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Why PR is like a Reality Dating Show

Remember: telling an engaging story will inspire more minds than seedy conflict.   

Whether we’d like to admit it or not, it’s safe to say that reality dating shows have taken over American television screens. From ABC’s The Bachelor to MTV’s Are You The One?, it seems like a new premise is introduced daily, garnering millions of viewers and generating tons of gossip. Magazine covers are infiltrated with spoiler alerts and hasty rumors, while scandal uncovers an army of social media trolls. Coincidentally, the principles of competing for love are not all that different than the work of a public relations professional on behalf of businesses. How do these two correlate? Let me explain:

1. Only the best are selected


Story pitching is a main practice in PR—shaping an engaging announcement for the client and attracting attention. But for many journalists, pitches are a dime a dozen and only the best ones will be selected to progress. It’s important to differentiate yourself to engage journalists, or casting directors, to move forward in the process. It’s vital to keep subject matter and auditions succinct, funny, relatable and unique. At the end of the day, there is competition to get your story front and center, so paint your picture in an authentic light and tell your story truthfully.

2. editing shapes the narrative

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On every reality dating show reunion or tell-all special, the designated villain of the season defends their actions by explaining their words were taken out of context, while simultaneously condemning their nemesis as a liar. Yes, the villain insults other contestants, but they swear they said a lot of nice things too. One-on-one interviews with producers yield a lot of content, and something every participant on the show partakes in. Eventually, they all trash talk; it just depends what makes the cut. The final edit completely shapes viewers’ perceptions of each hopeful.

This principle is also reflected in PR. Reporters often pull quotes from larger interviews and take sound bites. Naturally, not every piece of an interview can make the final cut. It’s important to make sure statements won’t be damaging if taken out of context. Furthermore, misleading or completely inaccurate statements are transferred on to social media. Be sure to monitor your brand to step in when necessary.

3. you never know who's watching

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You can’t deny that reality dating shows have a vast audience, and some of those audience members would surprise you. Big or small, if you’re seen in the media, you have an audience and you never know who could be reading or watching. An interview may seem private when it’s being conducted, but it’s being shared to thousands or even millions of people. This can be an opportunity for viral content as we’ve seen with widespread memes, and a chance to make a positive impact on a large audience in one swoop. Either way, the more you’re in the media the more it shapes a reputation. What do you want that reputation to be? How do you want to come across? This is a decision most businesses need to identify early on and before any media outreach begins.

You can learn many PR lessons from reality dating shows because the contestants are real people on an amplified and edited platform— just like brand spokespeople participating in media interviews. This provides opportunity for valuable takeaways for your business, honing in on the need to differentiate, solidify your brand messaging and capitalize on your audience.

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Jen Caro

Posted By Jen Caro

Obsessed with entertainment news, Jen frequently visits industry sites and her favorite Instagram accounts for the latest happenings. She also reguarly surfs Pinterest for ambitious new recipes. Once her online routine is complete, you can find Jen sipping a hot cup of coffee, listening to new music or dancing away in a Zumba class.