16 Apr 2014

Pearls of PR wisdom from Mad Men

Season 7 of the fantastic Mad Men returns to British TV screens tonight at 10pm on Sky Atlantic. Needless to say, we at Roaring Mouse are pretty excited about this.

Don Draper isn’t a PR guy and the media environment at his disposal is nowhere near as varied and sophisticated as the one we see today, but he does demonstrate a fantastic understanding of communication strategy.

So in honour of what will be the final series of one of the most stylish and compelling shows in TV history, we’ve compiled Don’s top 7 pearls of wisdom that are relevant to any organisation wanting to use PR, content marketing and social media to get seen and heard by those they want to do business with.

Here they are, alongside our take on what they can teach us about communication today:

1. “Why does everybody need to talk about everything?”

People love to talk. You and your business will be talked about by those you employ and do business with, whether you like it or not. If you want them to talk about you in a way that is positive then help them out by providing positive stories for them to talk about.

2. “You want some respect? Go out and get it for yourself.”

If you don’t talk about what you do and why you are different then people will form their own assumptions and make up their own truths about your business. Accentuate your positives and present them to your audiences in a way that is easy to digest. This will help you get the respect you deserve.

3. “Success comes from standing out, not fitting in.”

The world is full of grey corporations and run-of-the-mill businesses doing very similar things to everyone else. Get the attention you deserve by being different, highlighting what you do that nobody else does and making that sound as exciting as (realistically) possible. Be compellingly different and better.

4. “Change is neither good nor bad, it simply is.”

The world changes constantly and we all need to evolve simply to keep up. Some of the best B2B PR campaigns are based around businesses helping their customers and prospects stay on top of the new challenges and issues they face. Forecast the future, demonstrate your understanding of the changes your audiences face, paint a simple picture as to how they can stay ahead of game and articulate how your services are fit for the future.

5. “I’m glad that this is an environment where you feel free to fail.”

OK so Don was being critical of a poor idea brought to him by his creative team, but this quote is most telling. Businesses that create outstanding communication campaigns standout in the minds of those they want to do business with by doing things that haven’t been done before. ‘Safe’ ideas and tactics have a role, but should be executed alongside higher risk, higher impact activities. If your people and your agency are fearful of trying new ideas your promotional activities will struggle to have an impact.

6. “You don’t cover for me. You manage people’s expectations.”

This is terrific advice, not just for PR, but for business in general. People like optimists and positive language is a must in any proactive campaign, but setting unrealistic expectations for future performance will result in anything but stellar success being seen as a failure.

7. “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.”

Do those you want to do business see you as dull, ordinary or a failure? Then you won’t be able to hire or retain the best talent, investors will ignore you and your customers will leave in droves as and when a more compelling alternative appears. Sitting in silence is not the answer. Get on the front foot and provide evidence to the contrary. Changing a conversation focused on failure can be as simple as demonstrating the support and endorsement of those you already do business with.