I was hooked on “The Bold Type” as soon as I saw a trailer, and four seasons in, I’m obsessed. I love shows with strong female leads and this one completely blew me away. Front and center are three young women with big dreams and all the willpower to make them happen, even when things look bleak. The best part about this series though, is the CEO. Unlike so many other plots where the CEO of a big magazine is cold and cruel (sorry, Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada), Jacqueline Carlyle of Scarlet Magazine takes a big role in helping to build up her employees and see them succeed, instead of making their work lives miserable. It’s refreshing to see empowering relationships between leaders and employees on the big screen, and it’s one of the reasons this show is one of my favorites!
While I was watching, I started noticing some great public relations tips mixed in with the struggles Jane, Kat and Sutton face while they’re chasing after their dreams, and I couldn’t wait to share them with you! So get comfy and read on to find out how the brave ladies of Scarlet Magazine can help your public relations efforts. But FYI, if you haven’t seen the show yet, there are spoilers ahead.
Be Bold with Your Business’ Public Relations
1. Don’t Be Afraid To Leave Your Cards On The Table
In The Bold Type, Jacqueline knows how great of a writer Jane can be if she gets out of her own way. She pushes Jane to lay all her cards on the table and be completely honest with both her readers and herself. It takes a lot of work, but this strategy elevates Jane’s work, boosts her confidence and ultimately leads to her writing her own vertical for the online magazine.
Creating public relations content for your business can be just as scary as writing articles about your own life experiences. After all, being open and honest with internet users you’ve never met can make you feel very vulnerable! But the good news is no one knows or embodies your brand better than you do. Write for that vision and don’t be afraid to show your readers who you are!
2. At The Same Time, Know When To Post And When To Stop
This lesson is one that the ambitious and justice-driven Kat is constantly having to relearn, especially when her on/off girlfriend Adena is involved. Early on in the show, while Adena was detained in an airport in her home country. Kat was furious that she was being held and wanted to use her authority as the head of social media for Scarlet to help free her. The other executives at Scarlet, including Jacqueline, knew doing this would cause more harm than good and convinced Kat to hold off. While it was difficult for Kat to not send out a #FreeAdena tweet, she kept Scarlet out of the situation. Jacqueline approached her after Adena was released, telling Kat that she made the right choice to not say anything, but that wouldn’t always be the right choice. Later in the show, Kat did the opposite, releasing sensitive information that was holding back diversity initiatives. While she felt she did the right thing, this decision ultimately led to her termination at the magazine.
This same rationality is needed when writing content for your brand. It’s easy to get carried away with personal opinions, but certain topics should never touch your business (we generally recommend avoiding divisive topics like politics and religion). Keep all your business’ content, from blog posts to social media updates, free from heated topics and opinions. Anything you publicly post reflects on your brand, and you have to decide if you’re willing to take that risk.
3. Empower Your Employees
When I sat down to watch the first episode of The Bold Type, I was honestly expecting Jacqueline to be another Miranda Priestly. Stereotypically in films and T.V. shows, CEOs of successful fashion magazines and the like have that role of ‘mean boss.’ I was very happy to learn I was utterly wrong about that. The more I watch this show, the more I realize how much it’s about empowering women to chase after their ambitions and turn their dreams into reality.
Whether you’re just starting a company or you’ve been growing for years, this is a lesson you should always keep in mind. Your employees are a big part of why your business is as successful as it is, so make sure you’re letting your team know how much you appreciate their work. Company culture starts at the top; the more you empower your staff, the better they’ll turn around and serve your clients.
In the show, Jacqueline acts as a mentor to her employees. She’s firm in her decisions and she always makes sure everything that happens is in Scarlet’s best interest, but she also takes the time to nurture her people and make sure they’re getting out of work as much as they’re putting in.
