word, news. They are constantly pushing to find something new over and above what the journalists and their counterparts and other newspapers are. They push harder, they push faster, and they will go to press that night. I once had a crisis in a job here and it’s like, “This is going to be front-page news. It’s 3:00, I’ve got an hour to get back to you.” “We’ll do this in ten days’ time.” It was the LA Times and there’s no other newspaper in LA that chomps its heels or bites its knees.
There’s a lack of urgency.
You don’t have the paparazzi culture here in the same way that you do in the UK. It’s really different.
It’s entirely different. The media law of Great Britain is much better as well. The media system in Britain is a more mature market and more sensible market. It’s also a bit more of a bear pit.
It’s more mature. If you asked me, I’m not a real journalist. He might be more mature as far as we’ve more established, we’ve been doing this a lot longer. We have different ways and way more sophisticated in our ways. With it as well, there’s a lot of salaciousness and a lot of lying and fabrication. It’s been just business. I’m at the forefront of it for quite some time. It’s astonishing how much crap they made up about so many people all the time. The problem was there was a maximum payout. They knew if they wrote this article and I’m sure completely fabricated or whatever, they knew the maximum amount they would have to pay out in the courts of England worth £30,000 at that time. They were like, “We make £1 million in sales, so bugger it. Let’s give it go.”
People do have to be a little more careful because there is litigation. Daniel, you more about that than us.
You’re going on your own personal experiences and things have definitely changed and they have changed considerably. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a number of journalists who are complete strangers to the truth. They will continue to be so and do so. Fact-checking here is much better. There are more subs in the back room of the newspapers double checking things. They’re rather better staffed. The quality of journalism is actually possibly higher here because they’re not training out because they have days to create stuff. A crisis is still a crisis. Of course, we’ve got online and it’s still a bit Wild West out there for as long as it is.There are still a number of journalists who are complete strangers to the truth. Click To Tweet
They’re in a very unique and difficult position. When I say they, I both mean Harry and Meghan, the British press and the British public. The British public wants to know about the Royals. We’ve grown up around them. There is a huge appetite. The media love them. They want to enjoy them. They want to sell the papers. They want to honor any hypocrisies as well. They want to be tough on them and they want to be there. In a weird way, if you asked me, as an answer to this specific question, they’ve mis-stepped terribly. Harry and Meghan, they’ve taken a huge risk, which is very ill-advised.
Who took the risk? Do you think they’ve taken risks, Harry and Meghan?
I think they’ve taken a massive risk.
In factual point of law, what they’ve done is they’ve decided to sue the mail on Sunday for a letter that was sent between two people, between daughter and father. My understanding of the law is that any letter that you write, the copyright remains with the person who’s written the letter. They own the copyright. It’s their paper, their pen, their stamp, it’s their artifact. Therefore, copyright on that can be interpreted for sure. They have chosen to take the mail on Sunday to court on that basis and they may actually have a good chance at winning that. Who knows? That’s where that lies. Do they win the PR battle? Absolutely not. Do they win the PR war that they’ve decided to unleashed by also suing for phone hacking? They have decided to unleash every gun at the broad sense of the media. My personal opinion is that to do that plus taking public taxpayers’ money, on the other hand, is really tough.
Do you think it’s coming from Meghan? They’ve always been tedious if they felt like something is completely incorrect and privacy invasion. It seems like it’s a bit gung-ho.
Goodness knows where it first came from. He has a family built-in fear of the media or experience with the media, which has not always been wonderful. There’s a potential where he could connect his personal losses over the years towards the media. You have a deep-seated problem. She’s coming with an American Hollywood type attitude. I’ve only met her briefly once, but we have a lot of very good friends in common. I don’t claim to know her, nor do I claim any knowledge on this, but I think the Americans would think you’d have a chance to flex your Hollywood muscles to the media in the way that they do every day in Los Angeles. You can’t do that in Britain. There is a public interest in some who are paid by the taxpayer in comparison to the public interest in someone who’s launching a new TV show. The level of scrutiny is entirely different. I suspect they’re getting very well-advised by people around them who are good lawyers at Schillings and a good publicist. Ken Sunshine of Sunshine Sachs in New York was brought in.
It’s all very different from how the roles have ever behaved in the past. They have never before bought in Schillings, never before worked with Sunshine Sachs. They have always kept it very internal. I feel it’s like a double-edged sword for them. I feel for them as individuals but then also there’s the whole Royal protocol part of it. It’s a very difficult situation.
You also have to understand that if you’re Meghan, you’re an average American girl who meets this fellow. He’s part of the Royal family. If you decide to embark on a relationship with him let alone marriage and kids, you’ve got to understand like you said, Dan, that the taxpayers are paying you. There is an obligation to do your public duty and you’ve got to lessen privacy things go out the window. You can’t be suing left and right. You can’t be complaining, “It’s an invasion of privacy.” You shouldn’t have married into the Royal family. There’s an argument of that.
Don’t live under the flight path of LAX because they’re going to be planes landing. We know that. If you don’t like noise, don’t live near it. It’s messy for this all to be played out. What will end up happening is she will choose to go to law. They will have to show all the correspondence. They’ll have to show all the phone records. They have to give personal stories away. All of this may come up in court and it’s not pretty.
