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If you’re one of the few people who are unaware, season three of House of Cards will be released tomorrow on Netflix. It will be the reason many of your coworkers call in “sick” or that a snow day is declared even if there isn’t much snow on the ground. Earlier today, in the middle of a battle with writer’s block, one of my colleagues suggested that I write a blog about what PR professionals can learn from watching the show.
If you are familiar with House of Cards, you know that Frank Underwood is always willing to teach someone a lesson or two. With this in mind, I started writing out several lessons PR pros could learn by using detailed examples, plot occurrences and anecdotes from the show. However, I realized that in doing so I was giving away key spoilers that would ruin what makes the show so great for first time watchers. And ever since a classmate ruined the ending of The Sixth Sense for me when it came out in ninth grade, I vowed never to be the one who spoils something. But I digress.
Instead, I decided to list the top five things I think PR pros can learn from Frank Underwood—no spoilers involved.

  1. Have a plan, but be ready to react to unexpected twists and turns that may occur.
  2. Know your audience(s) and how to connect with them.
  3. Be ready to quickly move on from mistakes that you will (inevitably at some point) make. But, learn from them.
  4. Do your research. The more information you have, the better.
  5. In a crisis situation, tell your story yourself—if you don’t, someone else will tell it for you.

Much like those of us in PR, Frank is continually juggling multiple situations that all require different approaches to reach an end result. By keeping the above lessons in mind, hopefully we won’t face as many obstacles as Frank when enacting a plan of action.
Now that watching House of Cards can be validated as a professional development exercise, you don’t have to feel as bad for planning to call out of work tomorrow. And to hold you over until you can start binge watching, and to marvel at how pretty Washington, D.C. is, here is a video of the show’s opening credits.