Every year, there’s one must-watch holiday movie in my family – Disney’s The Muppet Christmas Carol. Something about the familiar, enduring story of Dicken’s holiday tale reimagined by Kermit, Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear just works. Much like the combination of Sir Michael Caine, Victorian England and the Muppets, a partnership between a company and the right PR agency can lead to long-term success. In fact, lessons from a few of my favorite characters can show us what a company should look for when hiring a PR agency.
“Storytellers are omniscient”
In the Muppet Christmas Carol, none other than the Great Gonzo is tasked to fill the shoes of the narrator and storyteller, Sir Charles Dickens. He explains his ability to know everything going on between characters off-screen with a simple statement: “Storytellers are omniscient.”
Now, what is PR if not storytelling? Look for PR professionals who are familiar with your story and willing to continue learning the ins and outs of your history, products and goals. Any agency who doesn’t understand your story nearly as well as you do won’t be able to retell it in compelling ways to customers, stakeholders and partners.
“We forged these chains in life through our acts of greed”
In the Muppets’ adaptation of Christmas Carol, Scrooge is forced to reckon with the ghost of not one but two business partners. That’s right, Jacob & Robert Marley (played by Statler & Waldorf, those Muppets who always show up to heckle from a balcony somewhere) show up, in chains of course to symbolize their greed and obstinance, to warn Scrooge of his fate, should he continue on his current path.
Now, while the stakes are arguable a bit lower than eternal damnation, companies never want to be chained in by communications strategies or partners. Maybe you’re looking for an agency to break you from outdated ideas and efforts. A good partner will be comfortable vetting your existing efforts and pushing you to explore the best new PR strategies.
“My mind is full of the here and now”
My personal favorite part of this movie is Scrooge’s visit from the Ghost of Christmas Present. He’s only concerned with the here and now and helps Scrooge relate to the world around him, his family and colleagues in ways he was unable to before.
The best PR agencies have a strong sense of the here and now. In this case, the ‘now’ is not the magical spirit of the holiday season, it’s the industry your company operates in. Your agency should know what reporters, competitors and customers are currently talking about and seek out ways to bring your executives into these conversations.
“If you want to know the measure of a man, simply count his friends”
This line is sung by Scrooge near the end of the movie. You know the situation – after a harrowing night of ghost lessons, he’s awake and, miraculously, it’s still Christmas Day. One of the biggest lessons Scrooge is ready to implement in his new life is the value of friendships and relationships over money and power.
Along with storytelling, relationship building is a crucial pillar of any PR effort. Ask any potential agency what industry contacts they already have and how they plan to further these connections to bring value to their work with you. This concept extends beyond media relationships, your PR team should want to build relationships with company spokespeople to better understand how their expertise and goals translate to media relations campaigns.
The Muppet Christmas Carol is available to stream on Disney+ and the FischTank team is available to discuss your PR objectives whenever you’re ready – firstname.lastname@example.org.