(Actor Diogo Morgado, who played Jesus in Roma Downey’s and Mark Burnett’s miniseries The Bible, was dubbed #HotJesus by fans on social media. The PR guy with him has never been dubbed hot anything by anybody.)
There’s an old communications exhortation to “Show, don’t tell” when you want to bring emotion and concreteness to what you’re writing about or discussing. Wise words, but don’t let them trick you into thinking it’s unwise to tell a story. Nothing shows better than tells than a tale of your personal experience.
Timely case in point, with it being Good Friday as I type this: A story — see, I told you! — from my book, BITE THE DOG: Build a PR Strategy to Make News That Matters. It’s from Chapter 4, about the importance of erecting a public-relations infrastructure that includes training on preparing and executing media interviews, and involves my work doing just that for the producers and stars of the record-breaking TV miniseries, THE BIBLE:
I also did some media training with Diogo Morgado, the young actor who played the lynchpin role of Jesus. Preparing him was more a matter of making him comfortable talking about faith topics with faith press. Diogo is Portuguese, a member of a culture that is intensely private about religious matters. I actually discovered a perfect story he could tell without having to talk about personal faith while we were making small talk on a flight to a convention. He told me, matter-of-factly really, that when he filmed the scene of Jesus’ Crucifixion, which like all film scenes involved a few seconds of action followed by minutes of waiting, repeated in a seemingly endless loop, he closed his eyes to rest as the minutes of inactivity dragged on. It was cold and he was exhausted and he saw in a flash in that moment, he said, images of things he regretted he had done or not done in his life. This time, it was the PR guy who got choked up. I urged Diogo to tell that story often—the power of his experience playing Jesus would, in almost all cases, deter reporters from asking him about his personal faith. They would have their “lead”—the actor who played Jesus sees a vision of his regrets while hanging on the cross.
Diogo did tell that story a few times during his press stops … and each time was able to carry his talking point (the series was moving and meaningful to those who made it and were in it, so imagine its effect on viewers) while also being able to stick to his personal agenda of not having to answer questions he deemed too personal.
A good couple of days at the headline-making factory.