TV teaching moments for marketing and PR

Our favorite shows enthrall us with witty dialogue, gripping narratives and exciting plot twists – enough to keep us watching all day long. But can they also make us better at our jobs?

The K-team compiled a list of favorite shows, each with their own appeal, and yes, lessons that hold true in the workplace.

The Simpsons - Be real, respect your audience

Recently renewed for a record-breaking 30th season, this cartoon-giant uses slapstick comedy to examine contemporary culture and address difficult topics like social stereotypes, politics and religion. What’s the takeaway here? The show does not shy away from tough situations and effectively uses humor and satire to take the conversation from uncomfortable to laughable. It addresses issues head on, enabling an open, productive dialogue while using humor as a tool to handle potentially sensitive subjects.

Black Mirror - How to navigate an oversaturated digital market

Black Mirror is a Netflix sci-fi series that looks closely at our codependent and often contradictory relationship with technology and media. In the world of PR and marketing, new media and technology is an ever-changing, inevitable presence as brands strive for that perfect digital identity. But Black Mirror reminds us to think critically about the ways in which we weave media and technology into our work and life, asking “Is this for the greatest benefit of all?” For example, read our last blog post about why print isn’t dead in B2B.

Grace and Frankie - Know your target audience and keep it real

Two women become unlikely friends as they try to navigate the world of divorce in their seventies. As such, Grace and Frankie commands a strong following in the baby boomer population because it offers a realistic portrayal of the demographic. In an industry focused on youth, baby boomers are targeted for less than 5 percent of advertising. The show doesn’t stereotype the age group and bluntly addresses topics like sex, age and family. Millennials love it too, with Miley Cyrus praising the show for featuring such strong female characters. So we’ve established Grace and Frankie offers a breath of fresh air, but what’s the marketing takeaway? Easy – audiences love messages that are honest and authentic. Keep it real with marketing and audiences respond.

The Office - Business as a human practice

Michael Scott may be a paragon of poor management, but he does get a few things right. Despite being chronically inefficient and inappropriate, he recognizes the value of human connection, demonstrated by hand-delivering clients gift baskets or writing individualized notes about each client in his Rolodex. It reminds us of our favorite saying about B2B marketing: that B2B is just B2C when the audience is sitting in their chair at work. Business still boils down to interactions between people. 

Archer - Cultural relevance and authenticity 

Part James Bond, Austin Powers and South Park, Archer follows the exploits of cartoon secret agent Sterling Archer and his cohorts. It traverses several historical eras with a signature style of gut-busting satire marked by crude humor and pithy dialogue. The show is brash and entertaining, and uses its style to bluntly address race, gender, family dynamics, inequality, romantic relationships, U.S. foreign policy and even mental health. While the show executes tongue-in-cheek one-liners with surgical precision, and Sterling is an outlandish, morally bankrupt character, the show grounds itself in common day-to-day struggles and cultural references that viewers find familiar. This makes the show not only relatable, but also adds an important layer of authenticity - a key component of the show and brand’s success.

Broad City - Standing out in a saturated market

Growing from humble origins as a web series to its current status as a hit comedy show, Broad City follows two women in their twenties trying to discover themselves as they navigate the “real world” in New York City. Creators and co-stars Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson acted as their own PR team while getting the original web series off the ground, reaching out to bloggers and writers to grow the show’s following. Originally on YouTube, the web series gathered enough exposure, shares and likes to capture Amy Poehler’s attention, which led to her starring in the web series finale and producing the TV show. The show’s growth is a testament to the power of earned media, especially when working with a limited promotional budget. Knowing the subject matter, believing in it and a thorough, well-informed outreach strategy can lead to life-changing connections.

Regardless of what’s playing in your Netflix queue, don’t overlook the opportunity to analyze entertainment through a marketing and PR lens. It’s a beneficial skill that turns weekend binge watching into weekday productivity.