Our favorite serial killer is back in action as season five of Dexter aired this past Sunday on Showtime. Those of you who follow the Dexter series know that although he has a serious obsession with blood (in and outside the office), there’s a few things us PR pros can learn from his dedication to his “work:”
- Do your research thoroughly: Dexter thoroughly investigates every aspect of his target before deciding if they fit his “code” — looking up files, news clippings and even breaking into his prospect’s homes to find evidence. While I’m not suggesting going through your Rolodex (do people even use those now a days?) and breaking and entering into a Mashable editor’s apartment, I think it’s almost obvious to say that we need to be thorough and diligent in our research. Key word: almost. Too many PR pros blast pitches that are unsuited for the media outlet, not tailored to the reporter’s beat and sometimes (and once is too often in my opinion) forget to replace the “Dear XXXXX” with the writer’s name. It comes down to investing the time and having the patience to properly assess the target and the situation before going in for the kill.
- Stick to the code: Just like Dexter, PR pros too, have a code. The codes we abide by come in all sorts of shapes and colors: conflicts of interest, ethical conduct, transparency…even tweeting about your clients without exposing your connection to them can land you strapped to the chopping table.
- Plan your work: Before anyone gets hurt, Dexter plans every minute of the scenario when hunting his prey — right down to making sure he does laundry that night so his skin-tight, army green “kill” shirt is clean for his morbid excursion. In other words, he doesn’t just wing it. In PR, we call this “strategy.” You need to have a step-by-step plan of what you need to do to get the results you want. However, life (and people) can sometimes be unpredictable. It is knowing how to think on your feet, adjust your plan and hide the bodies, erm, adapt, that will help you finish the job.
- Tools of the trade: Although the sharpest tool we have on the table is our wit, we have a variety of devices that are instrumental to our success: press releases and social media press releases; media kits; social media platforms such as a Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and LinkedIn groups; public stunts and flash mobs; product samples or service trials; viral videos; product placements; celebrity endorsements and more. And just like Dexter, we use different tools for different jobs. Except without too much bloodshed.
- Go in for the kill: It’s game time. Whether you’re presenting a killer new business deck for today’s 3:00 pm, pitching The New York Times or trying to persuade your client that creating a new app would be a waste of (both yours and their) time and money, you need to be focused and confident so you don’t hastily screw up in the process. You’ve prepared for this moment — you’ve done your research, made a plan, and chosen your tools — savor the kill!