My 13-year-old daughter has recently discovered Queen. She’s not the first teenager to discover the amazing, genre-bending music that the iconic British rock band and their legendary frontman Freddie Mercury created, nor will she be the last.
During her musical discovery and, of course, through the new Queen biopic, I was not only reminded of all my favorite Queen songs, but also I’ve had a chance to learn more about how the band pushed the boundaries and changed the game when it came to the rock music genre. And as actor Rami Malek recently said at the 2019 SAG Awards, Queen and Freddie Mercury did it by “stepping up and living your best life, being exactly who you want to be and accomplishing everything you so desire.”
For public relations agencies, especially those that are on a growth trajectory, there is much to be learned and applied to the way agency teams work, how they can be successful and, ultimately, how agency businesses are run — all by paying attention to Queen’s mantra and enduring characteristics. Let’s take a closer look:
Diversify Your Team
In the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, Rami Malek (as Freddie Mercury) said this when asked to describe what Queen is, “We’re four misfits who don’t belong together; we’re playing for the other misfits.” While this quote is certainly a bit melodramatic when trying to describe diversity in a PR team, the theme rings true. Queen was a band made up of four very different personalities and backgrounds, all who brought their “special sauce” to the table when creating music.
For PR teams, having diverse teams is where the magic can happen. Bringing employees together from all walks of life, different ages and varied geographies can ultimately help the agency tell more exciting stories and create fresh, out-of-the-box ideas for clients.
Encourage Healthy Discussions
Devout Queen fans know that the band was notorious for getting into very intense arguments when making records. Even Mercury himself famously said in a 1974 article in Melody Maker magazine: “You’ll have to spend a couple of days with us. We’re at each other’s throats. But if we didn’t disagree, we’d just be yes-men, and we do get the cream in the end.”
PR teams are no different — minus being at each other’s throats! Different opinions and healthy discussions from all players should be an important part of creating campaigns, pitches or content pieces for clients. Voicing opinions should not just be left to executive or senior team members either, as junior staff and interns have wonderful ideas, too. Encourage employees at all levels to throw their ideas into the hat. You never know where the best idea or collections of ideas will come from to create that “hit idea.”
Accomplish Success Your Own Way
Many people consider the song “Bohemian Rhapsody” one of the greatest rock songs ever written and recorded. It wasn’t originally welcomed with open arms, but Queen knew they had something special and they were not going to back down. The song turned out to be a success, of course. The takeaway? They did it all on their own terms and in a style that was like no other. And so should PR agencies.
While many have their own operating procedures and new business processes, creating a positive and supportive company culture in a PR agency is what can truly dictate long-term success. Offering perks like flexible work-from-home schedules, manageable monthly billable allocations, professional development opportunities and team outings should be table stakes for PR agencies today to avoid employee burnout and low morale. What is the one thing that sets you apart from the competition? What is your “Bohemian Rhapsody?”
Be Authentic, Always
Queen was the very definition of authentic. All four band members were true to themselves, and it showed in their music and performances. In the PR world, one’s reputation and authenticity are everything. We live in a time where ethics are constantly called into question. But as PR practitioners and communicators, we must rise above and always be transparent in everything we do.
In the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, we learn about Freddie Mercury’s upbringing in the Zoroastrian faith and its motto of “Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds.” The application of this motto to PR ethics and authenticity almost needs no further explanation.
Being a PR practitioner in the agency world does not come without its pressures and stresses, but it can also be a very rewarding experience if you look inside and understand what makes you and your company different. Don’t be afraid to challenge the norms, shake things up or listen to opinions, but be true to who you are. That is what makes an agency special — be the PR champion you always thought you could be.