Show’s Over! 4 PR Secrets Program Finales Can Teach Us

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5W PR in New York

TV finales have been all over the map with viewers. Most go quietly, having lived long past their relevance to all but the fiercest fans. The phrase, to “jump the shark” that is used to describe something that has gone over the edge into silliness even comes from such a program, an episode of Happy Days where The Fonz literally jumps a shark while water skiing in a leather jacket. It may have made perfect sense to producers at time, but even fans just shook their heads and looked away. Here is how you create a great strategy marketing for a show.

#1 – The end isn’t always the end

Fans decide when you are over, even if producers have other ideas. For shows that live past their expiration date, there is shark jumping infamy. For others, whose fan bases refuse for them to die, there is syndication. The Internet is where products and services that “won’t die” can live forever. Does your brand have an effective Internet longevity strategy?

#2 – Some things need to be finished

Leaving too many things unfinished can frustrate fans. Sure, you want to keep your options open so there’s room for growth, but don’t just drop something that people enjoy without giving them an alternative. Storylines that keep “evolving” but never get anywhere might be intriguing in the short term, but long-term they leave fans frustrated and unfulfilled. The same could be said for a brand that keeps promising but never delivers.

#3 – You can’t let viewers down

Similar to the previous point, the end must give viewers real closure. They are emotionally connected to these characters and their stories, so the shows must honor that. In recent years, programs like The Sopranos and Seinfeld ended in ways that frustrated and enraged fans. They wanted more, and the producers chose to get “cute.” In business, when you deliver you have to do so in a way that appreciates your customers and honors their expectations.

#4 – Set ups should create conversation

Some shows just demand spin-offs. Secondary characters that deserve more of the spotlight and universes in which many different stories could be told are excellent opportunities for spin-offs.. The same could be said for products or services. Some are one-offs. They do “this” and that’s it. But if your product or service has an alternative, better use, the time to start developing that is when your current application is still popular. Don’t wait until the “show’s over” to start thinking about where to go next. If you plan ahead, you can begin to acclimate your customers to the new “character” well before your current offering jumps the shark.

Any time something ends there are several dynamics in play. There’s a reason commencement means both “beginning” and “end.” That being said, all shows – like all products and services – have an optimum life cycle. The end of said cycle does not mean the end of the company, or even the product or service. Only that the time for change has come. Understanding these dynamics and applying relevant PR techniques can help a business reach the next level. Miss these, and you may end up being the “once great” that got left behind.


Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."

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