I have been on a shameless Scandal watching binge over the past few weeks, but am happy to report that my time has not all gone to waste. Olivia Pope and her work as a media consultant and crisis manager in Washington, D.C. provides some valuable insight and lessons for a public relations professional. My top five takeaways:

  1. Do your research: Never go into a meeting, take a phone call, or approach the media without having looked at all sides to the story. Always ask yourself the hard questions and try to anticipate as much as possible. When it comes to media, it is best to know more than they do so you aren’t taken by surprise.
  2. Wear a white hat: Pope and Associates will only take on cases that are for the good of the people involved. Here at SM&, we work with clients that have a mission and want to make positive change. Use the power of the media for honorable and admirable reasons.
  3. Always tell the truth: It is never a good idea to lie or make up facts in this industry. Remember that it's okay to say you don't know and will get back to the media or a client when you have the facts. Never lie to a reporter and never have your client lie during an interview. 
  4. Trust your gut: You may have prepared perfectly but sometimes it comes down to trusting what you feel is the right or wrong move. Is a reporter asking you a question that seems strange or off? It probably is. Take a step back and re-evaluate.
  5. It’s handled”: Close all loops and make sure you follow through on client projects and media requests. You will get far by not letting anything slip through the cracks and it will go a long way towards building relationships with your team, your clients and the media. 

And, once your day is done, have a glass of wine and relax.