3 PR lessons from ‘La La Land’

The love story about a jazz musician and an actress swept the Golden Globes, beguiling viewers with its music, dancing and characters’ chemistry. Here’s what communicators can take from it.

Editor’s note: This article contains film spoilers.

Film viewers and critics are in love with “La La Land.”

Justin Chang, contact reporter for The Los Angeles Times wrote:

“La La Land” is both a ravishing throwback to Old Hollywood and a moderately jaded fairy-tale riff on contemporary Hollywood, a story about two aspiring entertainers falling in love against the jazz clubs and studio backlots of a charmingly retro Los Angeles. This all-sunshine-all-the-time milieu is nothing if not inviting—more inviting, surely, than the mean Miami streets of “Moonlight” or the frosty New England town that gives “Manchester by the Sea” its title. But it also raises the question of whether, in that small arena where art and awards shows occasionally intersect, the most palatable and self-promotional choice is necessarily the most deserving.

On Sunday, the film—featuring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling—swept the Golden Globe Awards, winning the seven awards for which it was nominated (including best actress, best actor, best director, best score and best screenplay).

The sweep broke records: “La La Land’s” seven wins beat out “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Midnight Express,” which had shared the record (six) for most Golden Globes.

The buzz will probably continue as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gears up for the Oscars presentation show next month. Here’s what PR pros can glean from the film:

1. Connect with your audience emotionally.

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“La La Land” captivates viewers from its opening number to the last keystrokes of Gosling’s heartbreaking rendition of “City of Stars.” Jimmy Fallon gave a nod to the popularity of the film with a star-filled parody of “Another Day in the Sun”:

PR pros don’t have to pen a winning song or film to enchant their audiences, however.

Instead, keep them (and their interests) in mind when creating content, choosing campaign messages and interacting with consumers online.

Some of the best PR and marketing campaigns connect with viewers in a very emotional way (a la Dove’s “Real Beauty” and Always’ #LikeAGirl campaigns).

2. Rejection doesn’t always equal failure.

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Mia—played by Stone—experiences a series of crushing disappointments as she auditions for TV shows and movies, only to have the casting directors ignore her to take phone calls, answer mundane questions and stare into space. Eventually, she’s ready to throw in the towel, until Sebastian—played by Gosling—persuades her not to give up on her dreams.

The PR industry is competitive, but the struggle for communicators doesn’t stop with securing a position. Once you land a gig, you’ll have to fight to prove the ROI of your efforts, gain a bigger slice of the budget and make your client’s messages heard above the din of marketers and PR pros across social media channels.

Even outstanding PR pros can make bad calls or craft campaigns that fail to reach audiences and boost organizations’ bottom lines. Don’t let missteps or disappointments slow your progress. Instead, evaluate what went wrong, fix it for the future, and keep your eyes on your goals.

3. Success often requires sacrifice.

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Mia and Sebastian have the kind of chemistry ideal for swoon-worthy love stories, but their dreams of becoming a big film star and reviving the jazz era by opening a successful club eventually proves that, for them, something had to go.

In a similar manner, PR pros who want to land coveted client accounts and win awards for their campaigns often have to make sacrifices-which might translate into sleepless nights working under deadline or missing out on family dinners.

Remember that determining success is different for everyone, and only you can decide which sacrifices are appropriate for the career gains you can attain. Though you can’t get something for nothing, having a thriving PR career doesn’t mean you can’t have a life and family.

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Topics: PR

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