The Devil Wears Prada: Lessons from Miranda Priestly

By Darian Mavandad
June 30, 2022
4 min read
Still from The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda seated at her desk, and Andy across from her.

Today marks 16 years since the cinematic release of the film The Devil Wears Prada. When first released, and in the book of the same name, the clear antagonist was Prada-clad Editor-in-Chief, Miranda Priestly. But as time went on, more and more analyses and video essays started to argue that Miranda Priestly was not the antagonist after all (in the movie, that is. If you’ve read the novel, Miranda was downright sadistic. They really mellowed her out in the movie, believe it or not). In fact, there is a growing movement of analyses praising Miranda’s work-ethic, and even her management style.

While far from perfect, and arguably, as it approaches two decades old, outdated, there are many themes of corporate culture displayed between the glitz and the glamour of the high fashion world that are good lessons for anyone currently in the workforce. And especially for those of us who are responsible for our organizations’ internal communications. Let’s take a look at a few key things internal communicators can learn from Miranda Priestly.

1. Listen to your employees

“You may never ask Miranda anything,” according to Emily Charlton, Miranda’s snotty British assistant. And while unbridled loyalty may be every internal communicator’s dream that’s not effective in building a culture where employees trust your communications, and by extension, trust that their voices will also be heard by the company. No one wants to feel like they have no say in what’s going on around them, so find ways to incorporate feedback into your internal messaging. Maybe that means occasional polls asking employees if your comms is resonating with them, maybe that means leaving a feedback box in your Push messages, or maybe even it’s as simple as measuring intranet utilization. However you chose to listen to your employees, it’s important to take your findings and put them into practice, and constantly hone and adjust your internal comms strategy so that is as engaging as possible.

2. Do your research

Miranda Priestly at her desk

“No, we did that 2 years ago, what else”. The boardroom scene in the film serves as one of the only times we get to see Miranda Priestly in the context of her work and not in interactions with Andy. And while it doesn’t necessarily serve to move the plot forwards, it does provide important insight into how and why Miranda is the way she is. She is extremely good at her job. Period. We’re not saying that that is an excuse for her attitude, but it is an explanation. She knows the organization in and out, from what was on the back of a magazine issue 2 years ago, to what kind of pieces will resonate with the high fashion magazine’s readers.

When crafting your internal comms strategy, it’s also your job to know your channels, calendars, and messaging inside and out. What’s worked historically? What channels best serve what communications? Knowing all of this can be daunting, but that’s why we’re here. We have a plethora of free resources, tools, and templates that will streamline your workflows. Performing a channel audit is easy as pie with IC’s template, and so is building an internal comms calendar.

3. Follow the trends

Miranda Priestly, obviously, knows the trends of her industry. She knows exactly what styles are appropriate and appreciated by her magazine’s readers, and which trends to hop on before everyone else. In the world of internal comms, trends exist as well. Sure, they may not be as soft as a pashmina, but it’s still important that your best practices, approach, and importantly, software is up to date and adaptable to what’s going on right now.

In our modern world, hybrid and remote work are more common-place than ever, and with Gen-Z entering the workforce, Push messaging has become a reliable and efficient way for organizations to connect with their employees. Using software that integrates push and pull communications is paramount, and at IC, we understand that—so stay tuned to some exciting announcements about our software coming later this summer.

4. Highlight hard work

The boardroom scene in The Devil Wears Prada, still from the movie.

Back to that boardroom scene that was discussed in point 2, Miranda also—at first, seemingly uncharacteristically—rewards her employee for a job well done when he pitches the perfect idea. Your internal comms shouldn’t just be centered around crisis communications and letting employees know about what has gone wrong, it should also be a channel to celebrate departmental and collective wins. Individual wins are collective wins, and everyone deserves to be recognized for a job well done, so make celebrating wins part of your campaigns! Not only does it show you appreciate your employees, but also boosts morale, leading to lower turnover and higher rates of work satisfaction.

The Devil’s in the details

Want to truly become the Miranda of the internal comms world? Book a free demo with our sales team and learn how IC can help take you to the next level!

By Darian Mavandad

Darian has a degree from McGill University, and joined IC to empower internal communicators by creating content that inspires. In his free time, he loves traveling, reading, and skiing.