PR Time Machine: How Would You Media Train Don Draper?

The PR world was abuzz about the premier episode of season 4 of AMC's Mad Men. The reason? PR played a pretty big role in the script, as the agency’s staff eschewed advertising for a PR stunt, and hotshot ad man Don Draper blew an interview with an Advertising Age reporter big-time.

By now most of us know that Draper is a rather curious fellow—a man with many secrets and a real dark streak (and not just the hair). Draper kept those secrets intact during his interview with an Ad Age scribe. So PR News went to a not-so-secretive guy—media training expert Andy Gilman, president and CEO of CommCore Consulting Group, to ask how he would properly prepare Draper for an interview.

First, Gilman says the show vividly brings back memories of working in New York in the 1970s, when drinking at lunch—and with reporters—was the in thing to do. “In my first communications job I was wined and dined by the travel industry,” says Gilman. “Once we had lunch on a docked cruise ship, and we started with beer and ended with aquavit.”

As for Draper, Gilman says that he’d train him much like Mad Men’s media team promotes the actual show: “You want to give the media one piece of information to make them wanting more,” says Gilman. Which is right up Draper’s alley, although Draper wasn’t telling the reporter anything at all, including about his work at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

“I think the show’s creators are being true to the era,” says Gilman. “You didn’t talk much about your work, and reporters wouldn’t ask the second or third questions to get the information out of you. Think when Kennedy was president and the way reporters kept his dalliances private.” Now, says Gilman, a blogger would have something up in less than a New York minute.

Draper will get another crack at an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “The key for Don is to sell himself and make the reporter believe that he or she is the only person he’s talked to,” says Gilman.

You hear that, Don?

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  • John Radewagen

    By the second interview Don was being a storyteller, reeling the reporter in with interesting anecdotes and colorful language. I am sure his WSJ “story” was a lot better than the AdAge “piece.”