It’s a shame.
It’s not elegant and it’s not Royal.
We wouldn’t wish it upon anyone and it’s a bit unsavory.
Ironically, she’s going to create a lot more PR than even necessary because isn’t it true? Sometimes it’s best to shut up and go quiet.
Absolutely or have trusted PR people like Richard Branson has had for years that you can fight your battles for you with a position of trust. Maybe they do have people in positions of trust where they can actually go and represent, sit all the editors down and say, “Guys, back off. Let’s recalibrate this.” Reset the mercury in your barometer and you say, “Guys, can you just ease off a bit?” I’m making my own personal opinion here. When the baby was born, they put the time on the birth certificate, which is different from the part they were telling the press. If you start to try to misdirect the press or if you don’t tell them the truth, you will not win. That’s unfortunate.
The British press is like a dog with a bone. Once they get wind of some unjust or non-truthful facts or statements put out there, they’ll keep going until they prove you wrong for the sake of selling paper.
Even just a dog that needs a bone, it’s not pretty. I’m afraid, I don’t think any good will come with this for everyone involved. Actually, they have a good case in law, I suspect. That doesn’t mean it’s a win.
Going back to you, because we heard all about your experiences, some of the fabulous people you’ve represented, the crisis management. What do we see next for Daniel Bee? When he gets back from Ethiopia, what do we see next?
When I come back from Ethiopia, land for one day, go to Costa Rica, go to Miami, come back for one week, go back to London, go into Morocco, and go into Edinburgh. It’s the usual.
Is it Morocco that you own property? Did you tell me that once? I remember at the BABC.
It sounds like a cheap version of the BBC, doesn’t it?
She’s like an elephant. She doesn’t forget anything you tell us you got to be careful.
Along with my brother, Richard. I do own a couple of hotels in Morocco.
Hotels? That’s quite posh.
It sounds like it.
That was very nonchalant like, “I just own a couple of hotels.” No one just owns a couple of hotels. What do you mean? Let’s have a big old promo. What are the hotels and where are they?
One’s in Marrakesh, one’s in Fes, and it’s called Riad Tizwa. It’s very nice.
Is that fun running a hotel or you go and let people manage it and operate and you go stay there once a year for free?
It’s a daily amount of work. We’re very lucky we have a staff of thirteen wonderful local people who are all fantastic.
Tara and I will be sending you our dates because we can use a bit of a Morocco holiday.
Can you tell us the name of the hotels so you can give it a plug?
It’s Riad Tizwa.
Where do people find that? What’s the website?
You can find us on Instagram or on the website.
Maybe what we’ll do is we can offer our audience a special promotion. If you have any, we could put it on our LaLaLanded.com. It’s for anyone’s traveling that way and you’d like to give them a little promo.
La La Landed in Marrakesh, come and visit.
Daniel, it’s been so lovely speaking to you. You’re a wealth of knowledge. We’ve learned a lot.
I feel like Dan’s got many more stories that we have to know about. You’ll have to come back again.
I would come back again. Maybe we should do one from the rooftop of Marrakesh. You’re all welcome.
Thank you so much to our great guest, Daniel Bee. Go check out his fabulous hotels in Marrakesh and be sure to check out LaLaLanded.com for all of our future episodes and any information. Thanks to the lovely Tara Joseph. Daniel Bee, thank you so much.
It’s my great pleasure.
About Daniel Bee
Daniel Bee is a publicist, brand consultant and communications expert who has an established track record in the entertainment, media and arts arenas. He has represented Academy Award Winning Actors and Composers, launched the career of an Award-Winning Director, worked on the most celebrated theatre show in UK history, launched films internationally, has navigated and sculpted many clients in corporate communications and in media management as well as having a strong knowledge of the activist field and nonprofit worlds.
Daniel was voted onto British Academy of Film and Television (BAFTA) in LAin recognition of his work as an executive producer on a live music concert series on network TV, and his work with the Chinese film industry. Bee has an extensive experience and knowledge of social media and marketing that was blended with his broad PR skills when he was the Vice President of a performing arts school in Los Angeles.
Crisis management has always been central to his career and, as such, some of his best work will never be seen. Mind you, a recent scrape with MP Boris Johnston in Summer 2019 during his leadership contest was particularly interesting.
Daniel is also a published author and currently working on his second book.
Current and previous clients include:
- Ink – world’s largest travel media company that creates 32 magazines and content for 26 of the world’s airlines and rail companies.
- Pop artists Derek Boshier and Gerald Laing.
- NeueHouse, the private workspace and cultural home for creators, innovators, and thought-leaders based in NYC and LA.
- Advisor to Michael Ferro the Chairman of Tribune Publishing Company during a hostile takeover bid.
- Sadie Frost, Colin and Livia Firth’s Brightwide, Duncan Jones, John Oliver, Sacha Gervasi, Hugh Hefner, Jessica de Rothschild, Gordon Roddick and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
- Metro Newspapers, Talk Magazine, Playboy, Avalon Management, ICM, The Really Useful Group, Quintessentially, London Films, Money Management and recently an Executive from Lionsgate Films and recently launched the marketplace app Kindred.