This summer marked the 20th anniversary of the cult classic “Clueless,” which also happens to be one of my personal favorites.
The 1995 film is based on Jane Austen’s “Emma” and stars Alicia Silverstone as Cher Horowitz, a well-meaning but superficial teenager in Beverly Hills. Pop culture fanatics know that the movie gave rise to some of the 90s most iconic fashions and catchphrases; but what is less well known is that Cher is, like, totally the ideal PR maven.
OK, so the analogy isn’t perfect. After running this idea by a fellow PR pro, she pointed out that Cher thinks Kuwait is in the valley; you need a little geography knowledge to pitch.
But still, you’d be buggin’ to think Cher didn’t have what it takes to dominate modern communications. Here are some lessons we can bring to the PR world from everyone’s favorite fashionista:
- Be connected: No doubt Cher would thrive in today’s hyper-connected culture; she was on her phone 24/7. If she were in charge of a campaign, Cher would be completely unafraid of pitching reporters via phone.
- Dress for success: If this isn’t self-explanatory, you may need to re-watch the movie. I hope not sporadically.
- Know your worth: Cher deftly turns down unwanted male attention with her now famous catchphrase, “As if.” Treat your client like a total Betty – no need to slum it with low-level brand partners or media outlets that won’t provide the results you need.
- Look for synergies: Cher loves playing matchmaker, and fixes up Mr. Hall and Miss Geist to get them to ease up on grading. This coupling fares better than her matchup of Elton and Tai, because they actually had things in common. Look for clients, partners and outlets that are a natural fit together, and you could get a win-win-win.
- Spend time on the important stuff: When training for her drivers test, Cher muses that she doesn’t need to practice parallel parking because “everywhere you go has valet.” Be well versed in the important skills you need to use and teach every day (like stopping at stop signs or getting on the freeway).
- See others’ potential: Cher loves a good makeover – she helps the hopeless new girl Tai assimilate to Beverly Hills, forging a long-term friendship. She also takes a fresh look at her dorky former stepbrother to find romantic potential. Don’t overlook burgeoning brands or newbie PR pros just because they don’t immediately fit your culture.
- You’ll have moments of self-doubt: Sometimes this industry is way harsh. When not even Rodeo Drive can stop Cher from bumming, she proclaims, “Everything I think and everything I do is wrong.” It’s natural to have campaigns or clients or weeks that just don’t go how you hoped.
- Let things roll off: Sometimes the only reply you can offer a difficult client, co-worker or a reporter is simply, “Whatever.”