PR lessons we can learn from Shakespeare

Our Senior Account Executive, Megan Morgan gives us the low-down on what Shakespeare can teach us about PR.

If you’ve ever told a knock knock joke, fought fire with fire, not slept a wink or worn your heart on your sleeve, you have Shakespeare to thank.

This week marks the annual national celebration of Britain’s most famous bard. Alongside his impact on the English language and his plays which have stood the test of 400 years, here’s our take on the top five PR lessons we can learn from his work:

  1. Much Ado About Nothing – Shakespeare’s turbulent romance with a heavy dose of double-crossing shows us our reputation is worth a lot. A smear to your brand’s good name can wreak havoc. In times of crisis – reputation can be saved with a prompt response. Just look at KFC’s recent chicken shortage as an example; much ado about a lack of deep fried poultry nipped in the bud with a quick statement. If only poor Hero had a PR team!
  2. Macbeth – ‘What’s done cannot be undone’. Ever sent a release with a typo? Ever spelled a name wrong? Attention to detail, research and fact-checking are quick fixes that prevent red-faced corrections or apologies later on. Failing to do so can be disastrous. Adidas learned this lesson in 2017 when they sent out an ill-titled mailer to participants in the Boston Marathon. An apology was issued, but such is the 21st century, the blunder will forever be immortalised on the internet.
  3. Romeo and Juliet – ‘Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast’. Planning is key. Don’t rush into a campaign, an event or issuing a release without planning thoroughly. This is where devising a PR strategy comes in: Who are you? What do you want to achieve? How will you get there? Coming back to your strategy helps anchor your PR activity and prevents any hashed together last minute ditch attempts. Like floating something down the Thames for example.
  4. Hamlet – ‘To thine own self be true’. Your brand story is who you are. Making sure key messages are reflected in copy is a key part of public relations. With any campaign plan – make sure you stay true to the client. If you’re representing a serious organisation with traditional values – don’t try and be quirky. Tongue in cheek PR will probably fall flat. London Dungeon should have considered this when they ran a not-so-side-splitting Jack the Ripper themed campaign that did more to offend its family clientele than bring in business.
  5. King Lear – ‘Nothing will come of nothing’. Nothing will happen unless you try to make it happen. You can’t expect reams of news coverage or millions of retweets by doing nothing to create a buzz. That’s where PR comes in. Media relations, stakeholder engagement and social media plans can help get your brand on the map and get tongues wagging. As Bill Gates once said: “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on PR.” It’s powerful stuff.