PR storylines and lessons from the Oscars

3 May 2018 1:00pm

When the Academy Awards ceremony takes place, millions tune into the pageantry and excitement of the big night. Of course, as a PR professional, you'll have your own view of Hollywood's celebration of itself. There are plenty of lessons and useful tactics embedded in the endless campaigns actors, directors, producers and studios wage on behalf of their films. Taking an incisive look at the Oscars is a great way to think about PR in the modern age. Some of the tactics that have brought these particular movies and stars to the top of their industry can help your next campaign take flight.

The big question: Politics

The film industry has to grapple with a thorny topic that your own brand may be facing already: How to deal with the fraught and divided state of American politics in 2017. In the age of social media, companies and stars alike have a platform to speak with their audiences on a direct level. But should these discussions include political elements?

The Los Angeles Times recently delved into whether celebs will talk about politics at the Oscars, and the conflict they express is likely relevant to your own branding discussions. The news source pointed out that in a polarized climate, taking either side of a political debate runs the risk of losing approval from at least some of the population. The answer of what level of speech to engage in then becomes individual.

There is another relevant angle to the debate over whether to be overtly political: The question depends on what role in the ceremony a person is playing. The Times pointed out that while nominees for awards will be performing calculus as to whether or not to be overtly political, hosts throughout awards season have dove in with jokes and criticism for the new administration. Their roles as comedic commentators has made it natural for these individuals not to ignore the elephant in the room. Your brand's overall tone and place in its industry will likewise play a part in whether your audience will be happy to hear a political statement.

Stretching the season

Beyond the tone of discussion on the Oscars stage, the ceremony packs plenty of other trends that will be relevant to your next PR campaign. For instance, Flavorwire pointed out that film executives, eager to reap the benefits of award consideration earlier than in years past, have pushed the start of awards season into August and September, many months before films are even nominated, never mind awarded.

The fact that there is early interest in awards contenders has been exacerbated by the rise of more film-centric media outlets. Writer Anne Thomson told Flavorwire that the increase in coverage has created demand for longer and more intense promotional campaigns, ones that have become a cottage industry within the prestige film space. This, then, is a valuable takeaway for the PR industry: Keep an eye out for new interest in what it is you're selling and you may find great new opportunities.

Avoiding the wrap-up music

One more PR lesson from the Oscars comes from the stars' victory speeches. Health care industry PR pro and FierceHealthcare columnist Jenn Riggle recently pointed out that watching rambling and unplanned remarks from award winners should send a message about how not to craft compelling brand content such as videos and social media posts. When you don't plan out your materials and embrace brevity, you may lose your audience's attention and receive the proverbial wrap-it-up fanfare. A careful eye for detail can transform your campaign for the better.

When you watch the Oscars, enjoy the pageantry and excitement of Hollywood's big night, but also consider how what's happening on stage informs your next PR campaign.

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