3 Distinguished Public Relations Lessons from Downton Abbey
Written by All Points Public Relations Senior Account Lead Katharine Nichols
Downton Abbey, the clever and colorful British PBS series, has delighted viewers around the world for five seasons with its wit, drama and unmistakably dry one-liners. As an avid follower by night and strategic business communicator by day, I dare to admit that Downton has brought me endless joy, in addition to several significant business and communications lessons.
First, Downton Abbey has highlighted the importance of trying new business practices and embracing change to create an enduring legacy. In season three, the Earl of Grantham (Robert Crawley) learned an investment he made in the Canadian Railway had become worthless and he had lost the family fortune. Matthew Crawley, Robert’s new son-in-law and future heir, fortunately saves him and they become co-owners of the estate. A lawyer by trade, Matthew brings many innovative ideas to Downton Abbey, many of which Robert is averse to. However, in order to preserve family tradition and the great house, Robert eventually gives in and Downton Abbey can continue with its legacy.
One thing we can always count on in life and in business is that change is constant. How we react to change and proactively take a part in guiding change is what sets us apart and makes people successful. Our role as public relations practitioners is to effectively communicate changes with key stakeholders including the media through our existing relationships and to consumers through strategic social media campaigns and content marketing practices.
Downton, specifically Lady Mary, has shown the importance of rolling up your sleeves and getting to work. In season four, the widowed Lady Mary has become quite involved with the running of the estate and makes it her mission to understand the importance of respecting landowners and tradition while embracing new business practices. As such, she is involved with the purchase of a group of pigs that will reside on the property. One night following dinner, she goes with Charles Blake, a government administrator, to check on their arrival. To their surprise, they find the pigs in a state of distress. In full evening dress, she literally hauls water to their trough for hours in an all-hands-on-deck action to save the animals’ lives.
We will find in our careers that success is all about rolling up your sleeves. The All Points team works 24/7 to achieve our clients’ goals and make their business our business. From detailed media training sessions to striking public relations roundups and regular campaign brainstorming sessions, we take pride in representing our clients and ensuring their experience with us is enjoyable and advantageous.
Lastly, Downton has pointed out the art of professional chitchat. Members of the Grantham House never jump right down to business without a cup of tea and light discussion first. Although everything moves at the speed of light and deadlines constantly loom in business, take time to ask your clients about their day and try to get to know them person-to-person.
When starting with a new account or meeting a new point person on an existing account, the team at All Points Public Relations likes to get to know our contacts personally. If possible, it’s usually best to meet them face-to-face for a breakfast or lunch meeting. Use that time to find out what they like to talk about, whether it’s about their children, pets, home or neighborhood. Getting to know our clients on a personal level makes them feel more appreciated.
In accordance with the structure of most episodes, Downton fans know that the Dowager Countess of Grantham usually has a word or two to say on each matter. In the beginning of season three, she declares, “You’ll find there’s never a dull moment in this house.” Her witty and wise words not only apply to the Abbey, but also to our attitude at All Points Public Relations. There is constant activity at our office whether we’re communicating change on our clients’ behalf, creating innovative campaigns, improving existing systems or getting to know our clients personally.