If you’re lucky enough to have seen Hamilton, the Broadway megahit penned by Lin-Manuel Miranda, you’ve likely listened to the soundtrack every day since you saw it, daydreamed about the Hamilton Exhibition opening next year in Chicago and stalked Miranda’s Twitter feed incessantly.
Or maybe that’s just me. Through a combination of good fortune and slight obsession, I’ve actually seen Hamilton three times this year.
But beyond the romance of the theater and the beguiling Hamilton score, I found striking connections between Alexander Hamilton’s practice of public relations and the work we do at Greentarget. Here are a few lessons we can take out of Hamilton’s PR handbook:
1. Thought leadership has always been, and always will be, essential.
Hamilton knew his voice carried weight. The Federalist Papers – a collection of essays written by Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison promoting the ratification of the U.S. Constitution – was the product of a content strategy created to influence the course of history. At Greentarget, we believe true thought leaders have an obligation to participate skillfully in the conversations that matter to their clients, especially as they seek to burnish their reputations, attract talent or achieve a higher purpose. Hamilton was largely driven by his pursuit of a higher purpose – but he was also ambitious, and his thought leadership elevated his personal brand, fueling his ascent to an essential role in the first presidential administration.
2. The importance of directing a smarter conversation.
While Aaron Burr repeatedly advised him to “talk less, smile more,” Hamilton couldn’t help himself. He never shied away from an opportunity to “drop some knowledge,” and as a result he was often able to shape public perception of important issues. To be a true thought leader, an organization must consistently deliver insights and intelligence that inform business decisions for its key audiences. We sometimes encourage our clients to assume they’re “the smartest in the room” and capitalize on any opportunity to offer their unique perspective and elevate the conversation.
3. The significance of media.
Hamilton relied heavily on newspapers and pamphlets, partly because they were among his only means of distributing his ideas. But even with the changing media landscape of the 21st century, traditional media is still a go-to source for executives and business leaders. Greentarget’s 2018 State of Digital & Content Marketing Survey shows that 54 percent of in-house counsel surveyed go to traditional media (e.g., The Wall Street Journal) each day for legal, business and industry news and information, and 45 percent find such sources very valuable – far above any other source. And Greentarget’s new survey of C-suite executives, the State of Digital & Content Marketing Survey – Professional Services, found that more than half of those executives get their content from traditional media every day, and 75 percent find it very valuable content for business and industry news and information.
As PR pros work to keep up with the ever-changing media landscape, I invite you to view Hamilton through the lens of your work. Consider what he knew about shaping public perception by contributing to a smarter conversation, and remember that, though we take pride in finding new and exciting ways to distribute our clients’ messages, the tried-and-true methods still resonate.
And, while it’s true that we may not be in the business of deciding “who lives or who dies,” at Greentarget we certainly believe you can tell your story.
Jordan is passionate about helping clients reach the audiences central to their business development goals.
In her free time, Jordan enjoys running along Lake Shore Drive and listening to music, preferably live in concert.