What Don Draper can teach the PR industry

Last night was the long-awaited season premiere of "Mad Men," AMC's critically acclaimed series about a 1960s advertising firm.

Last night was the long-awaited season premiere of "Mad Men," AMC's critically acclaimed series about a 1960s advertising firm.

The episode definitely didn't disappoint, and with the title "Public Relations" you knew it was going to be interesting, especially for those of us eager to see how the show would treat the "red-headed stepchild" of advertising.

From the first frame, with Don Draper being interviewed by an Ad Age reporter who asked "Who is Don Draper?" I was hooked. Now creative director and partner of new firm Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, Don was less than forthcoming with the reporter, telling him, "As I said before, I'm from the Midwest. We were taught it's not polite to talk about ourselves.''

The resulting piece in Ad Age was not exactly enlightening and Don was quickly scolded by Bert Cooper, who told him he's the face of the agency and, as such, needs to think about how his public profile affects the firm and its clients. Certainly some CEOs and senior executives in the PR industry understand that, but there are still those who maintain they are there to get their clients in the press, not get themselves publicity.

As I've said before, speaking to media about the work that you're doing, whether it's PRWeek or another outlet, is not self-serving; it's just good business. This is something Don recognized by the end of last night's episode, as he agreed to a meeting with a Wall Street Journal reporter and boldly divulged the back story to the agency's foundation. It's a lesson some PR executives still need to learn.

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