Public Relations(5)

By: Katie Heaney

“Are you planning to sit?” asked Ryan. Sam and Keiran exchanged looks, and I felt my face flush as I scrambled to pull a chair out from the table.

“As I was saying,” said Ryan, “we’re grateful to you both for making the time to meet with us. Archie, I know you’re mid-tour, so—”

“Sorry, what’s your name?” asked Archie.

I was busy setting up my laptop to take notes, so it took me a moment of collective silence to realize that Archie had been talking to me. I looked up.

“Oh,” said Ryan, “that’s—she’s just—she’s just here on Joanna’s behalf. Joanna sends her apologies, of course, we—”

“Rose,” I said. I was blushing again, but Archie was still looking at me, and even though I had been told not to speak I figured I was allowed to answer direct questions. This one, at least.

“Rose,” Archie repeated. “I’m Archie.”

“I know,” I said, sounding a bit more irritated than I had intended. I was surprised to see a slight twitch around his mouth. He leaned back into his chair, folding his arms across his chest, so that the thin arrow that stretched across his tattoo-covered right forearm formed a perfect parallel with the conference table.

“Right,” interjected Ryan. “So, as I was saying, thrilled to have you here. We’ve got a few excellent outreach ideas that will really get the momentum going ahead of the album release. I think you’re really going to love them. Keiran, you want to start?”

“Absolutely,” said Keiran, directing that shit-eating grin of his toward Archie before taking a folder from a small stack that sat on the table next to him. Because he worked primarily under Ryan, Keiran usually worked with actors, but I’d always had the feeling he wanted to switch to music, and now I was sure of it. “Mission 5 has shown serious interest in having you as a spokesmodel, which we think is a great fit.” Like a slow-motion car wreck, I watched Keiran open the folder to reveal a series of mock-up print ads featuring Archie Fox’s face Photoshopped onto the bodies of models wearing Mission 5’s trademark bro-tastic beachwear.

“I don’t know…” Archie began, pausing for what felt like a full minute before closing his mouth again.

“I don’t think we’re interested in the spokesmodel approach,” said his manager, smiling tightly. Under the table, I did a quick Google search for Archie Fox manager. Maria Bird. Right, I thought, remembering hearing Joanna speak in half-frustrated, half-admiring tones about the blunt, no-nonsense Maria.

“It’s great visibility,” said Keiran, grinning again as the vein in his forehead that showed up when he was challenged by anyone appeared. “Mission 5 has great recognition for the thirteen-to-seventeen demo.”

Thirteen-to-seventeen-year-old boys, I thought. And no one, of any gender, over the age of sixteen thought Mission 5 was cool. I didn’t care what Keiran’s market research said. He was wrong, and I knew it, but I bit my tongue. Joanna had told me to be silent.

“Let’s hear the next one,” said Archie, with a curt nod.

“Of course,” said Keiran. “Modeling’s not your thing. Got it.”

“You sure have the hair for it, though!” said Sam. At that, I probably winced visibly.

“Ah, well, thanks, mate,” said Archie. Then, before I had time to look away, he looked right at me—just for a second, without moving his head, and so fast I could have convinced myself I was crazy. I looked back at my notepad.

“All right,” said Keiran, shuffling through the folders. “Sam? Do you…?”

“Have you considered vlogging?” asked Sam.

Much to my horror, I snorted. I immediately tried to play it off as a cough, but one glance in Archie’s direction confirmed that he, at least, did not buy it.

“Vlogging?” he asked with, to his credit, an almost-believable look of consideration. This apparently was invitation enough for Sam to dive right in.

“Video blogging. It’s the most direct and efficient route to your audience,” he said, passing a one-sheet around the table. “Mikey Trick, for example, started a weekly video-diary-style show three months ago—single camera, low production cost—and since then, his subscribers have nearly tripled.”

“His YouTube subscribers, you mean,” said Archie with one eyebrow raised. Keiran and Sam exchanged nervous glances, but Ryan apparently got the point.

“Which, of course, isn’t exactly where you need more of a following.”

“Right,” Sam said. “Your YouTubers love you. I’ve seen the videos of the, like, ten-year-old girls going fucking nuts screaming and crying. Insane!” He laughed, a series of truncated honks, and leaned in toward Archie clearly hoping to bond. But Archie only replied with a close-lipped smile. “Ah, but, um—” Sam cleared his throat. “—that doesn’t mean there aren’t more kids out there who could fall in love with you, too!” Kids? I couldn’t believe the tone Sam was taking. If Archie’s fans had been teenage boys rather than girls, he (and Keiran, for that matter) would have taken this assignment more seriously. I was sure of it.

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