Because House of Cards debuts next week, and because I was up way too late watching my DVR’d Oscars last night, I would like to take this moment to share this incredible collection of PR best practices from Frank Underwood and the rest of the House of Cards crew compiled by Kina Leclair at Ragan’s PR Daily.
Please read these all aloud in your best President Underwood impersonation. I know I did.
1. “These days, when you’re talking to one person, you’re talking to a thousand.”
– Zoe Barnes in season one, episode four
In the digital age, everything should be considered on the record. Camera phones, social media mistakes and hackings are all too real, and have been the catalysts for many scandals that have surfaced in the past few years.
Be courteous to everyone. Don’t gossip. Think before you speak. Apologize if you make a mistake.
2. “Pay attention to the fine print.”
– Frank Underwood in season two, episode three
The devil is in the details. Read, re-read and read between the lines when you prep for media interviews, announcements or agreements. There is no such thing as a standard interview or a standard contract.
3. “I don’t mind that you improvise. I just wish you’d done it better.”
– Claire Underwood in season one, episode six
Fans with a passion for PR and “House of Cards” vividly remember Frank Underwood’s nationally televised, cringe-worthy interview about his education bill. It was scattered, unprepared, and needlessly pompous. Frank even started naming vowels from the alphabet to prove a point: “U think I O U A apology?” He blurts out the word “defecation.” The interview was a D for disaster and, let’s admit, an E for entertaining.
If you’re going to improvise, always have one fallback, key message. Find a way to go back to it, no matter how much you ramble on.
4. “I never make such big decisions so long after sunset and so far from dawn.”
– Frank Underwood in season one, episode one
Picture this: It’s late and you’re drafting a speech, a strategy or key messages for an interview. Before you hit the “send” button, make sure you get some shuteye and that proofread what you wrote with a clear head and a fresh cup of coffee.
5. “If you don’t like the way the table is set, then turn the table over.”
– Frank Underwood in season two, Episode two
If you don’t like the way something is going, change it.
The best thing to do when you don’t like the way a strategy or announcement is headed is to call for a brainstorm with trusted colleagues. Consider ideas you haven’t, even those that seem outrageous. Remove yourself from your current path and go back to the drawing board. It will force you to see what is working and what needs to go.
6. “If we never did anything we shouldn’t do, we would never feel good about the things that we should.”
– Frank Underwood in season two, episode four
As PR pros, we will make mistakes. We’re required to think on our feet so often and make quick decisions that sometimes our intuition and experience will fail us. When you make a mistake, it stays with you. You reflect on them, you evaluate how they could have been different, and you learn from them. But when you make a decision that was right on the money, you feel damn good about it.