5 PR lessons from Game of Thrones

Article first published at Fresh Business Thinking

Need I remind you that ‘winter is coming’? These words of warning and constant vigilance are the motto of House Stark, one of the Great Houses of Westeros in the hit TV show Game of Thrones,. Those of us who have followed GOT over the past five years know that winter has taken on a whole new meaning. In the public relations world, winter can refer to pain and crisis if you’re not careful in managing your brand.

Those of us in the digital marketing world will appreciate the following five PR lessons from Game of Thrones. These lessons will ensure that you are prepared for when the White Walkers come to destroy everything.

  1. Speak to your audience

Image: HBO
Image: HBO

“I speak only to you,” Daenerys Targaryen told the slaves of Meereen as she sought to overthrow the slave masters. Daenerys won over the hearts and minds of a silent, oppressed majority that believed it was powerless. It cost her nothing in return.

This sort of win-win strategy is only possible when you speak to your audience. As you develop your digital marketing campaign, ensure that you are reaching out to your target audience – the people who are most likely to consume your products and services. By winning over their hearts and minds, half the battle (and cost) of public relations is already over.

  1. Consistency is key

Game of Thones - Tyrion

Despite their incestuous ways, the Lannisters enjoyed a great deal of respect throughout the Seven Kingdoms because ‘a Lannister always pays his debts’. Had they not, do you really think the Iron Bank of Braavos would finance the Lannisters in King’s Landing? Not a chance. The Lannisters may be incestuous, but they are consistent.

PR is utterly useless without a clear outreach strategy that gets your message across consistently. Your plan should include daily/weekly/monthly outreach strategies via multiple communications channels. You won’t be able to build your brand effectively any other way.

  1. Quality trumps quantity

Image: HBO
Image: HBO

Yes, I told you to be consistent in #2, but that doesn’t mean bombarding your social media channels with dozens of updates every day. Why do you think Game of Thrones can go off the air for 10 months and still be the talk of the town? The Red Wedding was three years ago and people are still talking about it! When you deliver quality, it resonates with the market. Ultimately, your PR campaign should be based on a solid product, service or idea. Building an innovative marketing strategy that highlights these advantages will ensure that your brand and its messaging never die.

  1. You know nothing, Jon Snow

Image: HBO
Image: HBO

While you may know that winter is coming, you can never be fully prepared for how severe it will be or when exactly it’ll make its way over The Wall. In the event of a PR crisis, you need to respond intelligently and as quickly as possible. No need to panic, though. Sit down with your IT, marketing and communications team to identify exactly what went wrong and what the general public believes happened. Get your narrative straight and be ready for a lot of negative backlash early on. Answer the following questions:

  • What do the media and public believe happened?
  • What really happened?
  • Which communication streams are in need of your immediate attention?
  • How will you formulate your response?
  1. Be like Jon Snow

Image: HBO
Image: HBO

Okay, maybe not entirely like Jon Snow – otherwise your staff might turn on you, and that young apprentice you took under your wing a few months ago will STAB YOU IN THE STOMACH ‘for the company’. *Wipes tears away*. Sorry, it still hurts!

Jon Snow may not know much, but he doesn’t have to in order to be ready for anything. Not many people in the Seven Kingdoms are as crisis-ready as Jon Snow, who not only forged a seemingly impossible alliance with the Free Folk, but defended Castle Black in epic fashion, not to mention killed a White Walker.

Jon Snow teaches us to always be prepared and to think outside the box. Convention is OK when we’re doing accounting, but not in the dynamic world of PR. Remember, in the PR world, nothing is impossible. There’s no limit as to how far your brand can grow. You just need a heart of a Snow and a deep desire to do good. Learn from Jon Snow!

By Charli Day, writer and content manager