I know the “Balloon Boy” story is basically done, but I read a really interesting piece over the weekend by Wall Street Journal writer Eric Felten. In “The Kids Stay in the Picture—Sadly Enough,” (WSJ, October 23, 2009) regarding this very strange case of a family who tried way too hard to make a place in the spotlight.
He makes a good case for remembering the kind of exploitation of children that so many reality shows sort of gloss over. Or maybe it’s just the parents who don’t care. I do know this: if I were doing PR for a reality show, I’d be a little worried. Maybe a few press releases flew out of their publicity departments and perhaps in the days following the Balloon Boy episode child psychiatrists made the rounds on all the talk shows, but what will happen now?
Surely, at least a few will write books and it’s quite possible that the Heene family might very well get their own reality show after all this. Still, if you have any clients who might be able to offer some real insight into what it means when parents exploit their children, this is the time to be pitching the media. Just because Balloon Boy and his family will hopefully fade away reality shows and the exploitation of kids are, unfortunately, here to stay. It would be nice (in my humble opinion) if the experts (and you) could shine a light on the negative impact this trend is having on kids. Really, can you think of anything nice about it?