PR Lessons From The Ton

Dearest reader, this blog has been a bit heavy recently, hasn’t it? So, having just binged watched the second season of Bridgerton to within an inch of my life, I thought that today, I’d write about the PR lessons we can all take from the Ton – of which they are many.

Warning: MAY contain spoilers?!

In a series entirely different from the last, what piqued my interest was not Anthony’s see through white shirt or sexy one-liners, but in fact how Penelope and Madam Delacroix’s relationship surrounding the Lady Whistledown pamphlets expanded to the promotion of the Modiste in town.

This big PR nerd was super excited to see that storyline pan out.

3 Things Bridgerton Teaches Us About PR

In case you’ve not watched season 2 yet (in which case, WHAT are you doing reading this?) or if you’ve never watched Netflix’s favourite period drama before at all, then you may need a little run down on what I’m talking about.

Lady Whistledown is an anonymous pamphlet that dishes the dirt on the Ton, penned by one of its residents Penelope Featherington. Tthink: XOXO, Gossip Girl, but 1800s-style. In a bid to keep the writer’s identity a secret, Penelope teams up with the local Modiste owner Genevive Delacroix – who also leads a double life which we won’t get into – to print the publication without being noticed. In return, ‘Lady Whistledown’ writes about the establishment and its fine dresses. Especially beneficial as a new rival store opens just down the street.

But what has this got to do with PR? Am I just looking for an excuse to profess my love for period drama? Maybe. Let’s see.

Third-party endorsements are where it’s at

I think the most poignant lesson learned amongst these episodes, is from the upturn in business at the Modiste after Lady Whistledown’s recommendations. It’s fine to say how great you are, but when other people say it (especially those who are particularly revered), well that’s the sweet spot. This is why PR and advertising are not the same thing, you can pay most places to say what you want to say. PR, on the other hand, is about organically getting publications to say the right thing about your brand because you have crafted the right story. I know that doesn’t exactly fit into the Bridgerton theme, as Penelope was effectively bribed to include Madame Delacroix’s business within her pamphlets, but still, the premise is the same! This is not to suggest that you should be bribing journalists with deals to get good coverage, the right story will do the trick on its own.

People trust popular sources

A conversation I have often is the value of PR coverage in publications that matter to the brand. It’s something that I’ve been an advocate of for years and is a topic that, thankfully, is now more prominent in the digital industry too. Relevancy is everything. When thinking about where you want your stories to appear – remember to consider what’s popular amongst your readers, and what outlets they trust. If you’re a big company with a vast target demographic, then national newspapers are great as they have stunning readership figures and an often impressionable audience. If you’re working on an event or with a regionally-focused business on the other hand, then don’t dismiss the value of local media coverage! To give you an example, we recently run an ‘Easter Egg Drive‘ with one of our clients, culminating in over 450 donations of eggs from the local community. I got to meet some of the donors and I asked them where they heard about the campaign – they all said ‘In Your Area‘! Trust is incredibly important when it comes to PR campaigns, so go where your audience feels that. In the Ton’s case, it’s Lady Whistledown, hence why the Modiste business boomed after its mentions!

Don’t dismiss the power of word of mouth

Something that any good marketeer won’t deny, is that WOM (Word Of Mouth) Marketing is by far the most effective channel – the only problem is, that’s not something so easily controlled. However, we can certainly help it along the way with PR. In Bridgerton, the Modiste is mentioned within the Lady Whistledown pamphlets in clever ways, for example, subtly mentioning that the ‘Diamond’ of the season’s wedding dress was being made by the business. This brings me back to build upon my first point, it’s not just who says it, it’s what they say too. This is another string to the relevancy bow to consider; your PR campaigns should always work to bolster your brands’ message, whether that’s quality, care for the community, or something else.

The perfect message is one that’s conveyed by another source that people trust, but also one that reinforces the confidence in your own brand. And that’s why just one line in the (albeit very fictional) esteemed Lady Whistledown letter about the Modiste being ‘the’ place to be, was enough to send business booming. That may be an example born from fiction, but there are many cases of this in real life too.

I hope you enjoyed something a little different on the blog today. As always, I love chatting with you on Twitter, so if you have anything else to add let me know!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s