Game of PR: What “Game of Thrones” Can Teach You About Public Relations

by | Jul 6, 2016 | Public Relations, Television

Are you still staring wide-eyed at your TV in wonder from the Season 6 finale of Game of Thrones? There’s no denying that this season was one of the greatest we’ve seen, and the last episode was on fire (or should I say, wildfire?)

The popular television series, based on best-selling novels by author George R. R. Martin, tells the story of different individuals and their quest to take the Iron Throne. What you might not realize is that the characters in the show are not only proficient in gory battle tactics, deception, passion and regime, they are also wise in the ways of public relations.

While some great secrets were revealed in the season finale, we are still left with unanswered questions as we head into the 10-month period of Throne-less Sundays. In honor of the conclusion of another amazing season, here are 8 public relations tips as told by the characters of Game of Thrones.

1. “Winter is coming” – Eddard Stark

Maybe one of the most famous lines of the series, ‘Winter is coming’ is repeated several times throughout each season and represents not only a change in weather but an imminent doom to come. This concept directly relates to crisis management. Not all crises in PR are forthcoming; but when you can predict the possibility of a crisis, you can better prepare yourself for when catastrophe is afoot.

2. “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” – Ygritte the Wildling

As the series has developed, we have seen the character Jon Snow grow into a humble, caring leader and great warrior. There was a time, however, when Snow knew nothing. He was always willing to learn, and just like the Game of PR, professionals should always be accepting of changes in the industry and be willing to learn all the time, especially when it seems as though you know nothing.

3. “A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.” – Tyrion Lannister

You need to have the right tools for the right job. If a PR professional is to keep learning about their profession, they will need the right tools at their disposal in order to keep their edge. Educational resources like PRSA, Ragan and Cision are always offering articles, webinars and conferences for PR professionals to continue to learn and succeed in the industry.

4. “There are no men like me, only me!” – Jaime Lannister

Original content is key. As Jaime says, there is only one Jaime Lannister. Find your and your client’s uniqueness in your market, whether big or small, and you will find your edge to creating interesting, one-of-a-kind content.

5. “People work together, when it suits them. They’re loyal, when it suits them. They love each other, when it suits them. And they kill each other, when it suits them.” – Orell the Wildling

The Game of PR is a give-and-take industry, not a give-me-what-I-want industry. As PR people, we must develop relationships with journalists rather than simply relying on them to help us when we need them to. When you foster a working relationship together, you will have a better chance at creating a win-win scenario in which both parties are helping to fulfill each others’ goals. Don’t solely work together “when it suits you;” work on establishing a partnership.

6. “Hold the door.” – Hodor

While Hodor will forever stay in our hearts as the holder of the door, his deed can teach us a lot about what it means to be a support system. Keeping in mind the give-and-take relationship, remember that your job as a PR professional is to help a reporter get the scoop on whatever story you’re pitching them. Your job doesn’t end after you send an email; you must follow up and check that they have all the information necessary. You stand in the doorway between a journalist and your client, and you must hold the door for each to see your pitch successfully published.

7. “I am Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons.” – Daenerys Stormborn

You may not have a billion titles after your name, but you are important, and you’re a vital source for many journalists. Exude that confidence that Dany has when she gives her full title; your client is newsworthy, and you have to relay that to a journalist—but be careful not to be overly confident and overbearing. Find the happy medium.

8. “When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die.” – Cersei Lannister

Know that your pitch will not be picked up 100% of the time. That’s okay! In the Game of PR, your story either succeeds or it dies. The important take-away is to discover what works and what doesn’t so that you can learn from your downfalls and continue on to succeed down the road.

Bonus Tip (warning: spoiler alert!)

In the Season 6 finale, we discover the true parentage of Jon Snow; a question that has been hinted at throughout the entire season. The buildup to the reveal of his mother shows viewers that while Snow is still a Stark, he is not actually Ned’s child and likely has royal Targaryen blood. This is a major story line that could have a significant impact on the newly declared King of the North.

Learning how to communicate a great story is an important part of public relations. The writers of the show let this plot line linger during Season 6, and although this story is not complete, they told it in a captivating way that paid off for the viewer in the end. Storytelling is a crucial part of a public relations campaign, and telling a story in a way that will pique your audience’s interest will lead to a successful campaign.

While PR is not all bloody battles and race to the top like Game of Thrones, there is a lot we can learn from the characters themselves. In the Game of PR, there are no winners and losers, but an ever-changing media landscape and new concepts to learn. Be sure to always play the game well; and as you patiently await the arrival of Season 7, brush up on past seasons to glean some tips of your own.

Guest writer Alli Williams is PR Coordinator at Amplify Relations.

Alli Williams
Alli Williams is the PR Manager at Amplify Relations, a full service advertising, public relations and government affairs agency.


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