!!Spoiler Alert: This piece contains details of the series plot!!

Many of those working in the PR sector will be quick to tell you that the industry’s portrayal of the PR in the popular series “Emily in Paris” is depicted with a fair helping of creative licence.

While the Netflix original has taken global audiences by storm, Emily’s professional life at a marketing firm in Paris is portrayed in a glamorous and exciting light that is, for the most part, unrealistic. The fancy on-screen events and elite lifestyles fail to capture the overall real-world experience of PR life. Our Muse edition revisits the realities of working at a communication agency in contrast to Emily’s journey in Paris.

PR is not always done opportunistically

Emily’s initiatives are often shown to benefit her clients and agency, as seen when she facilitates business cooperation between the hotel chain owner Randy Zimmer and perfume proprietor Antoine Lambert. She also manages to pull off publicity stunts for Pierre Cadault’s appearance at Fashion Week without breaking a sweat. However, such feats are rarely achieved through rubbing elbows with the elite by chance.

Emily approaches Randy at a gallery after getting acquainted with Camille earlier, while her success at Fashion Week happens after she establishes intimacy with Pierre’s nephew.

In comparison, most PR pros don’t usually enjoy such overly favourable scenarios or acquaintances, and success does not depend on chance or intimacy. Instead, successful communication activations come with professional know-how, nuanced work and good team coordination.

Brand collaborations take more than a handshake

Brand collaboration aims to create a win-win situation. Bringing these situations to fulfilment is a time-consuming and demanding task; PR pros must understand two brands thoroughly and figure out how they can complement each other or enjoy the same level of public buzz and profitability if their partnership is to be realised. It certainly takes more than handshaking and stating that Antoine’s perfumes are the right “baked cookies” for Randy’s hotels.

Strategic communication planning is not usually finalised in one short meeting

Before implementing a campaign, PR pros must face clients’ challenging inquiries regarding feasibility and rationale and make various tweaks per clients’ feedback on their proposals. Due to clients’ limited time and different requirements, the strategic discussion isn’t typically finalised in one brief meeting.

Regardless, “Emily in Paris” often portrays perfunctory meetings between Emily’s agency and its luxury accounts, during which proposed strategies made by the protagonist are usually received with immediate approval. The reality is no client would be willing to spend their communication budget without posing any feedback or questions regarding KPIs, necessary expenses or detailed execution.

It is not easy to pull off successful communication campaigns without sufficient cultural understanding or research

Behind all successful communication initiatives are hours of comprehensive study, due diligence and intensive internal brainstorming sessions. Consideration of unexpected obstacles and rigorous preparation is required to ensure optimal results. However, Emily In Paris omits these essential, albeit less glamorous backstage pieces from its industry depiction.

Surprisingly, despite her ignorance of French culture and working style, Emily still performs well without conducting any local research. This contradicts the globally well-established practice before recommending any communication strategy: understanding one’s audience.

A simplistic slant on the world of influencers

The Emilyinparis Instagram account marks Emily’s starting point in the world’s most romantic city. She gradually gains an audience by uploading her daily experience, which later makes her a micro-influencer, thus creating lots of opportunities for herself and her agency.

While the series portrays an encouraging journey of Emily as a marketing executive and up-and-coming influencer, it adopts a rather simplistic take on being an influencer. For instance, there is no information on who follows Emily and how the audience engages with her, showing only one-way communication from Emily.

It is also far-fetched that one of Emily’s first few social media posts reaches the French first lady, who later shares it on her Twitter, without the use of hashtags that might – in the far realms of possibility – make such a thing possible. The portrayal of her almost immediate, meteoric influence is rather implausible.

That said, life in PR is not all hard graft and no glamour; while this Netflix original does manage to capture the excitement of working in the communication industry, such portrayals come over as superficial and perpetuate the impression of PR being over-reliant on (intimate) relationships.