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How “Scandal” relates to Public Relations



Scandal has been on Netflix for several years now, and I just started watching it two years ago. After seeing the first episode, I fell in love. I also was surprised by how much the show relates to public relations.


Olivia Pope, the main character, is the Communications Director for the White House. She decides to leave that behind and start her crisis management firm, Pope & Associates. It is safe to say that public relations in real life doesn't include murder and hiding bodies to protect your clients and the extreme measures Pope uses to defend her clients cross ethical boundaries. However, the stress of working in crisis communications is accurately portrayed.


In every episode, the four phases of crisis management are shown well: prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. It is essential to find ways to minimize a situation's damage to reputation before it turns into a crisis. Being prepared is the next step in any problem. Pope and her team will meet with her clients and get a hold of the case so a plan can start to develop. The client is informed of the plan and is given instructions as to what is needed from them.


In the response phase, the plan is set in motion. In most episodes, Pope and her team are great about strategizing and executing a good plan that will help protect her clients' image and reputation. Although Pope and her team have helped hide bodies, she also takes ethical approaches to certain situations.


Finally, in the recovery phase, the image and reputation of the clients are fixed. Pope is excellent about informing the public that her clients are still respectable community members despite their actions.


Scandal portrays public relations as an intense job; however, crisis management is also shown to be glamorous. The show uses some real-life examples with exaggeration and twists. Scandal has taught me that PR crisis management can be highly stressful and also rewarding: good credible response is an essential first task.


Kara Martin is a senior from Muncie, Ind., double majoring in criminal justice and public relations. Martin is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, a student-run public relations agency at Anderson University.