He’s Ready For Prime Time

By Eric Rutherford

Jeremy Murphy leaves an indelible impression with his words, presence, and sharpened skills for getting people noticed. At the beginning of the pandemic, he and I first met in 2020, and there was an immediate connection. A publicist and writer always looking for a good story, Jeremy had noticed my “Happy Tuesday” Instagram posts in which I share steps on staying positive and smiling. They meant a lot to him, and so he reached out to me through our mutual friend, Eddie Roche at the Daily Front Row, so he could share his thanks for helping him stay sane and profile me for this very magazine. In his line of work, sanity can often be a fleeting but priceless commodity.

Now, Jeremy has taken all the tools and tricks of staying sane and thriving in the PR world and written them into a collection of prose titled, F*ck Off Chloe! Surviving the OMGs and FMLs in Your Media Career. It’s about the absurd, the amusing, and the darn right obnoxious talents and personalities he’s dealt with in his glorious 14-year career as a publicist. The book, which includes illustrations by artist Darren Greenblatt, is the perfect read for the plane, the beach, or simply when you need a good, laugh-out-loud, chuckle which we all could use right now. Here’s a portion of our conversation, which took place at Jeremy’s favorite haunt, Upper Eastside bar Felice.

What compelled you to write a book? 
Boredom during COVID, Macallan, and having nothing to do. The inspiration came when I wrote a strategy memo for a client in which many people were cc’d, and someone named Chloe replied, “TLDR, LOL!” I didn’t know what that meant, so I Googled it. It means “Too long, didn’t read, lots of laughs.” At first, I was offended, but then I thought, no, that’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. That’s where the book title came from because her name was Chloe, and I was like, F-off, Chloe!

How long have you been in PR? 
I started as a journalist in 1996, and then I went into PR in 2000. 

What prompted you to move?

I love it. Just tell it like it is.
I was at Mediaweek Magazine, and CBS made an offer and doubled my salary. It was not a hard decision.

So, you made the jump. Did you love it?
Not at first, because I think like a journalist; it took a while to like the job because journalists hate PR people. I had to retrain myself and see things through a PR lens. Being a journalist helped because I know how a journalist writes, which gave me a significant advantage. 

Having been in the entertainment industry for years, or on many different sides of it, as a journalist, you’re seeking the truth, you’re trying to find the story, and you’re building it. Whereas with a PR person, you create the truth of what you want to tell. 
We call it truthiness. It’s like a cotton candy version of the truth.

What was one of your highlights of working at CBS?
I created their glossy magazine, Watch, and managed that for ten years. We produced photo shoots around the world, and it was just incredible. I went everywhere—Paris, London, Milan, Florence, Rome, Shanghai, Sydney, even Bora Bora! And then I would go home to eat Cheerios for dinner.

Did you enjoy that or find it stressful?
It was very stressful because a great deal of money and reputations are at stake and, a lot of that can twist and turn on PR. So, there was a trial by fire that I’m glad to have experienced, but I wouldn’t want to go back. 

When you were writing the book, were you laughing or were you… 
I was cracking up. It’s so inappropriate but funny. I even have a chapter about how to be woke.

How to be woke?
This is going to get me in so much trouble. First, tell people you are woke. Then, emote. Be offended once a day. Ignore and discard any opinion that refutes your own. Cancel subscriptions. Friend Rose McGowan. March into protest no matter the cause—shame people who didn’t rescue their dog. Patrol everyone’s jewelry and accessories for cultural appropriation. Don’t shop somewhere, don’t watch something, claim your power, find your voice, identify your oppressor.

Jeremy Murphy with Allison Janney and Anna Farris by Patrick Demarchelier

As much as you’re talking about the absurdities and putting a spotlight on the craziness and the truths, there is a point to this book. And while people are laughing or being offended, they might have a revelation.
That’s why I want everybody to stop and say, “You know what? I’m taking myself too seriously.” Everybody needs to laugh and realize that it’s okay to disagree; it’s okay to find something objectionable without canceling that person. 

Finishing this book during COVID, were you thinking, what am I going to do with it, and is anybody even going to be interested? 
I started making lists of things that annoy me most, and I would post them on the PR and Marketing Czars private Facebook group, and it caught fire. Fortunately, a woman from Skyhorse Publishing, who bought the book, was part of that group. She called me and thought this could be bigger, and I had an offer within a week.

As someone in PR getting ready to promote a product yourself, how hard is it to adapt to new platforms and channels like social media? And where do you see media going? 
I’m torn about this because I see the value in social media, but it’s becoming a garbage pail. You’re getting misinformation, foreign countries manipulating elections, teen suicide because they see someone else’s false reality and feel that they don’t have it, and trolls. I don’t think anybody saw this coming when they created it. I remember when Facebook first came out, I loved it because it allowed me to connect to family and old friends. Now the stuff that people post is horrible and often provokes arguments. People live online and put way too much credence in these false realities.

Jeremy Murphy and Illustrator Darren Greenblatt by Kim Myers Robertson.

Which your book addresses.
Yes, several times. I have a chapter called Reasons Why PR People Drink on page 87. And then, I have a chapter called “How to Interview With Anna.” It’s very complimentary to her. I might one day get eye contact

So why should people buy your book?
 It’s funny! It’s a great way to laugh, and I wrote what you’re thinking, but you’re afraid to say it. It’s so silly and snotty, and I’m not taking anything seriously. I’m just poking fun at stuff.

My final question to you: who do you want to play Chloe in the movie? 
Chloe would be like a Dakota Johnson. Someone who excels at playing vapid. If this ever goes to the screen, I think that my character should be a woman because I believe the interaction between an older man and a young female is just so politicized right now. It could be read so many ways.

Let’s say it’s a limited series on HBO Max, and the character based on you is cast as female. Any thoughts?
 Sarah Paulson would be perfect. Another possibility is Scarlett Johansson. Do you remember when she appeared on Saturday Night Live? She was amazing. Who knew she was so adept at comedy?

I’ll look forward to HBO Max in 2023.
Thank you.
For more information on F**k Off Chloe,