8 PR lessons from ‘Game of Thrones’

Through the ‘Game of PR’ is less bloody than the popular TV series, the battles communicators wage are no less fierce. Here’s what you can glean from the show’s characters.


This article was originally published on PR Daily in June 2016.

Are you still feeling the adrenaline rush from the last “Game of Thrones” episode?

You might breathe again after the epic ending of Battle of the Bastards, but remain on the edge of your seat awaiting the next episode.

The popular television series—based on best-selling novels by 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 and passion—they are also wise in the ways of public relations.

Here are eight public relations tips—as told by the show’s characters:

1. “Winter is coming.”—Eddard Stark

Perhaps one of the most famous lines of the series, “Winter is coming” is repeated several times throughout each season.

The phrase represents not only a change in weather, but also 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 for when catastrophe is afoot.

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

As “Game of Thrones” has developed, viewers saw 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.

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

You must have the right tools for the right job. If a PR professional is to keep learning about their profession, they have to have 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 a key element to successful campaigns. As Jaime says, there is only one of him (and you).

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 pros, we must develop relationships with journalists rather than simply relying on them to help us when we want them to. When you foster a working relationship, you will have a better chance at creating a win-win scenario in which both parties are helping to fulfil each others’ goals.

Don’t solely work together “when it suits you;” work on establishing a partnership.

6. “Hold the door.”—Hodor

Hodor will forever stay in our hearts as the holder of the door, but 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 pro is to help a reporter get the scoop on whatever story you’re pitching him or her.

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 might not have a billion titles after your name, but you are important. You’re also a crucial source for many journalists.

Exude Daenerys’ confidence. Your client is newsworthy and you have to relay that to a journalist—but be careful not to be overly confident and overbearing. Find a 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 percent of the time. That’s okay. In the “Game of PR,” your story either succeeds or it dies.

The important takeaway is discovering what works and what doesn’t, so that you can learn from your downfalls and succeed down the road.

PR is not all bloody battles and race to the top like “Game of Thrones,” but there is a lot we can learn from the show’s characters.

In the “Game of PR,” there are no winners and losers, but an ever-changing media landscape and new concepts to learn. Play the game well—and tune in to the season finale to glean some tips of your own.

Alli Williams is a PR coordinator for Amplify Relations. A version of this article originally appeared on the firm’s blog.

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