5 PR lessons from ‘Game of Thrones’

As the final season of the hit HBO series arrives, communicators have plenty of plot twists and salient quotes to mull. Here are applicable PR truisms from the fantasy world of Westeros.

Game of Thrones PR lessons

Winter is not coming; winter is almost over, and with spring, the last season premiere of “Game of Thrones” is just around the corner.

Based on the best-selling novels by George R. R. Martin, “Game of Thrones” tells the story of powerful families playing a deadly game in the hopes of taking control of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. The characters are not only proficient in war strategy, deception and tactics to appease the Lord of Light—they also share many lessons that can relate back to PR.

As this epic series comes to an end, here are five quotes that PR pros should keep in mind to help them survive whatever battles lie ahead:

1. “Winter is coming.” – Ned Stark

The lesson behind this motto of House Stark is a reminder to stay vigilant and plan ahead, as winters in the world of Westeros can last years.

In the PR world, it’s always important to have a plan in place, whether it’s an overarching PR plan to help strategically meet your client’s goals, or a crisis plan to put in action when you need it. Thinking about your plans during calmer times will help you come up with the best approach and will prepare you for what is coming so that you’re able to adapt and pivot as needed.

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2. “We need to send ravens.” – Bran Stark

In the kingdom of Westeros, there are no emails or phones. The only means of long-distance communication are birds that fly with a scroll attached to their leg, which isn’t always reliable.

Luckily, in our world we have it much easier. However, when times are busy, many may opt to send a blanket pitch to all their contacts in the hopes that someone bites. In an age where our industry is changing rapidly, so it’s more important than ever to take advantage of modern technology to send customized, targeted and relevant pitches to our media contacts.

If you feel that your messages aren’t being received (raven caught in a wind current, perhaps?) look for other, outside-the-box ways to reach reporters (as an example, I just learned a contact of mine prefers to be pitched via Viber or WhatsApp).

3. “The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.” – Sansa Stark

We all know that the world of PR can be incredibly stressful at times, so it’s important to be surrounded by a strong support system. Whether in a group brainstorm, pitching session or by providing general advice, PR pros are stronger together than alone.

4. “Valar Dohaeris” (All men must serve.) – Arya Stark

One of the focal points of the last season will be the war with the White Walkers, which has been a long time coming for viewers. However, when the Night’s Watch sent messages to warn the other kingdoms and ask for assistance, the warning fell on deaf ears.

For PR pros, it’s crucial to take both advice and concerns seriously. When it comes to putting a crisis PR plan in place, you must listen to your clients closely and acknowledge their concerns. It’s also important to make sure the designated crisis team knows that plan, their specific role in executing it, and when to implement the plan.

5. The mind needs books like the sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.” – Tyrion Lannister

When traveling to Castle Black, Jon Snow asks his travel companion Tyrion Lannister why he reads so much. Tyrion’s response is that others of larger stature often rely on their strength and fighting acumen to survive, but his weapon is his mind.

A large part of the PR job is being cognizant of trends and PR pros must constantly stay sharp by staying on top of the news. Additionally, if we’re going to continue learning about our rapidly changing profession, it will be important to have the right tools at our disposal.

Have any other “Game of Thrones” moments taught you a lesson about PR? If so, share with us in the comments section below.

Taylor Gallagher is a senior account manager for Shift Communications. A version of this article originally appeared on the Shift Communications blog.

Topics: PR

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