Few TV shows have as much cultural influence as “Game of Thrones” on HBO. Through the course of six seasons, millions of people have plugged into the captivating, hour-long show. Beyond entertainment, “Game of Thrones” teaches fans important professional lessons. Below I’ve identified a few helpful takeaways for public relations professionals.
Honor your commitments
The “Red Wedding” is a result of what happens when you aren’t forthright with your intentions and disregard your contractual agreements. Rob Stark had agreed to marry but withdrew from his negotiated arrangement. Not only did he disappoint many, but he paid the ultimate price with his life. What can we learn from this? Never over-promise and under deliver. Whether you’re dealing with customers or co-workers, manage expectations by committing to what’s realistic. Otherwise, you run the risk of tarnishing your credibility.
Use empathy to mobilize your target audience
Nobody motivates a hostile audience better than the show’s most prominent conqueror, Daenerys Targaryen. She’s turned her enemies into her champions with very few sentences. Her public speeches are always poignant, concise and tap deep into the human spirit. Similarly, effective public relations professionals use adversity as opportunity to shift perception. Well-crafted messages have the power to turn naysayers into believers. People will not care unless they know how much you care.
Anticipate your challenges and plan accordingly
A measure of a strong public relations practice is one that anticipates crisis. Sansa Stark understood this better than anyone when she reached for help in the pivotal “Battle of the Bastards.” Sansa became the season’s hero because she realized the eminent threat of the Bolton army and was humble enough to ask for help. Had she not asked for help, her army would’ve been crushed. Public relations professionals understand preparation is the best defense. Developing an emergency action plan for when crisis hits is the key to surviving the storm.
Cut the cord if you need to
Arya Stark spent much of her time training to be a part of a secret group of highly trained assassins. Initially, it seemed like a great idea, but after realizing she wasn’t mentally equipped for the ruthless job, she cut her ties and ran to the next opportunity. If you find yourself in a situation that doesn’t honor the integrity of your personal ethics, it’s OK to change course. You have the final say in your career.
Game of Thrones is not only entertaining, but also offers lessons that could help make you a better public relations practitioner.
Becca Cooper is a junior public relations major at Wayne State University. She is the current president of Wayne State University’s PRSSA Chapter and a relationship marketing intern for Quicken Loans in Detroit, Michigan. You can connect with Becca on Twitter @Beccacoop.