There is not a place more important in the world of musical theater than Broadway in New York City. The musicals shown there teach audiences lessons about love, life, and surprisingly, public relations. While it might not be the direct message given through song and dance, PR practitioners can learn valuable lessons from famous Broadway musicals:
1. Always pursue your passions, no matter who stands in your way, via “The Phantom of the Opera.”
“Phantom” tells the story of Christine, an opera singer who became the obsession of the infamous Phantom of the Opera. Whether you are on the side of Christine or the Phantom, both were ambitious individuals who went after their career or the person they loved. Like Christine, PR professionals have to be dedicated to their careers. Like the Phantom, they need to show love to their passions and to the important people in their lives. Future public relations leaders need to follow in their footsteps and do their work with the fiery passion of Christine, as well as with the love of the Phantom.
2. Make the best out of a bad situation and reimagine yourself, via “Wicked.”
“Wicked” tells the story of Elphaba Thropp, the notorious Wicked Witch of the West, and how she was given that alias. When Elphaba discovered that the Wizard was a fraud, she threatened to expose him. As a result, the Wizard banished her and created propaganda against her. Elphaba, however, turned this bad situation into an opportunity to fix the wrongs done to her; a lesson that many public relations practitioners face in the real world. Instead of cowering in fear of persecution, Elphaba owned the idea of being a bad guy and rebranded herself as the iconic Witch of the West. The world of PR isn’t perfect. Situations occur that require reputation management and rebranding. When bad situations occur, PR practitioners, need to help their clients and companies own who they are and take their new image with confidence.
3. Don’t be afraid to be unique, via “Hamilton: An American Musical”
“Hamilton” tells the historically based story of Alexander Hamilton and how he met his unfortunate demise at the hands of rival Aaron Burr. While this story has been told in numerous biographies, “Hamilton” takes a different twist on Hamilton’s life through rap and hip hop music. Many critics thought it would flop, but it has now become Broadway’s most popular ticket. Like this smash hit, PR practitioners need to be unique in order to get their messages to stand out amongst the noise. PR practitioners need to find their own “Hamiltons” in their professions that will kick start their career.
4. Sometimes you have to break the traditional mold, via “The Addams Family.”
Picking up where the television series ended, Wednesday Addams is now a teenager and has fallen in love with a normal boy, Lucas. Her mother becomes angry because her daughter is breaking the family customs. In order to be happy, Wednesday has to go against her mother’s wishes to be with Lucas. Like Wednesday, sometimes PR students need to go against the norm in order to generate creative content that will get the job done. Sticking to the status quo won’t always help you. Traditions are made to be broken, and the world of public relations is no exception.
5. Don’t get too caught up in your work, via “Les Miserables.”
This staple of musical theater tells the story of Jean Valjean, a former thief who turns his life around. Getting caught up in his authoritative role as a factory owner, he fires an employee, Fantine. Later, he finds Fantine prostituting herself, and she later dies from disease. Feeling guilty for his actions, Jean Valjean adopts Fantine’s daughter, Cosette, as his own. If he hadn’t taken his work too seriously, maybe he wouldn’t have fired Fantine. PR practitioners need to take heed from this lesson and not get too caught up in their work. While our work in marketing communications is important, it isn’t the only element of our lives. If we get too caught up in our work, we might miss out on time with our loved ones.
Michelle Frye is a junior public relations and advertising double major with minors in marketing and theatre. She is a general body member of WUPRSSA and is also part of Red Brick Communications. Her future goals are to become an advertiser or public relations practitioner for the major theme park industry.