Fresh off the Republican National Convention on Monday evening, if there’s one thing we’ve learned about this recent election is that it’s ripe for the pickin’ when it comes to PR lessons (we’re looking at you, Melania Trump). While most of you are tuning in for the policy-specifics, such as which presidential hopeful’s policies on minorities is better or who will win on the issue of gun control, us PR folk are analyzing and picking apart every move in the name of public relations (it also doesn’t hurt when you can tune in and watch this happening). So now that the Democratic and Republican candidates are selected, we wanted to share some of the big PR takeaways we’ve learned from the election thus far that PR pros can apply to their clients, whether they work in-house or at an agency. Ready to Feel the Bern and read about some of our favorites?

Broad City your appeal

For awhile it was a tight race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, especially due to the strong millennial support Bernie had (and some are still supporting him despite Hillary securing the Democratic ticket). Since this is the first year that millennial voters make up the same number of voters as Baby Boomers, Hillary knew she had to do something drastic to swing the vote her way. So she took a guest role on Comedy Central’s Broad City and slayed (YAS QUEEN!). Comedy Central’s audience is 60 percent males, 18-34 years-of-age, and Broad City also has a strong female following for obvious reasons so it was a perfect — and unexpected — platform for Hillary. In an episode of Scandal, Mellie Grant had to soften her image and laugh at herself to become more appealing to America so Olivia Pope & Associates sent her to Jimmy Kimmel to read mean tweets about herself – and it worked! In PR, sometimes you have to push a spokesperson outside their comfort zones or encourage them to do something out-of-the-box to get in front of new audiences and broaden their appeal.

Plagiarism is real

I bet you caught the foreshadowing in the first sentence of this blog post, didn’t ya? We couldn’t really talk about PR lessons without talking about Melania Trump. She learned a HUGE lesson during Monday’s Republican National Convention: never plagiarize someone else’s work. Someone is always bound to find out, and as we’ve seen, the Internet is a very non-forgiving place. Have multiple people read your spokesperson’s work (whether it’s a speech, byline, whatever) to catch any egregious errors, especially if it looks suspiciously like someone else’s. If you are going to quote someone else, make sure to cite your sources people.

A lesson (or many) in media training

The Donald has said quite a few horrible things since the campaign started, speaking out against his fellow candidates, immigrants and even the Super Bowl! And Twitter has been his weapon of choice. PR friends take notes. Train your spokespeople. Help them learn how to deal with criticism to react more positively; build messaging to focus on the good; monitor how they are using Twitter; and above all, provide feedback whenever you can. We just had a training on giving feedback at ICLabs and for me, one of the most important takeaways was to help clients understand that what they say/do can affect their overall business goals and their bottom line. Tell them that and then watch the lightbulb go off.

Prepare for the worst

In PR, expect the best, plan for the worst. In other words, have a crisis communications plan in place. At the very least, brainstorm some scenarios and develop steps to take to help mitigate any harm if one of those scenarios should happen. While no one could have predicted that Hillary would use her personal email from her home server to discuss extremely sensitive State issues, it doesn’t mean that her team shouldn’t have considered developing some sort of crisis messaging preemptively. Just because you’re planning ahead doesn’t mean you’re expecting something bad to happen (oh ye of little faith), it just means you’re prepared and ready to take on any challenges that come your way.

Moving from celebrity status to serious contender

When Donald Trump announced he was running for president by way of a grand escalator entrance, many of us felt a lot of feels (and they weren’t good). ABC’s hit series Scandal even mocked it by making it a part of a recent storyline (sorry #notsorry, I’m obsessed), but he’s risen as the official candidate of the Republican Party. Love him or hate him, he’s managed to shift the public’s perception from the reality TV boardroom to the campaign trail. Sometimes in PR, you may have to do some work scrubbing an exec’s image, making them a trusted spokesperson in a new field or transitioning them from their former frat boy image to shining executive. It’s your job to develop messaging, build their executive platform to highlight their background/experience and set up meetings with the right reporters to tell the exec’s story in the best way. All of this contributes to shifting public perception for the better.

What other PR lessons have YOU learned from the presidential race?