The Realities of ABC's "Scandal"
Each week, millions of viewers watch ABC’s “Scandal,” a television series that is inspired by the real-life experiences of crisis communications expert Judy Smith. The protagonist of “Scandal” is Olivia Pope (portrayed by Kerry Washington). Pope helps her clients avoid scandal and maintain (and sometimes rebuild) their pristine public perception, but does “Scandal” represent reality?
In a recent article, Rebecca Nuttall of the New Pittsburgh Courier profiled our friend Warner Macklin of Castle Strategies, a crisis communications and consulting firm, about the realities of the primetime television show. Well, it turns out “Scandal” is right on point.
“I do what [Olivia Pope] does,” Macklin said. “It is accurate. It’s a TV show so you have to throw a little action in there, but as a crisis manager you get the outrageous to the mundane. In some cases people’s lives are on the line or someone might go to jail.”
In true Olivia Pope style, Macklin wouldn’t reveal any former clients or even a crisis he helped a client work through in the past. He said sharing any information about a client goes against everything a crisis manager stands for.
“The best crisis managers can take care of an issue before it becomes public knowledge and that’s essentially what your clients are paying you for, to minimize exposure. That’s what we’re hired to do,” Macklin said. “Most crisis managers go every day without being noticed and those are the best ones.”