Consider Sutton’s relationship with Oliver in Scarlet’s fashion department. When she wanted to become a designer, he pulled all the strings he could to get her into an intensive, and he helped her when she wanted to realize her dream of a stylist. Oliver is hard on her, and even denied her promotions on the grounds of “needing [her] here,” but he’s like a father to Sutton.
Ultimately, Oliver had to face himself and his internal biases to give Sutton the promotion she deserved. When was the last time you spoke to your employees about how they feel in their jobs? Act as a mentor for them. Help them grow in their own skill and confidence just as they’ve helped your business grow.
4. Be Fearless
Sutton tends to play close to home when it comes to her life, and a prime example of this is her chasing a job she doesn’t really want because it provides more financial security. That is one approach, but without taking any risks, you rob yourself of the chance to see where your dreams can take you. Sutton really wants to work in fashion, not advertising sales, and while it takes her some time to admit it, once she does it’s like she lifts chains off of herself. You can see the relief she feels to finally be honest about what she really wants. It’s a long journey, and she has to fight for the things she wants: trying her hand at design, becoming a stylist and even pursuing her future husband.
When you’re starting your brand, you need to be just as fearless. If our CEO Erika Taylor Montgomery let fear hold her back, Three Girls Media would never have been founded. Be honest about what you want your company and your brand to be, and then do everything in your power to make it happen.
5. Know When To Chase Success
I love Kat. She knows when to chase down a good thing. In the first episode, Adena, a very talented Muslim photographer rescinds her decision to let Scarlet run her photo spread. Kat, being the fearless person she is, finds Adena and convinces her that letting Scarlet run her story would be the best thing for her career (and she was right, the story gained tons of attention on social media).
You need to know when it’s time to chase after your own success. At the end of the day, you are the only person who is able to determine the prosperity of your business. When an opportunity comes up that you know will help advance your brand, be like Kat and don’t let it get away.
6. Be Honest About What You Want
Whether it’s Jane admitting that she can’t forgive Pinstripe’s infidelity, Kat confronting her own sexuality or Sutton demanding to be taken seriously as a stylist, the women of The Bold Type know that success and honesty go hand-in-hand.
Sometimes in public relations, you have to ask for what you want, or you’re not going to get it. Whether it’s requesting feedback from a client you courted but didn’t land, negotiating terms of a contract or pushing to improve a campaign, the worst question is the one you don’t ask. Pursue what’s right for you with kindness and respect, and you just might receive it.
7. Be Confident!
This is an important aspect of The Bold Type. It’s so fun to see Jane come out of her shell to confront her ex, Sutton finally gains the confidence to admit she wants to pursue a career in fashion and Kat refuses to take no for an answer when she knows diversity is the right move for Scarlet. These ladies don’t back down from a challenge, and neither should you!
Whatever you do, do it with confidence. If you’re constantly unsure of yourself, not only will your readers and potential clients sense this and be less likely to work with your company, but you’ll miss so many opportunities to grow your brand. It’s okay to try something different. Not only will you help push your brand forward, but the confidence you gain from going outside your comfort zone will encourage you to continue searching for new ways to build up your business.
8. Work hard
Jane, Kat and Sutton put in years of internship and assistant work in order to achieve their dreams. They used every opportunity they had as a stepping stone to help get them where they wanted to be, and they used their networking connections to continue learning and improving in their field.
You can’t wait for your brand to become successful by itself! Every chance you get, work on your business’ public relations. Create content to reach your audience so they are inspired to work with your business; look for opportunities to learn something new. I know it can be frustrating when you’re just starting out, but the fact remains that you can’t skip ahead to the part where you’re already successful, and you shouldn’t want to! The experiences you have and the skills you learn along the way will serve to make you better at what you do, so look for every possible opportunity you can to learn and grow!
I love the great public relations tips The Bold Type has to offer, and I can’t wait to see what others I can find as the show progresses. If you have some free time and a Hulu account, I highly recommend you get to know these bold ladies a little more. And if you find any other public relations tips in the show, let me know in the comments!
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