3 PR lessons from ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’

The recent addition to the science-fiction series follows Rebel Alliance fighters as they look to thwart Imperial forces. Here’s what communicators can glean from the battle.

Editor’s note: This article might contain minor film spoilers.

There’s something about fighting the forces of the Dark Side that can excite even the least-nerdy film viewer.

Roughly a year after “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” debuted in theaters—setting a record for the biggest-ever worldwide film opening (worth $529 million)—LucasFilm is back with “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”

In between shots from Stormtroopers’ blasters and space ships jumping to light speed, here are three lessons that PR pros can take from the latest project:

1. Technology can bring you only so far.

“Star Wars” fans have fallen in love with droids such as R2-D2, C-3P0 and BB-8. Not only have the machines been indispensible to the Rebel Alliance, but they have also supplied movie lovers with welcome humor and snappy one-liners.

In “Rogue One,” a re-programed Imperial droid called K-2SO is a valued wingman to the film’s rebel fighters. However, in battle, they’re reminded that in the hands of Stormtroopers, the droid can become an enemy instead of a friend.

In a similar manner, tools that measure social media analytics, gather media impressions and report a campaign’s ROI are only as good as the PR pros who run them.

Know your technology—but also understand the foundation on which that technology was built. Communicators make themselves invaluable when they can interpret online sentiment and explain to executives why certain metrics matter.

2. Armies are built more easily with passionate fighters.

The “Rogue One” heroine, Jyn Erso, reminds the Rebel Alliance: “We have hope. Rebellions are built on hope.”

It’s a pivotal moment for many, and the sentiment is echoed in other “Star Wars” films. The passion and commitment that spur rebel fighters to fight a future in which “Imperial flags reign across the galaxy” are essential when one must fly X-Wings into the Imperial Fleet or go head to head with a leader of The Dark Side.

PR pros would do well to remember that passion can ignite people to act. As “influencer marketing” becomes an increasingly popular strategy, many communicators enlist social media users or celebrities with huge online followings, ignoring what they care—and often speak—about.

Glossing over that research could mean wasting money on an ineffective campaign. Put less weight on follower numbers, and look instead to the content that influential social media users produce—as well as their self-interests and how they engage with their communities.

Find consumers who are passionate about your brand, product or service, and you’ll more easily build a brand advocate army willing to fight for you against the bombardment of online criticism and ads vying for consumers’ attention.

3. Don’t lose sight of your goal(s).

Rebel fighters—along with fans of the films—are accustomed to tragedy, but that doesn’t make Obi-Wan Kenobi’s death at the hands of Darth Vader or Han Solo’s demise courtesy of Kylo Ren any easier to handle.

However, members of the Rebel Alliance know the risks of fighting the Dark Side—as well as what is at stake if they don’t succeed. In “Rogue One,” Erso joins other memorable fighters as she pushes through difficult experiences, not allowing distractions to stand in the way of her triumph.

Whether you’re trying to make your organization the best in the industry or aiming to take down the Death Star, don’t let incidents along the way distract you.

Failures can be but temporary roadblocks, if you can learn from them, adjust your strategy and move forward.

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Topics: PR

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