What can PR pros learn from Game of Thrones?
There are a few lessons the world of Public Relations can learn from Game of Thrones. PR in practice is an integral part of any organisation’s communications strategy and executed correctly, can significantly contribute to an organisation’s goals, targets and importantly, demonstrate ROI.
But a lack of planning and imagination can quickly leave any PR campaign falling short of success. A successful PR campaign needs to be proactive, reactive, topical, and most importantly, aligned to the organisation’s messaging, plans and strategy.
So what can our favourite characters from the Seven Kingdoms teach us about PR?
1. Winter is coming
It’s a phrase any Game of Thrones fan will be well-accustomed to, but really, it’s something that many PR pros can learn from, too. The phrase tells us to be prepared and to get plans in place BEFORE the worst might happen. So, whilst PR pros might not need to prepare for a generation of winter, they do need to prepare a winning PR strategy, aligned with business goals, messaging and upcoming events.
The world of B2B PR is all about content – whether it’s social media, thought leadership opinions and soundbites, interviews, blogs, whitepapers… it all counts. A mixture of proactive and reactive content is the recipe for success; too much reaction and not enough planned content could leave the strategy uncoordinated and falling short of what it set out to achieve.
As Ned Stark told us in Season One, Episode One, it’s also important to use quieter times to plan for turbulent (or in PR’s case, busy) times; if you know that Q2 will include five events, four webinars, and three new customers to announce, then think ahead and see what could already be strategised ahead of time.
Most importantly – the Stark family motto also teaches us how essential it is to have a crisis comms plan in place. If all of your ships are burned to the ground by Drogon, Rhaegal or Viserion, what will you do? Or if your entire army is captured on the Kingsroad, how will you tell your people? Ok, so these might not be scenarios that PR pros face every day, but if a client’s system has a glitch that impacts thousands of its customers, or a CEO says something they shouldn’t, you need to help your client by preparing a statement, getting the key spokespeople ready and keeping watch of social media. Keep messages consistent and make sure all stakeholders are involved – where necessary – as soon as possible.
2. Be more like Jon Snow
Ah, Jon Snow. Not only is he a delight to watch on TV, he also teaches us a thing or two about thinking outside the box, promoting open communication and making unlikely alliances. (We think Ygritte was completely wrong – Jon Snow doesn’t ‘know nothing’, he knows EVERYTHING!)
I don’t think any GoT fan can forget the episode in Season 7 when Jon Snow boldly told Cersei “I can only serve one queen and that queen is Daenerys Targaryen”. Whilst many proclaimed that Jon clearly doesn’t know how to play the Game of Thrones, Jon’s honesty definitely shows us the importance of open communication – which can be extended to how we work with our clients.
Sometimes, PR pros need to have conversations that clients might not want to hear; no, the latest product announcement won’t make frontpage national news, but it IS definitely something worth sharing on the website, social media and in email newsletters. It might sound like a cliche, but honesty is the best policy and the foundation for any positive, long-lasting client-PR relationship – so we could all be a bit more Jon Snow.
Jon also has the ability to make very unusual alliances work. Who would have predicted that one day he would be soaring through the skies on a dragon, or that he would become besties with Tyrion Lannister? All successful PR campaigns rely on PR pros thinking outside of the box; don’t instantly discard a new idea because it doesn’t look like it will instantly work. Some ideas need a bit of nuturing to get the best out of them – so stick at it, get lots of brains in the room and a good plan of attack can be devised in no time.
3. Gather your army
Gathering a good PR army is essential to get any PR campaign off to the right start. Game of Thrones is all about the people; whether it’s the Dothraki fighting for Daenerys or the Lannister army that backs Cersei, they gather the people that are (mostly) loyal, committed to the cause and that fully represent their leader (or Queen).
A winning PR team needs to have knowledge about the organisation’s specialism – for example healthcare PR, retail PR, financial services PR or cybersecurity and data PR. The team must know the industry (or Seven Kingdoms) inside-out, be well versed on the keywords and terminology used (knowing which buzzwords add value and which are just sentence-fillers) and be able to predict which trends might appear on the horizon that could be useful to future campaign topics.
And, as we learn throughout Game of Thrones – a bigger army doesn’t always make it the best. The team needs to comprise of strong writers, articulate interviewers, multi-taskers and creative thinkers, and collectively, the team needs to embody the client’s tone of voice, language and style, to make the PR campaign work seamlessly alongside the marketing and sales strategy.
Any last words?
With two more episodes left to go, I’m sure the writers will sneak in a few more lessons for us to learn along the way. But, if you decide to watch it all again from the beginning (which I can definitely advocate) then keep an eye out for any other lessons we can apply to the world of PR and tweet us @NeoPRLtd.