When you realized today’s date, did you think of “the Ides of March” and secretly decide to watch your back?
If you did, then like me, you’re a fan of Bill the Bard. Except you probably know him by another name: William Shakespeare. Because it’s thanks to Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” that that phrase – and its most popular historical reference – live on well after the actual Caesar was assassinated back in 44 B.C.E.
And for what it’s worth, I’m not watching my back today. Not any more than usual. Because I know you have my back… right?
I don’t know if we ever stop to think about just how much of our language, sayings and references we owe to Shakespeare. And if you look at quotes from his plays, some are particularly relevant for public relations professionals… even today.
1. “This above all; to thine own self be true.” ~ Hamlet, Act III, Scene I.
In PR: This is one of the most important things we need to remember, as practitioners and advisers to our clients. What is important about what we do, and why should anyone care?
Accurately translating the “truth” of who we, or our organizations, are at our core, is critical to good story-telling, which is what we do.
2. “Can one desire too much of a good thing?” ~ As You Like It, Act IV, Scene I.
In PR: Yes. Like focusing on getting “millions of impressions” for our campaigns, initiatives, or clients. Hello, measurable objectives, where did you go?
3. “An honest tale speeds best, being plainly told.” ~ King Richard III, Act IV, Scene IV.
In PR: It’s one thing to craft elegant messages, it’s quite another to create “facts” where none exist.
The best PR doesn’t make sh*t up.
4. “I cannot tell what the dickens his name is.” ~ The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act III, Scene II.
In PR: Branding crisis, anyone? What could be worse than being so generic in your messaging that people don’t even remember who you are?
5. “Out, damned spot! out, I say!” ~ Macbeth, Act V, Scene I.
In PR: What all measurement geeks want to do to A(d) V(alue) E(quivalency).
6. “Nothing will come of nothing.” ~ King Lear, Act I, Scene I.
In PR: You can’t build a solid program until you’ve done your research, and know what measurable objectives you’re trying to reach. Otherwise, you might as well say:
7. “Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” ~ Macbeth, Act V, Scene V.
In PR: Could anything be worse than your program, or organization, be perceived as “signifying nothing”? Egads!
8. “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” ~ King Henry the Sixth, Part II, Act IV, Scene II.
In PR: Yes, this is something we might, or might not, secretly dream of. But when working on your social media policy, or crisis communications plan, getting buy-in from the legal department at the start is a much smarter way to go.
9. “Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.” ~ Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene III.
In PR: Work as a community manager, or have a component of community management as part of your responsibilities? Build it slowly; that’s much more likely to scale well.
10. “Brevity is the soul of wit.” ~ Hamlet, Act II, Scene II.
In PR: Don’t “take the opportunity to say” or do something. Just say or do it.
11. “I like not fair terms and a villain’s mind.” ~ The Merchant of Venice, Act I, Scene III.
In PR: Ethics is the one thing we can never, ever be without.
12. “Of all base passions, fear is the most accursed.” ~ King Henry the Sixth, Part I, Act V, Scene II.
In PR: Measurement is frightening. But it’s critical to do right – or start, if you’re not as yet – if you are to learn and work successfully.
13. “I’ll not budge an inch.” ~ The Taming of the Shrew, Induction, Scene I.
In PR: A recipe for disaster, since you must know how to adapt your messages for different audiences and platforms. Also a really bad attitude to have in general.
14. “Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.” ~ Twelfth Night, Act II, Scene V.
In PR: There’s nothing wrong with starting your PR program modestly. Some of the best campaigns started out small. The main thing is to keep going.
15. “Why, then the world ‘s mine oyster.” ~ The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act II, Scene II.
In PR: We don’t always make a ton of money working in public relations. But we do sometimes get the opportunity to help effect real change. The world is our oyster… if we choose to make it so.
And there you have it. Fifteen quotes from Shakespeare for PR pros (and I trust you know why I chose to share 15, as opposed to 7, or 23, or another arbitrary number, of quotes). If you enjoy them, keep them handy to pull out at your next client or team meeting… or maybe even when you just need a laugh!
What about you? Do you have a favorite quote, whether from Shakespeare or another writer, you like to apply to our crazy business? I’d love to know if so, do leave a note in the comments below.
Image: MoeplesMagazine via Flickr, CC 2.0
Some inspiring Shakespeare quotes here:
Thank you for sharing
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“An honest tale speeds best, being plainly told.” MT ginidietrich: 15 Shakespeare quotes for PR pros by shonali http://t.co/UGxHNcL31u31u
isalara DanOBrien14 ginidietrich Thank you all very much. :)
shonali isalara ginidietrich No prob, when its an article that translates complex info into interesting quotes its good
ginidietrich shonali Thats a really interesting and relatable way to look at PR
I didn’t know you had this talent. I’m jealous! I cannot do this…bravo!
ginidietrich Thank you! Of course you have this talent. You write more than almost anyone else I know!
