Editor's Note: The following article contains spoilers for the Downton Abbey series finale.
Amidst “Downton Abbey’s” reunions, unveilings and relationship remedies, a few marketing lessons emerged.
The final episode of PBS’ acclaimed series aired Sunday. Though the beloved show had its fair share of goodness, darkness and surprises, the endnote was optimistic, and most characters were given decent—if not joyful—endings.
Instead of bidding farewell to the Crawleys, continue their story by using these marketing and PR takeaways:
1. Adopt a moral compass.
The storylines that surrounded Lord and Lady Grantham weren’t always prim and proper. Despite this, the British aristocracy on which the show is based suggests that doing the right thing is often the best thing.
In marketing, leading by principle instead of what might get you ahead is a solid strategy to adopt. As clients often look to your past examples as proof of your character, it’s wise to handle stressful situations with poise.
Although a flamboyant strategy might help your brand to stand out, it might fail to earn respect from colleagues and prospective clients. The same applies to adopting a reputation for being a hard sell. Despite your ability to insistently market your organization, sometimes getting the client demands taking a more honorable, more subtle approach.
Even Lady Mary, whom The New York Times described as “a beautiful ice cube that melts every two or three years,” managed to regain a smidgen of decency in the “Downton Abbey” finale. She made amends with her sister, Lady Edith, and instead of hogging the spotlight at Edith’s wedding, Mary waited until after the ceremony to reveal her own big news.
2. Show signs of life through constant activity.
Throughout the six seasons of “Downton Abbey,” Maggie Smith’s character—Dowager Countess of Grantham—was unabashedly opinionated. Despite not always being directly involved, she seemed to have something to say about every issue that occurred on the estate.
Although you might not be included in all of your organization’s marketing initiatives, it’s important to stay engaged. Whether you’re communicating with clients, creating campaigns or improving your own best practices, momentum matters.
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The finale’s director, Michael Engler, said the show’s plot remained loyal to using the metaphor of a swan—above the water it flows, elegant and graceful, but below the surface the feet are paddling madly.
Marketers should do their best to paddle madly below the surface. No matter how day-to-day tasks vary, it’s important to keep working and stay active behind the scenes.
3. Being personable is important.
The conversations within the estate shed light on the importance of professional small talk. Downton Abbey and Grantham House residents seemed always to have time for a cup of tea or a friendly conversation before getting down to business.
Despite the updates in technology or various comings and goings of certain characters, the biggest changes to occur throughout the show were personal. It was because of these personal developments that in the end, Lord Grantham felt the estate was finally secure.
Although things move quickly in marketing, it’s important to take time to chat with your clients and work to know them more personally. If you’re onboarding a client or discussing an existing account with a new team member, establish common ground before diving into the specifics of your meeting.
Without Lady Edith’s showing her personal side to her potential mother-in-law, Mrs. Pelham probably wouldn’t have accepted her—and viewers wouldn’t have gotten the happy ending they so desperately wanted. In fiction and the real world, honesty and integrity will go far.
What connections can you draw between “Downton Abbey” and marketing?