(Post written by our 2020 summer intern, Dana Berry).
If you’re anything like us, your long-time obsession over “Hamilton” is rekindled ever since it was released on Disney+. A musical primarily about a lesser-known founding father, “Hamilton” focuses on the life of Alexander Hamilton and those around him as they fight for independence from Great Britain. We’ve all read the history books, so we know how it goes – the founding fathers wanted more independence, they rebelled against King George and Great Britain, spilled some tea, fought in a massive war, long story short……Independence!
But “Hamilton” is a different experience completely, as it gives us an inside look into who these founding fathers really were. We can learn lessons from each of the major characters, even from a public relations perspective:
Alexander Hamilton – Don’t be afraid to be bold
Duh! The musical wouldn’t have existed without its lead. Hamilton had his faults, like everyone else, but he was fearlessly bold in his ideals and actions. In PR, we should aspire to be this confident and outspoken. When certain issues arise, it’s important not to be afraid to speak our minds and think of new solutions. Hamilton thinks outside the box, and he’s not afraid to be bold, which is what gets him so far in life. Staying the course is fine at times, but change is important, too.
Aaron Burr – Think before you act
Burr, portrayed as the primary antagonist, was criticized throughout the play for not having strong enough opinions. His character’s famous line, “Talk less, smile more,” sums up Burr’s mentality. While there is certainly a time for talking, there is some truth behind his words. In PR, we should always think before we act. Planning ahead and being strategic are never bad ideas.
Thomas Jefferson – Stick to what you believe in
The world is full of issues PR professionals are often tasked with addressing. How we do so demonstrates how we lead. Being wishy-washy about where we stand can get us into trouble. Jefferson demonstrates that strong values are beneficial. Another famous line, spoken by Hamilton, sums up the importance of taking a stance: “But when all is said and all is done, Jefferson has beliefs. Burr has none.”
We can learn lessons from each of the major characters, even from a public relations perspective.
George Washington – Don’t underestimate the power of leadership
Washington is the most recognizable character in “Hamilton.” We see throughout the musical how each character looks up to him. That’s because he was such a strong leader. An entire song is dedicated to how nice it must be to have Washington on your side — not because people feared him, but because they respected him. As PR professionals, we should want that level of respect from our clients and coworkers. Think about how you can be the George Washington of your team.
The Schuyler Sisters – Confidence is key…..
Could we possibly choose just one? Angelica and Eliza were both strong characters throughout the musical. Eliza marries Hamilton, but we see that she is often by herself. At the end, when they are both at a low point, he needs her more than she needs him, demonstrating how she has the real strength in that partnership. Angelica was a trailblazer, portraying strength and independence throughout the show. She says at one point she would like to compel Jefferson to “include women in the sequel!” In PR, we need to be confident in our actions. Clients want to work with professionals who are confident in their abilities and can take the lead on projects.
King George III – ….But don’t be cocky
Everyone’s favorite (musical) villain! King George, though completely enjoyable in the musical, didn’t teach us what to do, but rather what not to do. Being confident is important, but being cocky is a whole different story. In PR, being overconfident and unwilling to see different points of view is a huge no-no. Public relations is a team-oriented environment, and that means learning to work with different people and different opinions. It’s important to respect them — otherwise, your team won’t want to work with you anymore.