PR Lessons From The First Season of Babylon

We like this one. Catch it on demand if you can.

Babylon, the Sundance Channel UK import that we’ve been talking about here on PRNewser, has wrapped its first season of six episodes. And we’re pretty excited for season two.

The show is very much focused on the ins and outs of modern PR, making it a unique find. If you aren’t overloaded with TV shows to watch, find it on demand and check it out.

If you aren’t so inclined, here are some of the primary takeaways from season one that you can take with you to the office.

PR is not for the squeamish. There will be times when you have to make some tough decisions. You’re dealing with serious issues for your organization/client. Your job is at stake. The jobs of others might be at stake. Public trust can be at stake as well. If you can’t take this sort of stress, maybe another career path (with a different collection of stresses) are a better fit for you.

Your title shouldn’t stop you from the PR win. Finn tells Liz (the two characters in the clip above) that she’s a “figurehead” who needs to check with him before making public moves. But technically, she’s the one in charge with the higher title. There’s definitely a chain of command, but what’s most important is getting the job done. And if that means taking some initiative, that could be the best course of action.

Threats to reputation can be large or small. A misplaced tweet can bring down an effort. A 200-word article in a tabloid can throw a whole reputation into question. Be honest and forthright, but also be diligent. Keep an eye out for what’s being said so you can correct the record when necessary.

Diversity must be actively pursued. On the program, the team is looking for a successor to the London Police Commissioner Richard Miller, who committed suicide. One of the candidates is Assistant Commissioner Charles Inglits, who is Black. Another is Assistant Commissioner Sharon Franklin, who is a woman. The rest are all older white men. “It looks like the audience at a Genesis concert,” says Finn. If you want to be more inclusive, you have to seek out diverse people and personalities to bring that to life.

Take risks, but be prepared for the consequences. You want to be creative and innovative. That means doing things in new ways, which can lead to mishaps. First off, keep your brand and your company capabilities in mind; you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. But second, have a plan for any mistakes.

Don’t get ahead of your team. It’s one thing to take risks and to be sophisticated with your strategies and tactics. It’s another thing to get too far ahead of the people you’re working with. Even now, there are folks who are afraid to venture too far in the digital pool. Take baby steps. Pushing people past their limits not only leads to friction, but it puts people in situations that they aren’t prepared to manage.

Remember that you and the people you deal with are humans. This is business and, as we’ve said, there are big things at stake. But you’re working with people who can tell when you’re spinning like a top. Transparency, understanding and straight talk are the basics for communicating.