PR Lessons from “Game of Thrones”

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Image Credit: HBO

While not all GFMers watch “Game of Thrones,” there are a number of us who are huge fans. We like to share articles about predictions for upcoming episodes and then rehash all of the action from the previous night’s episode on Monday morning. So when Ragan’s PR Daily put out an article today entitled “8 PR lessons from ‘Game of Thrones,’” I couldn’t help myself – I had to click on it. Their 8 tips were based on quotes by various characters from the show. See below for my take on each:

  1. “Winter is coming.”—Eddard Stark

The article’s author related this quote to crisis management and how preparing for a forthcoming crisis can significantly ease the pain of weathering the storm. To that, I would add a reminder of the importance of having well thought-out crisis plans and reviewing/updating them regularly so that they they are not out-of-date when the inevitable crisis hits. Rehearsing is also key – teams who have been through multiple crisis drills are infinitely better prepared to deal with the real thing.

  1. “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”—Ygritte the Wildling

Here the author references the importance of always being ready and willing to learn, especially in the rapidly changing industry that is PR. Whether it’s through attending conferences, reading books and articles, or participating in webinars, staying up on the latest trends in the industry is crucial. At GFM, we place a high value on learning from our peers. One of the most valuable things we do is called our “GFM Needs to Know” series. Once a month, we either bring in an outside expert – or have a colleague who’s recently attended a conference, training, etc. – and have them share their learnings and expertise with us. I walk out feeling smarter and better informed every time.

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

This quote also gets to the importance of continuing your PR education. The author provides a list of tools, to which I would add organizations specific to marketing within your clients’ industries (one we’re very involved with at GFM is the Colorado Healthcare Communicators). The proofreader in me also has to add staying abreast of the latest AP Style updates. They just released a whole host of new ones.

  1. “There are no men like me, only me!”—Jaime Lannister

Here the author refers to the importance of compelling content – of finding what makes your client unique and clearly communicating those differentiating factors. I agree completely and would further expand on that by suggesting that those differentiators can come from all aspects of your client’s business – be it their product or service offerings or the story behind how their business came to be, their dedication to giving back to the community, their wonderfully unique employees – the list of possibilities goes on and on. You just sometimes need to dig a little/look beyond the surface.

  1. “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

In this instance, the article’s author speaks to the importance of building relationships with journalists – not just calling on them when you need them. That is so true, and so important – but I would expand that to include your vendors, partner agencies, co-workers and clients as well. At GFM, we strive to develop real relationships and true partnerships – that go beyond just “what you can do for me” and instead lead to true collaboration, trust and camaraderie.

  1. “Hold the door.”—Hodor

Here again, the author talks about the importance of follow-through when working with journalists, not just securing an interviewing and moving on. This follow-through is key not only to securing the best possible coverage for your client in terms of inclusion of key messages, etc., but it is also invaluable in building those above-referenced relationships. And again, I would argue that while it’s undoubtedly important with journalists, it’s important regardless of whom you’re working with.

  1. “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

Confidence is key, as the author states in her article. Confidence when pitching your client’s story to a reporter – along with confidence in pitching new business, presenting plans to client executive teams, and providing strategic counsel, particularly in unique or challenging scenarios. Exuding a quiet confidence will help journalists, current clients and prospective clients – not to mention your colleagues – have confidence in you.

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

Here the author points to the fact that not all pitches result in coverage. A frustrating fact of PR to say the least, especially when a client is extremely eager to see coverage and see it fast. And while part of that is just a result of the changing media landscape, it’s also important to find lessons from every pitch that “dies.” Could the angle have been tweaked a bit, could you have found a larger trend to latch onto, or could the story be best suited for another channel, e.g., social media, paid content, etc.?

Who knew the “Game of Thrones” world could provide so much PR insight? By the time this blog post is up on Monday, we’ll be eagerly dishing on the season finale!


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