Seven PR Takeaways From Hamilton
Did you catch Hamilton, the Tony Award-winning musical-turned-movie when it premiered on Disney+ earlier this month? The iconic musical tells the story of U.S. founding father Alexander Hamilton, who became George Washington’s right-hand man during the American Revolutionary War and served as the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury.
The production offered more than high-energy entertainment and an important history lesson—it also provided many useful public relations insights, according to Beki Winchel, a social media PR specialist. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we discuss Winchel’s thoughts on the biggest PR lessons from Hamilton.
1. “I am not throwing away my shot.” Hamilton says these words throughout the musical. Winchel says this phrase is what drives him to write, fight for justice, defend his clients and build the nation to match his vision.
PR takeaway: You often only have one shot to successfully pique interest. Prepare carefully, get creative and don’t be afraid to take calculated risks.
2. “If you stand for nothing, Burr, what’ll you fall for?” Rather than taking a stand on important issues, Burr consistently plays it safe. Hamilton struggles to understand this.
PR takeaway: Gone are the days when you could sit out of polarizing conversations to avoid controversy, says Winchel. Instead, consumers and employees are expecting you to support movements such as Black Lives Matter through words and actions.
3. “Have you read this? You ever see somebody ruin their own life?” When Hamilton is approached about embezzling funds, he publishes “The Reynolds Pamphlet” outlining his affair with Maria Reynolds, an indiscretion Reynolds’ husband then used to blackmail Hamilton.
PR takeaway: If mistakes happen, get in front of them. Take responsibility and admit the error, outlining how you will ensure the mistake will not happen again. Winchel says you can get in front of potential pitfalls by providing crisis response drills and regular social media training.
4. “I’m erasing myself from the narrative.” After “The Reynolds Pamphlet” is published, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton burns the letters between her and her husband so that others cannot see her reaction.
PR takeaway: Winchel notes that smart PR pros remember that it’s not all about them or their organization. By focusing on the bigger story—whether it’s a trend, current event, crisis or initiative—you increase your chances of landing media coverage and resonating with your community.
5. “I want to be in the room where it happens.” Burr’s outburst in act two is easily understood by PR pros who want a seat at the decision-making table.
PR takeaway: You can ensure your involvement when big things happen by showing that you are a professional who can expertly communicate. Use data and analytics to uncover audience insights and show the effectiveness of your efforts, says Winchel.
6. “I will never be satisfied.” After meeting Hamilton for the first time and introducing him to her sister, Angelica Schuyler sings this, lamenting over what might have been. She, like Hamilton, knows she will never be satisfied with the way things are.
PR takeaway: Whether it’s creating visually striking content and honing your storytelling skills, or constantly striving for new goals and a higher bar, Winchel encourages professionals to always focus on the horizon. Applaud your victories and use them as inspiration to set data-driven goals.
7. “You have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story.” George Washington’s advice to Hamilton stays with the “young, scrappy and hungry” hero throughout the musical.
PR takeaway: Remember that you don’t control the narrative of your media coverage nor social media engagement.
Hamilton is undoubtedly one of the biggest musical events in recent years. It’s entertaining for sure, but it also offers many timely and powerful lessons for leaders today. Give it another watch and see what fresh insights you take away.
Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: Beki Winchel is a writer who specializes in social media PR. She has worked with companies in a variety of industries to bridge the gap between traditional public relations and digital media.