magic of belle isle We’re movie watchers here at the agency and lately, I’ve been watching some throwbacks (think: Sliding Doors or Heathers) and the few that I missed last year.

One of those last year films is: The Magic of Belle Isle, a story about friendship, love, miracles and the important things in life. There is great use of imagination and story-telling throughout the film.

There were a few elements that really spoke to me and my work in public relations and business in general. Not just the relationship portion of being good to people, but the following tidbits here:

1) “Never stop looking for what’s not there.” This is the line that Morgan Freeman’s character, Monte Wildhorn says to Emma Fuhrmann’s character, Finnegan O’Neil.

When it comes to pitching story angles, it’s not always easy to find that unique pitch that will grab the media’s attention. There are many times when we’re tasked with making something out of nothing, and we embrace the blue sky, creativity circles when it comes to generating ideas*.


Emma Fuhrmann and Morgan Freeman in THE MAGIC OF BELLE ISLE, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

What’s cool about the “never stop looking for what’s not there” line though is finding “what’s not there” involves looking beyond the surface. My colleagues will tell you, I always encourage digging deeper. We ask a lot of questions and we dig to find that precious gem of a story.

When it comes to fashion PR, some may simply say, “Ta da! It’s a new collection!” What more do you want, right? There’s so much more than what meets the eye. Whether it’s the way the fabric was sourced, special sales promotions, new collaborations, etc. You have to look for what’s not readily seen.

What can you share that’s different? People want to be informed, educated and inspired…how can you and your story do that for a reader/viewer?

*While we’re all for using our imaginations, we do not recommend “making stuff up.” Ever. This is as clear as mud for some and frankly, we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, we’re not fans of “fake til you make it.” We’re more: “let’s make it happen and be a reality” type of people. So go out there and make it a reality!

2) Another line in the film that spoke to me: “I don’t believe in last chances.

Do people make mistakes? Yes. Poor choices? Yes. Missed opportunities? Yes. But does this mean it’s your last chance? Not necessarily. If one keeps messing up at a job, s/he may lose the job, but it doesn’t mean it’s her last chance at doing well at a job.

We have plenty of options, choices and chances. Not everything is beneficial, of course and some things are better left not experienced, but most of us have plenty of options, choices and chances.

This isn’t a call for recklessness though. Like Warren Buffet said, “”It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” So take care of your options, choices and chances, strive to make wise decisions and always do your best.

I’ve heard many business owners (and even publicists, who don’t last long in the industry) just give up on a particular editor, writer or outlet. If an outlet doesn’t pick up your story, it doesn’t mean that it should be their last chance to hear from you or your organization. In the reverse, just because your one pitch was a hit with a variety of outlets, doesn’t mean the same style pitch (or information) will work the second time around. There are just too many circumstances involved – from timing, deadlines, etc. Or let’s say you have a bad press experience, it doesn’t mean all hope is lost on positive press. Note: We recommend an ounce of prevention (or buckets full) when it comes to crises, but if you find yourself in a less than favorable situation, there is hope for recovery.

As long as you keep living, you have a chance. A fighting one. And this holds true for your communications strategy as well.


Morgan Freeman and Virginia Madsen in THE MAGIC OF BELLE ISLE, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

3) And finally, another cool thing that happened in The Magic of Belle Isle, was their unique style of communicating. Through piano playing, words were unspoken, but Monte Wildhorn and Charlotte O’Neil (played by Virginia Madsen) were communicating. They also communicated via a story about an elephant.

Using unique ways of showing and sharing your business story will make your brand stand out. Whether it be through a creative press kit or sending your packages in unique ways. For instance, one of our clients uses vintage, recycled materials in her fashion line and when shipping the garments to purchasers, each piece is wrapped in soft burlap. It speaks to her aesthetic brand and also provides an eco-friendly experience for her clients before they’ve even reached the garment.

If you want to see a sweet movie, watch The Magic of Belle Isle. Tell us how you’ve dug deeper for your business story, experienced a second chance (when you thought it might be your last) or found unique ways of communicating your brand.


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