I was watching White Chicks over the Christmas holidays, hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year’s by the way, and I decided to make this cool little list! Here are 15 things I learned about PR after watching White Chicks. Enjoy!
- Always use facts to back up your arguments
Marcus argues with his girlfriend, Gina, about where he has been since he left work and is able to diffuse her crazy accusations by referring to facts. Just like in public relations, when you’re in a crisis situation always use facts to back up your position so that the other side cannot misconstrue your words and get the upper hand. If you rely solely on emotions, or opinions your argument won’t be as strong, or convincing, so always use facts!
2. If you can’t walk the walk, then don’t talk the talk.
Marcus tries to prove a point to his girlfriend, Gina, by insisting that he can, and will listen to her as she tells him about her day. However, he is unable to do so and repeatedly falls asleep as she is talking. The moral of the story here is don’t claim to be able to do something if you can’t actually do it. The same goes for public relations. If you claim to be able to do something and you can’t actually do it, chances are you will end up making the situation worse.
3. Research, research, research!
The only way the Copeland brothers were able to effectively impersonate the Wilson sisters was because they had done their due diligence and researched the Wilson sisters lives. Research, in public relation, is the beginning of every PR plan. It lets us know where we are, and where we ought to be headed which results in well thought out and effective plans.
4. Anticipate potential problems
White Chicks is premised on the fact that the police force thinks the kidnappers are going to strike the Wilson sisters next. By impersonating the sisters, the Copeland brothers are able to circumvent this problem because doing so ensures the real Wilson sisters are safe. It will also reveal the kidnappers identities to them. In public relations anticipating potential problems is important, especially when launching new products, ideas or promotions.
For example earlier this year in Canada, VIA rail announced an unlimited summer travel pass for those between the ages of 12 and 25. However, VIA did not anticipate the popularity of this offer and hence were not able to accommodate the number of people interested in the pass. Their website also was not equipped to handle such a high traffic density and crashed. This flub left a sour taste in a lot of Canadians mouths, who were not able to take advantage of the deal, and most likely this problem could have been avoided if VIA had better anticipated problems.
5. Sometimes, all you have to do is ask!
In the movie, the Copeland brothers wanted to be given a case they weren’t assigned. The brothers did have a history of screwing up which is probably why they weren’t assigned to the case in the first place, but that’s neither here nor there! By vocalizing what they wanted to the chief and being direct about it, they were able to get what they wanted, which was their being put on the case.
In public relations sometimes it can be hard to network or gain important connections. But once you have built those bridges don’t be scared to ask for what you need or want. Sometimes all you have to do is ask and it will be given!
6. What you can’t account for in advance, roll with.
Marcus Copeland, dressed as Tiffany Wilson, ends up attracting the attention of superstar athlete Latrell Spencer. Latrell is so taken with her that he pays $50,000 to take her out for dinner. During the date Marcus/Tiffany tries to be as unattractive as possible by farting, chewing her toe nails, talking with food in his/her mouth and showing off his/her treasure trail. He/She clearly anticipated some potential problems and tried to thwart them. However, Latrell did not respond as Marcus/Tiffany thought he wound and ended up being even more infatuated!
In public relations sometimes you have to be able to go with the flow. You can’t anticipate everything that is going to happen, nor can you plan for every possible outcome but always try to! If things do seem to happen, even after you’ve prepared for what you thought was everything, just look for the silver lining and roll with it.
7. Get creative with it!
Marcus and Kevin were able to hone their creative side when the Wilson Sisters, whom they were charged with watching, refused to attend the Hamptons for the weekend as planned. So instead the Copeland brothers got creative with it and impersonated the girls and went to the Hamptons instead! Someone lacking creativity may have given up right there and then, but not the Copeland brothers. Oh, no! They stuck their heads together and devised an ingenious plan.
To succeed in the world of public relations, you’ve got to make your clients stand out and to do that you’ve got to get creative. This will ensure that you will stand out in a pool of applicants vying for a job position, or stand out as a company bidding for a client’s business.
8. Always remember who you’re representing
Kevin momentarily forgot, as he approached Denise, that he was dressed as Brittany, a spoiled rich girl with a valley accent, and in that moment he could have blown his cover. He approached Denise as though he were a man trying to hit on her, rather than as a female trying to make a new friend.
Just like in public relations, even if an organizations values do not match your own values you need to remember who you’re representing and act accordingly. This means that if you were representing PETA, you wouldn’t go out in public wearing a mink jacket. If you find that your values are constantly in conflict with those of your employer, than it may be time to find a new job!
