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PR Themes In The 2015 Oscar Nominations

PR and the OscarsWhether you’re a seasoned PR pro or fresh-faced intern, you can read more into the annual Oscar nominations than just pop culture effluvia. The nominations often reflect deeper societal themes with relevance to PR and communications. Here are some examples.

“Hijacking” social issues is always a plus. Two of the top contenders for best picture, “Spotlight” and “The Big Short,” elucidate real life incidents of cultural importance: the Catholic Church molestation scandal and the 2008 financial crisis, respectively. These topics are so rich and ripe for conversation that the movies resonated with audiences. In PR, we look for these connections to issues to make a company or a product “mediaworthy” – even if we have to sometimes work very hard to create them.

Bigger budgets equal bigger exposure? Not always, but in the case of the reported $165 million spent on “The Revenant,” be assured that the spend is equal to the spectacle. The film grossed $60 million in its first days out, and the 12 Oscar nominations garnered are expected to give it quite a bump. We aren’t insisting that great PR be defined by a great budget, but generous funding can take “the little idea that could” to higher heights.

Playing the “sympathy” card. Not to be crass, but it’s no coincidence that the chameleonic Eddie Redmayne, who won Best Actor honors for his performance as Stephen Hawking last year, is nominated again this year as the transgender “Danish Girl.” Anyone who’s working on creating a story for a business partner knows that adding a dimension related to a social issue can ensure increased interest.

Larger than life characters make great copy.  Two standout performances this year are based on some very colorful “real-life” characters, famously blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo and Steve Jobs. Their stories are incredible and true. When a PR pro is tasked with telling the media about a company CEO or other “voice,” who hasn’t wished for one as charismatic and courageous as either of those two?

What the snubs say. The buzz right now is on the non-nominations (save Jennifer Lawrence for Best Actress) for David O. Wright’s “Joy.” Was this a matter of complacency? Same cast, same oddball characters? Or just not a great film? Whatever the reason, an #Oscarfail, like a PR campaign fallen short, calls for introspection and deconstruction to see where improvements and changes can be made the next time around. Isn’t that what all smart PR teams do post-campaign?

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