Shonali I can’t take movies or songs and relate them to what we do. That’s a talent.
Ecmoy Thanks for sharing!
jackierafferty cmtrapolino Very glad you liked that!
shonali Very glad you shared it. :) Thanks for the great content!
cmtrapolino :) Hey – I have a favor to ask, IF it’s possible & not too much trouble. OK to DM you?
shonali Go for it – and thanks for asking to DM. I love a lady with manners!
cmtrapolino Thank you!
janemckaycomms Thanks for sharing
NickKellet Thanks for sharing, Nick!
If only Shakespeare wrote a PR code of ethics!
jmerge11 Oh! New blog post idea for me! Thank you!!
AManzellaPR Thanks for sharing!
StevenStrategic Wow, that’s a lot of hashtags. ;) Thank you!
shonali All to make sure people can find your information easier on #Twitter & #Google! #hashtagSEO
tkabbour alsdjtweets CypressMedia EdelmanSV Many thanks for sharing!
shonali of course! We found it quite interesting.
tkabbour You’re still awake?!
dasaples In bed, reading/tweeting about PR at 2:45 am when I have to be up at 6 am! Insane!!
tkabbour I am also in bed, tweeting to JG but without any luck. Have to be up at 6… so we’re both a bit crazy. LOL
LisaPetrilli danielnewmanUV 3HatsComm Thank you!
Nice! => “seanmcginnis: 15 Quotes from Shakespeare for Public Relations Pros http://t.co/odZXfcdrt6rt6 vshonaliali”
khirek What a sweet thing to say. Thank you! How are you?
shonali I’m well – ready for less snow and more spring! hoping to join you for the next #measurepr
AmyMccTobin PRMonitoringMel BethSandefur SociativeCM mlaffs ErinMFeldman calshakes Belated thanks for sharing!
arkarthick leaderswest SandraSays DELAVEGAPROPHET Thanks for sharing my Shakespeare post!
shonali Nice one; happy to share!
Thomas_Mavridis mmangen prosperitygal BrookeHowell shashib kathikruse Many thanks for sharing!
shonali I came across your article by the German PRmagazin. It publishes reading tips every day. http://t.co/atjq1WkOgAOgA DanielNeueneuen
shonali You’re welcome! I came across your great article by the German pr_magazin. It publishes reading tips every day. / ccDanielNeuenn
Thomas_Mavridis Thank you so much for letting me know, I appreciate it. :) pr_magazin DanielNeuen
kathikruse shonali awesome article. Thanks for sharing! :)
kathikruse shonali Kathi how’s your life going? Ready for spring or do you live in a warm place all year?
KDillabough Nagleblend Thank you!
Awesome, @shonali! Mr. Bill and I never really got along too well…I was more focused on roughly 300 years after him. But you have absolutely and totally captured the essence of the messages that can be found in his writings. (I also can still hear my Shakespeare prof at UGA saying, and I quote, “Shakespeare is lying in his grave laughing his a** off at the ‘interpretations’ we do of his writing.” She was right, of course, but you have piqued my interest once again in the Bard’s work and I’ll probably…with an emphasis on “probably”…revisit his works. Thanks for making my day!!
KirkHazlett “Mr Bill and I never really got along too well”… you had me laughing at that one! I’m glad you enjoyed this, my friend!
Oh man this is good. Gonna have to think of some good lines.. okay, Google them since I can’t remember everything exactly right.
The whole ‘friends, romans, countrymen’ speech from Julius Caesar. That’s PR 101 for how to work a crowd. Think the set-up for Romeo and Juliet – the prologue tells you they die, yet it still has impact at the end – can be both about managing expectations and building momentum, tipping things off to keep the audience engaged until the end.
Had to look up which play.. from Merchant of Venice “All that glisters is not gold.” PR Lessons aplenty there. Don’t fall for shiny object. Don’t get blinded by pretty, huge empty metrics. The difference in being good vs. just looking good; ye olde perception and when does it matter more? Good stuff. FWIW.
3HatsComm Love these, Davina! Esp re: Romeo & Juliet – you’re absolutely right. You know what’s going to happen right from the start, yet you stay with it. That’s amazing, isn’t it?
Did I ever tell you I played Portia in “The Merchant of Venice”? I still remember a lot of the script, and that particular bit especially. It’s such beautiful poetry.
