5 PR Tips from Our Favorite Flicks

It’s October, which means we’re all watching a solid mix of scary movies and TV shows. This year, I got to thinking that sometimes horror flicks and public relations might not be all that different after all. Not in an ‘avoid hitchhikers,’ or ‘don’t go down to the basement’ sense, but in how some of our favorite characters deal with their problems. So, this Halloween, I decided to grab the popcorn and jot down some top tips PR professionals can learn from their favorite pop-culture horror TV shows and movies.


BE PREPARED — Plan for the worst, keep your team and resources close, and watch your back.

If there is one thing to learn from Ryan Murphy’s new installment of American Horror Story: Apocalypse, it’s that planning is key. This season, the world has come to an end and the human race is trying to endure. With nuclear winter upon them, the characters in this season soon realize that without preparation, they’d all be out of luck. From keeping their underground shelter a secret, to building a strong team and stockpiling resources, the characters need to make sure that they’ve considered every potential situation and proactively mitigated all foreseeable challenges.

Same with PR. Without a well-crafted plan, it’s possible that everything will fall to pieces and your client’s next PR crisis will begin to unfold right before your eyes.


DO YOUR RESEARCH — Make sure all of your bases are covered.

While we may not have to worry about the world ending and being taken over by man-eating monsters, the family in A Quiet Place does. And they aren’t taking any chances as they battle these creatures alone. They survive because John Krasinski has done his homework. He’s studied the monsters. Taken notes on them. Researched their strengths, weaknesses and social media feeds. Because of his due diligence, he’s able to protect his family and make sure they don’t make a mistake that ends up costing them their lives.

This level of research is what can set apart an excellent PR pro from the rest. Without knowing the intricacies of a reporter’s beat, a specific industry, policy or a client’s work, we’re likely to fail. And while we may not end up dead because of it, we’ll certainly embarrass ourselves and underdeliver for our clients.


BUILD STRONG RELATIONSHIPS — Foster friendships that will help guide you through difficult moments.

In Stranger Things, the upside down is not where you want to be. Period. But in order to save their friend Eleven, the boys of Hawkins, Indiana will do anything, even if it means dealing with this magical underworld. Through their clever antics and willingness to work as a team, they get to the bottom of what awaits them in the scary unknown, and make their way out. Without these boys, Eleven would have been stuck, in more ways than one. Her relationships saved her.

Though we’re not dealing with the upside down in PR, our relationships are equally as important. Whether we’re working with reporters to place a story, developing a relationship with our client or simply building an internal team for a new campaign, without strong relationships, we wouldn’t be able to deliver.


TAKE ACTION — Take charge of the problem, and try your best to solve it.

In the town of Derry, a group of teenagers become entangled in a string of horrific experiences when a demonic spirit in the form of a clown returns to take its vengeance on the community. In It, after the disappearance of his younger brother Georgie, Bill and his friends trek down to the sewers to rescue him. Finally understanding that the clown feeds on fear, the kids are able to defend themselves and prepare for his return.

In PR, we’re faced with a number of challenges that can be difficult to solve, but with a driven team, anything is possible. While it may not be as serious as a killer clown, it is important to take the bull by the horns and overcome adversity by taking smart action.


LEARN WHEN TO MOVE ON AND TRY SOMETHING NEW — Be persistent, but know when it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

In the early 2000’s thriller Paranormal Activity, a couple moves into a home they believe to be possessed by ghosts. After some seriously bizarre events, rather than fleeing their home, the couple decides to film themselves throughout the night in hopes of catching something. Unfortunately, their determination to see the issue wasn’t so much admirable as it was misguided. In the end, this had a less than ideal ending for the characters, i.e. death.

If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. But don’t try again and again and again and again. Ultimately, if something isn’t working it’s probably a sign you need to get creative, think outside the box and try something new. Tow the line between persistent and practical and learn when it’s time to move on… unlike the family in Paranormal Activity.