5 Inspiring PR Tips from Harold Ramis’ ‘Groundhog Day’


Same as it ever was.

Harold Ramis, the comedic genius behind some of Hollywood’s most iconic movies, died Monday following a long illness. A fitting tribute would be for communicators to curl up with “Groundhog Day,” which is arguably Ramis’ best film and holds some inspiring lessons on how to find that elusive work-life balance.

"Groundhog Day" (1993) follows curmudgeonly TV meteorologist Phil Connors (Bill Murray), news producer Rita (Andie MacDowell) and cameraman Larry (Chris Elliott), who work for a Pittsburgh TV station and travel to Punxsutawney, Pa., to cover the annual Groundhog Day festivities on February 2.

Phil files the report but a blizzard forces the team to spend the night in Punxsutawney.

Phil wakes up to find that he is reliving February 2 over and over. The day plays out exactly as it did before, with no one but Phil aware of the time loop. The phenomenon gives Connors license for all sorts of misanthropic behavior. He steals money, drives recklessly and gets thrown in jail.

After telling Rita about his predicament, Phil is inspired by her positive outlook and vows to improve himself. Rather than use Groundhog Day to wreak havoc again and again, Phil leverages the day not only to be a good Samaritan, but expand his horizons.

With that as our backdrop, here are five tips for PR people on how to create a work-life balance and avoid—despite the fluid changes in marketing communications—endlessly reliving their own Groundhog Day.

  1. Be kind to your colleagues and clients. Work challenges can be mitigated if you are inherently simpatico with your collaborators.
  2. Find a personal connection to your audience. The daily grind can be monotonous. Find that one element about your audience that keeps you inspired, so the inevitable rough patches are easier to navigate.
  3. Take up a hobby, or hit the gym. A great way to break up the workweek is to have a class (or some diversion) to go to so you don’t suffer from tunnel vision. Having an enthusiasm or two should help to keep the day-to-day gig fresh.
  4. Create alternative ways to tell the story about your products and services. Peel the onion back a few layers to find some of the unheralded benefits of your products and services as well as who the end users are and how you can cultivate relationships with them.
  5. Take your job seriously; don’t take yourself seriously. It’s an old standby, but one that, if mastered, will endear you to your colleagues and, perhaps more important, prevent you from living your own Groundhog Day.

 Follow Matthew Schwartz on Twitter: @mpsjourno1

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About Matthew Schwartz

Group Editor, PR News: Matthew Schwartz is group editor of PR News, the leading source of trends, how-to content and best practices for PR professionals. Matthew leads the editorial strategy for PR News’ premium content products—including its weekly newsletter—and for its digital presence. Matthew was editor of PR News from 2003-2005. Prior to returning to PR News, Matthew was a reporter for Crain’s BtoB and Media Business magazines, where he covered business marketers and media companies. He was also editor of BMA Buzz, a biweekly email newsletter covering B2B marketing, advertising and social media, and contributing writer to Advertising Age Custom. Matthew has helped to launch blogs on behalf of ZoomInfo and direct marketing agency The Kern Organization. He also spent a few years in cable-news precincts, working as a writer/producer at CNN and Fox News Channel.

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