Great post – love numbers 1 (good life lesson too) and 10 (keeping it simple)!
Nagleblend True! There are quite a few quotes on stupidity and foolishness as well that I didn’t include… I feel like with Shakespeare – and perhaps all great writers – one can find different contexts and lessons for much of their work.
Thank you for stopping by today, I appreciate it!
nittyGriddyBlog Thank you, Griddy! (and LOVED your comment, will be by soon!)
shonali Anytime Shonali :). It was a great piece!
shonali Hey Shonali – thanks so much for ur reply – for some reason I wasn’t able to reply to u over there. How are u feeling?
nittyGriddyBlog That’s so weird! But I’m better, thank you. I have to wear a headband (to keep bandage in place) for another week.
shonali Mod look? Haha :). Either way I hope you get well very soon. All the best to you.
nittyGriddyBlog J is calling it my “Mod” look. ;)
shonali I hope you recover quickly from your surgery my dear. Take good care of yourself.
VoxOptima vargasl CherylLennox martinwaxman Mark_Harai Thank you for sharing!
shonali That’s one of the most creative and literate posts I’ve ever read. I really enjoyed it (and trying to remember the quotes)
shonali That was an awesome post, Shanoli- loved it! : )
Mark_Harai Thank you!
Now that you mention it, I remember the song Maria and Captain Von Trapp sung that includes the phrase, “Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever will, but somewhere in my youth or childhood I must have done something good.”
As I was writing the post, I realized that this particular quote was also in “The Sound of Music.” Anyone know which one? Patrice, Vivek, Rachael… any guesses?
Love this post – I’m a fellow Shakespeare enthusiast too. My favourite that applies so often is a line from the end of Henry V when the King is courting the French Princess and she doesn’t want to give him a kiss because the custom is that they don’t before marriage …
“Nice customs curtsy to great kings. Dear Kate, you and I cannot be confined within the weak list of a country’s fashion. We are the makers of manners.”
If only more brands embraced their chances to be the “makers of manners.” Come to think of it, I should probably write a post about that. :-)
rohitbhargava Oh, I LOVE that!
Yes, you should write a post about it. You’ve written how many books, I don’t know… so the post will be easy-peasy for you. :)
Thanks for stopping by, Rohit!
myhoacommunity Michael – I think you will enjoy this from shonali http://t.co/LFgkjZ2mglmgl I found some symphonic crossover…
ideaguypcam Ah, as the great Bard gave Antony to speak in Julius Caesar: “Passion, I see, is catching!” Long live the symphonic crossover!
It’s been ages I know – hope you’re happy and doing well. I wanted to drop by and tell you that I loved this post :)!
As for Number 4 – “I cannot tell what the dickens his name is.”
I know you meant it for PR but I also related it to Advertising so I hope you don’t mind me sharing this example with you…Back in 2000 or 2001 – we had to watch the Super Bowl for an Advertising class I was taking. We had to watch it for the ads – cause as we use to call it – the Super Bowl is like the New Year’s of Advertising. Anywhooo….there was this fantastic part of an ad with Christopher Reeves where he got up from his wheel chair and started to walk. We were all so taken and had goose bumps that SuperMan could walk again that that’s all we focused on. So although the ad idea was great – for the life of me (or the class) – we couldn’t remember what brand or company it was for – except that it was an insurance company. All that to say – that the message they were trying to get across was overlapped by such a grand emotion that everyone forgot the rest..
Okay enough blabbering but just wanted to share that bit with you as to how that quote can also relate – though differently – to other industries.
That’s my 4 cents. Great piece again Shonali :).
Griddy OMG!!!! Hi Griddy!!
Griddy It HAS been ages! I hope you are happy and doing well too? I am, except for the minor surgery I just had (all fine, except I have to wear a headband on my head for the next two weeks to keep a bandage in place… aren’t you just trying to imagine what I look like…!).
I love the example that you shared. It’s exactly the same lesson, and what a great example. Hey, you should write a post like this, maybe, on Advertising lessons from Shakespeare?
shonali Way to connect your theater past with your PR present! A very enjoyable & instructive post, indeed.When I grow up I wanna be you.
ideaguypcam Aww. Thank you!
Why I enjoy shonali> Today on #WUL, celebrate the #IdesofMarch w/ 15#Shakespearee quotes for#PRR Pros!http://t.co/LFgkjZ2mgl2mgl
Now that was a great read. Happy Friday Shonali.
TomWillis Thank you!
shonali Yay Shakespeare: http://t.co/Aiuo09VhD1hD1