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The World of Communication, as Told by Hollywood

Published on February 10, 2017, at 4:23  p.m.
by Allison Morris.

You’ve seen it. The romantic comedy with the female protagonist frantically hailing a cab with her phone in one hand and Starbucks latte in the other. She’s on her way to work and when she gets there, she’s met with cheery co-workers and a demanding boss urging her into a board room that overlooks the city.

With popular 21st century movies and shows like “13 Going on 30,” “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Sex and the City,” it’s hard to perceive the communication field as anything less than writing for a popular magazine or planning lush events from the fanciest corner office in Manhattan. If you’re a “Scandal” fan, then it’s Olivia Pope’s management of drama and crises that draws you in.

Photo by Laine Morris

Thanks to depictions in film and TV, the communication industry is filled with dramatic and romantic nuances, leaving viewers with a visible disconnect between the job and reality. Meanwhile, those within the field are left with unrealistic career standards to uphold.

While Hollywood misrepresents the communication industry in some ways, perhaps it hasn’t gotten everything wrong. I’ve found that hidden within the exaggerated story lines and picture perfect characters are a few takeaways for those of us entering the communication field.

Don’t be afraid of your first job
If there’s anything we can learn from Anne Hathaway’s character, Andy, in “The Devil Wears Prada,” it’s that getting the job you so desperately desire right away isn’t always attainable. You may find yourself working for a demanding and irritable boss like Miranda Priestly, who challenges your ideals and abilities, but it’s important to remember the potential lessons your first job will teach you along the way.

Strategy is everything
“Scandal” is an appropriate name for the show starring Kerry Washington, as her character, Olivia Pope, attempts to cover up quite a number of them. Though some may see her reactivity to certain situations on the show as shedding a bad light on PR, it is her ability to calmly execute a strategy that makes her effective in her job. Crisis management is certainly no easy task, but Olivia Pope displays the value of reaching beyond a difficult situation to build a strong network and properly execute a strategic plan.

Take the challenge
In “13 Going on 30,” Jenna Rink finds herself in a midst of chaos as an editor of “Poise,” a magazine on the verge of folding. In a meeting one day, it is Jenna and several other writers who are tasked with finding a fresh direction for the magazine. Jenna then boldly takes on the task, creating a plan and presentation for the future of the magazine. Though it didn’t work out in the end, Jenna taking on the challenge earned her the approval of her superiors at the magazine and improved her own self-confidence.

For those of us entering the communication industry, the thought of a first job and the responsibilities that come with it can seem frightening. With Hollywood creating a cliché of sorts, it is challenging to focus on the reality of the industry.

Photo by Jana Eynde

So, the next time you find yourself watching one of these movies or shows, pay closer attention to the key principles and less to the drama. You just might be able to find an important message hidden within all the glamour and romance. You can’t always rely on scripted movies and shows to guide your profession and goals, but perhaps not all hope is lost when it comes to Hollywood’s depiction of the communication field.

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