December 2, 2015
If you are friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, you know full well what my newest obsession is — Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical, Hamilton. I started to consider how the musical and the story of Alexander Hamilton highlight important aspects of communications and public relations.
If you are friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, you know full well what my newest obsession is — Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical, Hamilton. (You have to see Hamilton!) Now I wasn’t on the bandwagon as early as when it was killing it off-Broadway, but I proudly saw it during previews on The Great White Way and I’m headed back again in December.
I’ve essentially been playing the soundtrack daily since it came out and I’m eagerly trying to memorize every word. I listen to it on the bus, subway and walking home with one ear bud in, so I can sing along to the “Ten Duel Commandments.” So I was thrilled that I’d be able to enjoy the whole soundtrack during my Thanksgiving travels – yes! As I listened at 30,000 feet while finishing up some work, I started to consider how the musical and the story of Alexander Hamilton highlight important aspects of communications and public relations.
Here’s my in-flight reflection on key themes that apply to my work:
*The importance of well-rounded knowledge of many different topics – Miranda’s merging of history, musical theatre and rap / hip-hop shows how powerful an array of interests can be in creating something that breaks through to people in an impactful way. We consider ourselves a generalist PR agency at CooperKatz and I’ve always felt it’s a benefit to be able to work across a variety of industries. Some practitioners like to specialize in a specific sector. I like to specialize in communications first, allowing me to explore a number of different spaces like real estate, pets, toys, advertising technology, sustainability, etc. I think this makes me a better PR executive and our company a more valuable partner for our clients.
*The importance of the written and spoken word – Lin-Manuel Miranda connects with Alexander Hamilton on a personal level – both men are famous for understanding that words are powerful and can inspire change. Miranda spent years perfecting every word of the musical to ensure that it honored Hamilton appropriately. And as a founding father and right-hand man to George Washington, Hamilton’s own power of the pen was critical to the creation of our country. Now in the 21st century, as advertising, marketing and public relations continue to converge like never before, PR clearly has the upper hand in terms of effective written and spoken communications. We can and should be a leader for the C-suite when it comes to communicating with a range of audiences, across many different mediums.
*The importance of stories that connect – From the first line of the show, Miranda has you hooked.
“How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence, impoverished in squalor, grow up to be a hero and a scholar?”`
With that one compelling question, we immediately want to learn more. And that’s what we must do in PR. If we take time to reflect on the kinds of stories of interest to each of us, personally, then we will be more likely strike a chord with others in our communications.
This last point may be my most significant PR takeaway from Hamilton. The final song is titled, “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?” I’ve always felt we have a responsibility in PR, in both small and big ways, to use communications to effectively inform, educate and creatively inspire people. That’s a lofty expectation. Yet maybe this is why Lin-Manuel Miranda’s storytelling has resonated so much with me.
And I’m not the only one who’s been inspired; it’s created a huge buzz. In every interview, Miranda exudes passion for his craft and storytelling.
Aside from my obsession with Hamilton, as geeky as it may seem, I also continue to be obsessed with communications and public relations. I guess it’s a good thing that it is my day job.
And as my plane descends down into “the greatest city in the world” I’m reinvigorated to take on another day as a public relations professional because “I’m not throwing away my shot!”
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