9. Laugh your way through the pain
Tiffany and Brittany Wilson enter the hotel like a hot mess. The Copeland brothers, as the girls, are not used to their feminine bodies and hence aren’t great at walking in heels, nor are they spatially aware of their new lady lumps which causes a lot of stuff to get knocked over. Even in public relations, laughter is a great cure for awkward situations, especially if you’re the butt of the joke.
Don’t forget to laugh every once and awhile and not take life so seriously. I mean, you wouldn’t want to end up as a meme because you were the only one who couldn’t lightening up, right?
10. Never repeat unsavoury language!
Agent Jake Harper is impersonating a concierge, and is being yelled at by the Copeland brothers whom are impersonating the Wilson sisters. Brittany states that she is going to have a ‘bitch fit’, and Jake repeats what she has said simply as ‘B.F.’. By refraining from using the derogatory term, Kevin is able to avoid causing a bigger scene.
This logic is so important in public relations because in this day and age everyone loves listening to sound bites. So you never want to be caught saying something derogatory, even if you’re only repeating something someone else said because it will end up taken out of context on the internet. Whenever possible refer to controversial terms as ‘phrasing I’d rather not use’ or something to that effect.
11. If you’re going to dish it, make sure it’s served hot.
If you’ve ever read through @Wendy’s Twitter page, you’ll see a sassy response for just about everything and the same sort of responses dished out by the Copeland brothers/Wilson sisters in White Chicks. As the guests arrive to an annual party held by the Vandergeld’s the Wilson sister and the Vandergeld sisters get into a verbal fight. The Wilson sisters are being dissed by the Vandergeld sisters. The Vandergeld’s are unable to dish out enough dirt to win the encounter, while the Wilson sister dish out enough sass to satisfy everyone there.
The same sort of thing goes for public relations. If you’re going to take on a sassy persona, be sure that you know what you’re doing, because if you’re going to dish it make sure it’s dished hot and not two days after the fact. If not, you’ll just end up looking ill-equipped, and possibly losing your credibility as a professional sass-er.
12. Don’t take no for an answer!
Tori, Brittany’s publicist, called Denise, an esteemed journalist, non-stop so that she would know Brittany’s name and interview her when the time was right. Tori’s plan ultimately worked because when Denise and Brittany actually do meet, Denise states that she already knows who Brittany is because of the numerous voicemails Tori has left! In public relations, if you need your client to be on something, or to be seen somewhere you’ve got to do everything you can to make it happen. Even if that means, calling every day for a week straight. This kind of hounding, while irritating at times, will show people that you are driven, goal oriented and dedicated to succeeding at your job!
13. Get the whole story before you respond
Gina, Marcus’s wife, overhears what she thinks is Marcus cheating on her with another woman. In reality, what she is hearing is Marcus, dressed as Tiffany, being assisted into a dress by a saleslady. By responding, without getting the whole story, Gina comes off looking silly and unprepared.
In public relations it is very important to respond quickly, especially in crisis situations. But, it’s also very important to respond appropriately and often this cannot be done without first getting all of the facts. So, a good way to balance promptness and appropriateness is to respond first with something vague that can set the tone you’re after. Then once you have more detail about the situation at hand, you can craft a more elaborate response.
14. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
While in the changing room, Brittany realizes that her friend, Lisa, has body dysmorphia. So it does not matter what clothing item she brings back to her, Lisa won’t like her body in it. Once Brittany realizes this, she seeks the help of someone else, someone more qualified to assist her friend.
We also get a visual of Brittany struggling to dress in the changing room so her friend, Karen has to come in and literally do up her pants. Again, Brittany realized that she was unable to do something herself and had to ask a friend for help.
Public relations is a very broad field, so you can’t be expected to be an expert in everything. When you don’t know something, always feel like you can ask for help or clarification. The worst thing you could do is fake it, and then fudge an entire project!
15. Don’t undersell yourself or your abilities.
At a charity ball hosted her father, Heather Vandergeld is auctioning herself off. The numbers start to flat line at $300, however she waits until the price is right at $20,000. In this situation, Heather knew her worth.
Just like in White Chicks, in public relation you, as a newcomer, have to know yours. Be careful that you don’t undervalue your skills because people will take advantage of you. Be sure to always market yourself so that you can get the compensation you deserve!
There you have it! That’s 15 things that I’ve learned about public relations by watching White Chicks. Thanks for reading! ❤