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What Parks and Recreation Teaches Us About Content Marketing

by | Jan 15, 2015 | Content Marketing | 1 comment


As we’ve established before, the Grammar Chic team is all about pop culture—and there are few cultural touchstones we’re more passionate about than Parks and Recreation. The long-running NBC sitcom kicked off its seventh and final season last night, a victory lap for a show that’s uniquely beloved by audiences—so now is as good a time as any to reflect on what the show can teach us about content marketing.

Know Hope

Parks and Recreation is set in the world of small-town, local government, following the daily adventures of Pawnee, Indiana’s Parks and Recreation Department. It’s a show about politics, on some level, but you won’t find much in the way of Veep or House of Cards-style cynicism here. Like The West Wing before it, this is a show with a fundamentally optimistic view of government. Amy Poehler’s character, Leslie Knope, believes that government can and must work, and that it might even make people’s lives better.

That’s the attitude you have to have as you develop content. Cynicism and doubt will cause you to half-ass it. You have to really commit to the notion that, though it won’t always be easy and you may make some missteps, content marketing can ultimately work. It can enhance your business, and it can even make a difference in people’s lives, if only by entertaining and informing them. If you don’t actually believe these things, then what’s the point of doing content marketing at all?

It Takes a Village

Part of the show’s optimism stems from the fact that, unlike so many sitcoms, it doesn’t derive its humor from how hapless its characters are (except for Jerry), nor from how miserable they are at work (except for April and maybe Tom). By and large, it’s a show about people who enjoy one another’s company, and who like working together—whether they’d ever admit to it or not. And Leslie Knope is the exact opposite of, say, Homer Simpson or Michael Scott: She is great at what she does, and inspires confidence in her team.

Parks and Rec’s team approach is something small business owners can learn from. For content marketing to work, you need full team buy-in. You need everyone to pitch in ideas, to help share and distribute content, and ultimately to understand what makes content marketing so important.

Your Work Won’t Always Love You Back

Finally, one of the darker undercurrents in the show is that Leslie constantly works her butt off for the people of Pawnee, and they tend to respond with either indifference or, in some cases, flat-out ingratitude. She struggles, sometimes, with how much Pawnee seems to hate her, despite her great love for the town.

Sadly, this is an experience you may sometimes have in content marketing. Not every piece of content is going to engage people the way you want it to. Sometimes, you may get frustrated—and that’s natural. However, you can’t let that seep into the work. You can’t throw in the towel or start writing with a cynical edge. Be like Leslie Knope: Keep working hard even on the days when it feels like it’s not fully appreciated.

And don’t be afraid to ask for help. The Grammar Chic, Inc. team can offer it. Contact us at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.