It’s that magical and very busy time of year when PR agencies are prepping for the holiday season and are happy for a fun distraction. Halloween allows us to celebrate, or make a mockery of, our heroes in PR, journalism, and media. Here are some ideas for PR-relevant costumes for Halloween 2018.
This costume allows a pair of PR buddies to pay homage to the fourth estate while also going vintage 1970s. Grab a friend and study All The President’s Men for inspiration. It’ll be about fat ties, rolled-up sleeves, big hair, and sideburns. And if you have a jowly, dark-stubbled friend, bring him along as Richard Nixon.
For a PR pro determined to salute friends in the media with a little humor, Ron Burgundy from Anchorman: Legend of Ron Burgundy is a solid alternative, and Halloween shops still sell that costume!
Talk about topical: PR and media types can dial up the snark by showing up dressed as TV pundit Megyn Kelly – but, please, not in blackface! This week, in a discussion about a report that some universities were banning such costumes, Kelly opined that blackface for Halloween is not a racist trope, sparking a backlash. Yesterday she offered a teary apology on the air. She must have known she was being provocative; was it just a bid for publicity to boost her ratings? In any case, Kelly isn’t long at NBC, so maybe add a “freelance” press i.d.
2018 said goodbye to “Scandal,” so if you feel you can pull it off, why not salute the recently retired queen of crisis PR, Olivia Pope? You’ll be unmistakable in a wrap or trench coat, knockoff Prada handbag, and impeccably shiny ‘do. Most importantly, carry an air of hauteur and BYOW; to be pegged as Ms. Pope, you need your own glass of red wine! (You can even opt for her go-to Camille from Crate & Barrel.)
Finally, it helps to be stunningly gorgeous, quiver your lips on command, and bring a Fitz-like date with wavy hair and a chiseled jaw. With that final touch, you can assure yourself and everyone else with Olivia’s famous words, “It’s handled.”
One of the most beloved fictional PR professionals ever created is the press secretary to Martin Sheen’s President Bartlett, C.J. Cregg, played by the great Allison Janney. Straight out of Sorkin’s 1999-2006 liberal fantasy of a functional, intelligent government, C.J. makes for a nostalgic PR tribute, especially if you’re a statuesque, fast-talking female. The little girl pictured here got it right on the money with her lanyard, power suit, and moxie. West Wing watchers will remember that C.J. should always be holding a leather folder and a stack of papers of indeterminate purpose while walking swiftly. (The crossed-arms posture for either Pope or Cregg is optional.)
Love her or hate her, our current White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders makes a fun costume. Simply grab a long brown wig, string of pearls, sensible knit dress, and a flag pin for good measure. If you really want to go all out, pencil on heavy eyebrows and carry a cardboard podium.
It’s always good to get in character to enliven your costume. For Huckabee Sanders, deepen your voice, let your drawl out, and scowl. But PR people, be cautious which parties you attend in this outfit. Aidy Bryant does an amazing SHS on Saturday Night Live. So did this gentleman pictured here.
Zuckerberg’s public image used to come mainly from the film The Social Network, but now it’s more likely to resemble his seemingly continual TV apologia and Capitol Hill testimony. Facebook’s founder has become a major face of Big Tech in crisis for 2018, so the costume is perfect for the PR person. Grab a curling iron, a suit (or a hoodie and sandals for the pre-2016 Zuck), and be prepared to explain why you allowed people’s data to be stolen. If you can’t get your hair to curl, consider a solid alternative PR crisis costume and go as Elon Musk with a vape.
A PR person can’t go wrong by going to the Halloween party as Samantha Jones from Sex and The City. While she may not be the most topical PR character, or even an accurate stereotype ( though her affinity for cocktails is right on), she may be the most famous fictional PR pro. Part of the fun of this costume is the throwback fashion and the requisite martini glass. To get in character, add a little swoon to your voice, raise it an octave, and prepare a few suggestive one-liners, like “I’m a try-sexual. I’ll try anything once.”
So you’re the erudite PR person who wants to wow your colleagues at the party by showing up as a godfather of the biz. In that case, dressing as the venerable Arthur Page (1883-1960) may fit the bill. Page, who was an executive with AT&T for twenty years, has left a rich legacy in corporate communications with his famed document of PR ethics, the Page Principles, as well as his eponymous communications association, the Arthur W. Page Society. For this PR getup, pull out a 1950s business suit, spectacles, and the coup de grace, a pipe. But don’t worry if people don’t recognize you. You can educate them about PR history, even if you don’t scare anyone.