From an educational institution I recently received a major assignment. I am to weave in allusions to pop culture into the lesson plans for both on-your-feet in the classroom and online. The learning group is adults so I am in my comfort zone. Yes, I will include "Downton Abbey."
Had the segment been middle-schoolers, no way could I have stepped up to the plate. Duh. I am clueless about YA fiction, music, and vampire films/television.
That's the obstacle in leveraging pop culture in communications: Coming across not hot to the audience. The issue is not whether or not leaders should incorporate it.
Actually the line between statesmanlike and lower-brow blurred forever when Presidential candidate Bill Clinton played his sax on late-night talk shows. The line blew into a million pieces when former U.S. Senator Bob Dole went on the small screen hawking a remedy for erectile dysfunction. And, if Hillary Clinton runs for the presidency we can anticipate she will host "SNL."
In public speaking, references audiences don't get are obvious. Painfully so. Therefore, we have to check with the sponsor of the event if the allusions we plan to use will be recognized, never mind resonate.
There is, for example, a whole different mindset in different sections of the country. Now that I am in the Southwest I have to observe what bits of pop culture people relate to. Lots of that is what they view on Netflix. Back along the Northeast Corridor the reference points were associated with television.