When public relations comes to mind, most people probably think of Scandal and the infamous Pope and Associates: covering up murders, digging deep down into people’s pasts, and saving client’s reputations right in the nick of time. They solve anything from White House debacles to underground threats to homeland security. Honestly, I don’t know if there’s a crisis the smart and savvy Olivia Pope and her motley crew of gladiators couldn’t solve.
Although we’d love to think that PR is that glamorous, Hollywood tends to make it a bit “sexier” than your everyday PR debacles.
Now I’m not by any means saying that PR is a dry subject matter. Quite the contrary, public relations is pretty exciting– at least to me it is. But Olivia Pope doesn’t quite portray the PR that I have come to know. PR is all about relationship building, storytelling, research, reporting, and, most importantly, maintaining a positive relationship between the public and the client.
Although PR off the screen isn’t quite as glamorous as portrayed on the screen, there are some lessons we can learn from Pope and Associates. Here are a few:
1. Publicity is a marathon, not a sprint.
Even though most of Pope’s debacles are solved in a matter of hours or days, some of them require months of deliberation, collaboration, and strategic thinking. Example: getting Fitz voted to Presidential office. In the real world of PR, most jobs are ongoing and call for an immense time commitment. PR isn’t an industry where the problem and solution come full circle in a few hours. The work I’ve done thus far has been based on long-term reputation management, which is continuous. So if it’s not crisis management, you can afford to stick to a slow jog.
2. Connect to the media.
It seems like every other scene, Pope is calling for a press release for some business or another. Whether Abby is twisting a story, Olivia is divulging a blatant truth, or a client is making an empowering speech, the media is always present. Everything in PR revolves around the media because they’re the ones to build relationships with. You need to accurately and favorably reflect the issues presented and have the media do the same. So start connecting, otherwise no one will know your stories exist.
3. Go, go go.
Pope is always on the move. The only time she sits down is to discuss business with someone on a bench in Lafayette Park. Although Bravo Group manages to hold meetings in offices, the same idea is there– we’re always on the move. And with all the work that goes on, it’s surprising we can take a breath. The world is constantly revolving and evolving, news is constantly being made, and opinions are always being shared. PR needs to keep up with this stream of occurrences.
4. Rely on your team.
Pope and Associates are a team– simple as that. They need each other to solve their seemingly impossible issues. At Bravo Group, there’s a similar mentality. Everyone works together and, more importantly, they need each other. There’s a tangible “two heads are better than one” mentality. Yes, we go to our separate offices and work on separate assignments, but all the work comes together in the end: government relations mixes with creative, creative mixes with research, research mixes with communications and so on and so forth. To be a successful PR agency, collaboration, synergy, and teamwork are key.
Here’s a confession: when I was offered the chance to intern at Bravo Group, I thought it would be similar to the jobs Pope and Associates take on. I’m discovering that mine is comparably exciting and maybe even a little bit better.
Emily Smedley || Wayne Intern