There is a lot of theatre in the world of public relations. With game show host finesse, some PR professionals are able to use subtle psychological techniques to get around deadline-driven, often underpaid journalists to get the right story out in front of their publics.

No one does this better than Scandal character Olivia Pope. Publicly, she is the partner of law firm Olivia Pope & Associates based in Washington, D.C., but underneath that public persona, her real work lies in crisis and reputation management of some of Washington’s most influential politicians. With Scandal ending last month after seven seasons, what can viewers learn from Olivia from a PR perspective?

1. Check your emotions and personal problems at the door

While Olivia is extremely passionate about what she does, she never loses her cool. Fear, doubt, rage — all those emotions detract from a strategic, calculated communications plan, or a political campaign. A Public Relations professional keeps calm under pressure and is able to keep those emotions and personal problems away from the situation at hand.

2. Learn how to keep other people’s secrets and when to be discrete

When a person or organization is going through a crisis, it does well to keep the skeletons in their closets private. Olivia does not air other people’s dirty laundry for personal gain, or to feel powerful. Pope is the embodiment of class, and confidentiality. PR pros are not only discreet with confidential issues that do not need to come to light, but must also be discrete when deciding what needs to be revealed to show transparency.

3. Understand clothes communicate, so dress to tell a story

According to some job search manuals, more than 50 percent of what colleagues and other people see is communicated by what we wear, and our body language. Indirect communication is powerful. So wear that white trench coat symbolizing purity and decency, especially when one deals with the dark underground of city politics.

4. Surround yourself with different perspectives

Pope assembles an extremely diverse team with varying skill sets. There’s Huck, the tech guy introvert who’s a former assassin, while Olivia is an extrovert who is very good at making systems and directing others. Being an astute leader is about hiring people with skill sets different than your own, rather than hiring mirror images of themselves. Different perspectives help provide a fresh look at issues and help create opportunities for new problem solving – two of the top reasons to hire outside consultants.

5. Understand your positive and negative attributes

By understanding your weaknesses as much as your strengths, you can do something to keep those weaker points in check. A big part of this process is getting to know oneself, and that can be a hard thing to do when one is expected to forget their personal selves in business. By understanding strength and weakness of others, however, it can be easier to work towards changing perceptions of people and corporations.

6. Tap into the power of social media

Social media has tremendous power: it’s the best way to change perceptions of a person or brand in the short term. Most people are exposed to a number of social media touchpoints each day, whether it’s a Twitter tweet, a YouTube video or a Facebook post. Producers of Scandal have used fan tweets to make the show even more popular; the more a show is tweeted about, the more its Neilson rating goes up. By allowing the talent of Scandal to tweet alongside fans when an episode aired, fans become part of the Scandal-verse. Who doesn’t want to be immersed in a show all about intrigue and mystery? Brands need to understand how people engage with them through social media and the types of experiences they want.

Although Olivia Pope was not a public relations professional, she was an outside consultant who understood the power of the press, how to deal with people and how best to formulate a story in times of crisis. Those are powerful skills for organizations big and small to understand when wanting to grow its reputation – even from the often-far-fetched show of intrigue and espionage.

Blog submitted by Nick Puhjera, Dip. P.R. Nick is a recent graduate of the public relations program at MacEwan University. He worked as a reporter/photographer for the Wetaskiwin Times Advertiser after studying journalism arts at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, and English literature at the University of Alberta.