5 Things PR Pros Can Learn From Halloween

Aren't Halloween hangovers fun in PR?

Wasn’t that fun?!

Prepubescent angst and hipster-wannabes parading in your flower beds for a chance to get a real-size Snickers? Your kids staying up late because of the impending diabetic coma thanks to all that sugar?

Ah yes. The joys of trick-or-treating and Halloween. And while you throw away all those leftover Rice Krispies treats that no one ate at your holiday office party, did you know there are some valuable public relations lessons to glean from this frightful day?

Without further a-BOO, here are the #5Things PR pros can learn from Halloween:

1. Comfort Zones are for Kids. 

comfort zoneThere is a good amount to be said about a safe zone or comfort zone during the All Hallows’ Eve festivities. If your kids are in a big group, parents are forbidden because there are no cool points for those with chaperones. So, you establish the “comfort zone” — where they are permitted to roam and where they have to return. On a related note, those are no bueno in PR.

Comfort zones should not exist in the random agency cube farm. Your team should always consider ways to bring your agency and, most importantly, your clients out of the shallow end where they can feel the water and splash into the deep end where they can’t touch the bottom. “Well, we need to keep it safe.” Whatevs. Messaging should be kept safe. Where you place that message should be ingenious. Try it sometime.

2. Urban Legends Really Do Live in the Burbs. 

From Jason to Freddy, to the ‘House on the Hill’ and the ‘Cabin in the Woods,’ Halloween is a utopian playground for the deranged and twisted. Slasher films abound because of the urban legend, and they are typically found in a tucked-away rural community home where only the dead will mingle.

And while the idiot cheerleaders always run in slow motion from the acclaimed ne’er-do-well screaming in complete sentences, we are reminded that the urban legend is only reserved for those remote locations. In the world of PR, there are urban legends too, but they only exist where everyone else is located.

The successful newsjacking of the cover story in a major daily or even the unicorn and chupacabra love child located at the end of a rainbow, the viral video — these all have one thing in common. They all came from team development. If you are brazen enough to think one person did this on his or her own, get in another line of work that doesn’t require a team.

Like, something in the custodial arts because that’s probably where all your work ends up anyway.

3. Don’t Expect “Thank Yous.”

Those damn kids. They rap on your door like they are trying to get free from somewhere, trample on your decor outside, take all your candy, and rarely say those two words that make it all worth it. No, not “trick” and “treat.” I mean “thank” and “you.” Is that so hard to ask? Self-entitled brats. Oughta’ be a law, amirite?

Much can be said in the oftentimes thankless world of public relations. Clients pay you, so all that success is your job. Why say “thank you” and the magic word “please”? You’re supposed to do that. Many agency rats can regretfully say the same thing for the cats in the corner office. They aren’t the most grateful people around.

When you are pining away at your latest draft of a strategy document, remember that in public relations… the public rarely care to relate to you. If you get some gratitude, it’s icing on the cake. If not, it’s par for the course. So just be thankful you are playing golf on that course, m’kay?

4. Dressing Things Up Isn’t Always a Good Practice

inappropriate-kid-children-costumes-101Costume parties at work are why we can’t have nice things. Thanks to the few schmucks in creative (we usually are the culprits), there is always that fun catch-phrase spoken by your PR director or office suck-up: “Workplace Appropriate.” The one party girl who decides to wear to work what she traipses into the club wearing to that one dude who went as a condom — all agencies have them, much to our chagrin.

Another thing that all agencies have is the PR practitioner who decides to dress up pitches with banal jargon, senseless fluff, and crap most reporters blacklist. MEMO if that’s you: We don’t like you much.

Journalists like three things in a pitch in case you missed this in your orientation: brevity, transparency, and accuracy. Knowing who you are pitching usually takes care of those needs. Sucking at your job usually doesn’t. Just sayin’.

5. Tricks Still Have a Nice Effect 

Hand-Candy-DishEvery once in a while, someone breaks out an actual trick during the annual sugar rush. It could be from a budding magician looking to show off for the locals or someone with too much time on his or her hands, angling for friends. Whatever the case, it’s a nice way to break up the monotony.

Stunts are the same way in PR. Some agencies are factories for stunts. Whether it’s a simple announcement or a national campaign, if this agency doesn’t avail itself to some sort of shtick, they feel useless. Who knows why. Maybe it’s a zeal for awards because you can never have too many paperweights. Possibly because they don’t teach storytelling so have to make-believe instead.

However, when an agency can pull out a stunt more as an “in case of amazeballs, break glass,” it really wakes people up and causes folks to pay attention. Stunts can have a nice effect, sometimes. When stunts are done just to be done, you become Evel Knievel. Sure, he’s famous… but he’s dead, so there’s that.


Publish date: November 2, 2015 https://dev.adweek.com/digital/5-things-pr-pros-can-learn-from-halloween/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT