PR Worthy Tips from SCANDAL

scandalWe may as well declare October 3rd – National Scandal Day! Thousands around the country will be glued to their television sets tonight as the Shonda Rhimes’ drama premieres its third season. While Scandal is filled with infidelity, political rush and drama, there are some great tips PR pros can learn from the hit series.

Act fast

Olivia Pope is faced with different crises each episode. The moment she learns about all the parameters, she puts herself and her team to work. As we watch, we smile with confidence when you hear Olivia say, “it’s handled!” When handling a crisis, it is important to act within the golden hour of crisis response and fully control the agenda. Seize the crisis before you allow it to seize you.

Cater to each situation 

Crisis management should be based on the “uniqueness” of each situation. There’s never a dull moment at OPA with the crises that come their way, but the team approaches each knowing that the circumstances are all different. In Helio Garcia’s book The Power of Communication, he builds on the U.S. Marine Corps’ publication Warfighting and quotes, “We should base our decisions on awareness rather than on mechanical habit. Rather we must act on a keen appreciation for the essential factors that make each situation unique instead of from a conditioned response.”

Never become a part of the story

With every television show, there is a flaw. But in every flaw there is a lesson. As a crisis manager, Olivia Pope should know that you (the fixer) never become a part of the story. Oddly enough, the OPA team finds their way into each story allowing their actions or behavior to add to the challenge faced by their client.  OPA believes in any means necessary to protect their client, even if it means forgoing ethics – which brings me to my next point…

Ethics Trumps Everything

Public relations professionals know that ethics are essential to the integrity of the industry. PRSA defines PR as “a strategic communications process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics” and ethics is the foundation of this process. You can see in Scandal that the team’s ethical decisions sometimes catch up to them. Again, in every flaw there is a lesson.

Scandal has drawn us in, so tonight as you watch Olivia’s secret unfold note all the PR worthy tips!

Natasha J. BenjaminNatasha J. Benjamin is a public relations strategist and the Director of Communications for the Black Public Relations Society of New York. Natasha consults non-profits and small businesses within the arts, communication and creative industries on social media strategies and brand management. She is also the co-founder of Epitome of Soul, Inc. – a 501(c)(3) performing arts non-profit organization. She holds a Master of Science in Public Relations and Corporate Communication from New York University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and African American Studies from Syracuse University. Connect with her further via Twitter!