April 8, 2015
3 Lessons PR Pros Can Learn from Muppets
Whether you (or your kids!) grew up watching Sesame Street, The Muppet Show or Fraggle Rock, there’s no doubt that Jim Henson’s Muppets are a cultural powerhouse. From Julie Andrews and Steve Martin’s appearances on The Muppet Show to 2014’s star-studded Muppets Most Wanted, the Muppets have a long history of strategic partnerships and perfectly-timed cultural zingers that walk the fine line between current and classic – something any PR practitioner can seek to emulate.
It might sound a little wacky to say that public relations professionals should be listening to a zany gang of puppets, but if you keep an open mind you can be inspired by the most unlikely sources – and that’s the beauty of public relations.
In honor of The Muppet Show reportedly coming back after a 19-year hiatus, we’ve put together a list of the top 3 lessons PR pros can learn from Muppets.
- Collaborate with creative thinkers. While some TV shows rely on a static cast, the Muppets have partnered with actors, comedians, musicians and more to help draw in new audiences, always finding clever ways to play off of recurring skits and pop culture.
- The lesson: PR pros can do the same on a daily level by connecting with creative thinkers to come up with new ways to engage audiences, whether that’s through interesting pitches or putting together something unique for new business opportunities.
- Adapt to new trends – but stay timeless. Sesame Street is on its 45th season at this point – and while the show’s educational goals have remained the same, the format of the show has evolved significantly since its 1969 debut. Sesame Street is now broadcast in more than 140 countries, proving an ability to create a universal experience while treading the fine line between trendy and timeless.
- The lesson: It’s possible to adapt to new trends without adopting them wholeheartedly – and every PR pro should know that what’s hot and trending one day can easily be old news the next, especially with the 24-hour news cycle. Trends can be valuable on social media sites like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, but brand strategy and messaging should be more elevated.
- React to the cultural landscape. Game of Thrones is one of the hottest shows on TV right now, with people all over the United States scrambling to borrow a friend’s HBO Go login, subscribing to HBO Now or finding a viewing party for the April 12 season premiere. While the back-stabbing world of Westeros might seem like a poor fit for the family-friendly Muppets, the “Game of Chairs” in Jesteros is solidly in the Muppet wheelhouse.
- The lesson: Staying current on news and cultural trends is crucial for all PR pros, even if you don’t have the production team at Disney backing you. When it comes down to it, we’re working in the media industry as much as the news industry – it’s critical that we not only recognize that, but stay as up to date as the Muppets on pop culture, industry trends and opportunities to shine.