How Harry Potter Can Help Industry Pros

Anyone who knows me well knows my affinity for all things Harry Potter. Like my millions of fellow Potterheads out there, I’ve devoured the books and movies multiple times and gone as Harry – broomstick and all – on numerous Halloweens. I’ll even admit to nearly naming my dog after one of the characters.

While I shamelessly reference the series on a near-everyday basis, this time of year especially reminds me of Harry Potter with the wintry weather and the movies always being released around the holidays. It’s the perfect time of year to break out the book collection or pop in those eight DVDs for what could literally be a 24-hour movie marathon.

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After recently starting to reread the series, I began thinking that there’s a lot we PR and marketing pros can learn from Harry Potter, particularly when it comes to the Hogwarts houses. As those familiar with the series know, each of the four houses has its own unique set of qualities that defines its members upon being sorted as a first-year student.

When you sit back with your Butterbeer and think about it, many of these qualities relate to life as a PR and marketing pro. In fact, they can be essential for building a successful career in this industry.

In preparation for your own sorting hat ceremony via the quiz below, here’s a look at the four houses (in detail for you non-Potterheads) and how their traits tie into industry life and professional success…

Gryffindor. Perhaps the most highly regarded of the houses thanks to Harry, Hermione and crew, Gryffindor is best known for being brave, chivalrous and having a heart of a lion (hence their symbol). Gryffindors tend to be extroverted and extremely dedicated, giving 100% to both everyone they’re associated with and everything they do. While they will always stand up for themselves and their friends – making them natural leaders – Gryffindors also tend to be more prideful, stubborn and emotionally unpredictable than members of the other houses.

In this industry, it’s important to have the courage to take risks – here at SHIFT, trying (and failing) is an expectation. Given that we’re often working in teams on client campaigns and projects, collaboration is also key. Not only should we work well with our teams, but we should stand up for ourselves and go to bat for our coworkers, too. All the same, we must know when to put our stubbornness aside and acknowledge when we’re wrong as well as keep our emotions in check when something doesn’t go our way.

Hufflepuff. Hufflepuffs are easily overlooked and get the least love at Hogwarts, but they boast some of the best traits of any of the houses. They’re exceptionally dependable, diligent and loyal – making them great students and even greater friends. Hufflepuffs are kind, keep level heads and prioritize cooperation over conflict. They’re very receptive to constructive criticism, but are not as impulsive or open to others’ views as other houses. And though extroverted, they’re far less socially ambitious than their Gryffindor counterparts.

When it comes to the workplace, Hufflepuffs display many desirable qualities – reliability, hard work and fierce loyalty go a long way in building relationships up and down the corporate ladder. Yet, while loyalty is a virtue, we shouldn’t go so far as to be “yes men or women” who simply agree with a boss or coworker for the sake of not rocking the boat. Be open to colleagues’ ideas, but challenge them as appropriate in brainstorms, meetings, etc. Similarly, be willing to be impulsive and run with an idea while maintaining a level head that keeps everyone in check. And while many extroverts can be shy, it’s important to still push ourselves to attend professional events (e.g., conferences, networking events) and step into the limelight when necessary, too.

Ravenclaw. Probably the most mysterious of Hogwarts’ students, Ravenclaws are smart, clever and highly capable. They tend to be more introverted and research-oriented and are often found in the library studying. Yet, they are in no way dull, but rather witty, fun loving individuals with creative minds that help them think outside the box. Ravenclaws are wise, intuitive listeners who are sought out for advice, although they don’t generally have time for differing points of view. They prefer small gatherings to large groups, so their own opinions aren’t always widely known.

To work in PR or marketing, you must be both smart and creative – two of our values here at SHIFT. Our industry places a premium on research, so embrace it to more smartly approach your work and showcase your outside-the-box thinking that will help set your campaigns up for success. Also be ready to impart your wisdom and advice to colleagues seeking feedback or even just a second set of eyes on something. While you may not agree with their approach or ideas, be open to them. And though you may prefer small groups, step up and share your own kick@$$ thoughts with the whole staff!

Slytherin. Last but not least we have Slytherin – the most misunderstood of the four houses. Yeah, Malfoy and his minions are obnoxious, but they do have their redeeming points. Slytherins are shrewd, cunning and pragmatic. Like Gryffindors, they’re incredibly dedicated and determined, but are far more driven by ambition than pride. This is where they get in trouble – together with their cynicism and lack of outward expression, they can appear cold and even ruthless.

In this industry, being cunning isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Remaining sharp and resolute can help you convert quality media coverage for clients and sales leads into revenue for your company. Pragmatism is highly beneficial, too, and can help PR pros manage client expectations and marketers know when to pursue potential leads. When it comes to your smarts and ambition, stay skilled and motivated but never to the point where you appear conceited or callous to those around you.

As you can see from this rundown, every house has its own unique set of qualities. Sure, some may be seen as negative (ahem, Slytherin), but they don’t have to be. It’s all in how you spin them in your work and working relationships.

When you have a few minutes, treat yourself to a couple pumpkin pasties and take this trusty quiz. If you need a second opinion to confirm your results, this more extensive quiz will definitely do the trick.

When you get your results, think about how your house’s qualities help define you as an industry pro. Start honing these traits and learn how to leverage them in your career. Also consider the qualities of the other houses and not only which ones you embody, but those you can begin enhancing to become a better professional as well.

Taking the quiz and indulging in some self-reflection may just be the magic you need to kick your career up a notch.

Photo source: ChicagoNow

Zach Burrus
Marketing Analyst

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