Finding the PR Lining in “Jumanji”

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Published on January 31, 2018, at 4:40 p.m.
by Maret Montanari.

“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” continues to make money moves in the box office as it’s estimated to have raked in a whopping $767 million worldwide. The movie does prove a global box-office success, but it also translates important lessons all public relations practitioners can utilize to achieve success in their professional lives.

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I will admit I have never seen the original “Jumanji” film and wasn’t too interested in seeing the remake, but at the insistence of my friends, I reluctantly joined them for a movie outing. I usually enjoy action pictures, but the advertising for “Jumanji” did little to entice me. However, I was very thankful the trailers didn’t do this movie justice.

The remake is much more than just four characters running from man-eating rhinos or defanging a black mamba. “Jumanji” tells the story of how four individuals prove anyone can accomplish anything they put their minds to. Just like the characters in “Jumanji,” PR practitioners face challenges every day. We may not be pressed with saving the land of Jumanji, but the movie still translates key takeaways we can apply to our professional lives.

Be OK with stepping out of your comfort zone.
The four characters unknowingly transformed into the game’s avatars when they arrived in the foreign land of Jumanji. The “geek” surprisingly turned into the hunky muscle man, and the self-absorbed teenage girl achieved her worst nightmare of being a “dumpy professor.” Despite their initial shock and unfamiliarity with their new bodies, they quickly learned to accept their transformations or risk losing the game. Of course they wanted to go home, but the only way to do that was to ban together and accept their situation.

While I have yet to hear of a PR practitioner body swapping, I do know we are often faced with situations where we aren’t familiar with the task at hand. This is not the time to run scared. Instead, we need to march straight into battle, perhaps not with a boomerang in one hand and a knife in the other, but with an open mind. Understanding opportunities like this will only allow you to evolve as a professional and will set you apart in the long run.

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Be able to think on your feet.
Multiple times, the game forced the four characters to make fast decisions. When a black mamba stared Ruby Roundhouse in the face, there wasn’t much time to think before she had to make a move. In every part of the movie, the Jumanji characters proved you must be ready for what life throws at you next. When Moose Finbar accidentally dropped the jewel, which would save Jumanji, into a pit of blood-thirsty rhinos, Dr. Bravestone devised a successful plan to get the jewel back in under two minutes.

A PR crisis might be impossible to solve in the same amount of time, but Dr. Bravestone’s actions indicate you should always have a plan in place for emergency situations. Sometimes life throws you unexpected curveballs, though, so be prepared to use the resources at hand to solve an issue in a timely manner.

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You should always welcome diversity.
With four different characters in the game, each person brought different strengths and weaknesses to the table. Prof. Shelly Oberon used his cartography skills to read the map that was unintelligible to all of the other characters. If Oberon hadn’t been in the game, the other characters would likely have never made it out, and vice versa.

Some might be as lucky as Dr. Bravestone to have no weaknesses, but I bet you that’s not the case for most, if not all, of us. When we collaborate with individuals from different cultures, backgrounds and experiences, we position ourselves to generate more diverse ideas and better work. Don’t let diversity scare you; instead, it should be welcomed and embraced, as we all have something we can learn from one another.

“Jumanji” reportedly means “many effects,” and just as the game had many effects, so do we as PR practitioners. Use these takeaways to leave your mark on the public relations industry as the characters did on the land of Jumanji. We have the opportunity to change the world, but only if we try.

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