5 PR pointers from ‘Mad Men’

The series ends its seven-season run May 17. The show’s creators said plenty about advertising and snuck in some PR advice, too.

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This article was originally published on PR Daily in May 2015. For seven seasons, the hit AMC show “Mad Men” gave the world a glimpse of Madison Avenue’s heyday.

Creative advertising has poured out of dapper Don Draper like whisky from his cache of Canadian Club. The series also included a few fundamental public relations tips that are still relevant today. Here are five key takeaways for PR pros, relevant long after its last episode.

1. “I don’t sell advertising. I sell products.”

This is one of Don’s best lines in a series full of quotable comments. At the end of season two, Sterling Cooper has been sold and Don’s chief rival wants to steer the agency toward media buying and away from creative work. Don’s parting line: “I don’t sell advertising. I sell products.”

In the PR world, Don would sell reputations, not public relations. Don’t get lost in the mechanics and remember the objective: communicating your company’s relevance and value.

2. “If you don’t like the conversation, change it.”

In season three, the developers of Madison Square Garden fret about public outrage at their plan to raze landmark Penn Station.

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