PR Planning Tips from Game of Thrones

by Belfort Group | Consumer , Corporate , Higher Education , Nonprofit , Public Affairs , Thought Leadership
July 21, 2017

(Warning: SPOILERS are coming!)

Whether it’s a bid to capture the Iron Throne or getting a client campaign off the ground, strategic planning and a roadmap to success is a must.

Winging it is not advisable because your success will be cut short – just like Theon Greyjoy.

The first episode of Game of Thrones’ seventh season was panned as “slow” and “boring” by some, but those paying careful attention likely saw wheels in motion, courses charted, and tables being set. While that may be boring compared to a face-swapping Stark single-handedly wiping out the Frey bloodline in one fell swoop, it’s also crucial. Because without a foundation and a solid strategy, all houses and attempts at victory will likely crumble.

Daenerys and Cersei Get on the Map

This one is a little on the nose, but two of the boss women from Game of Thrones were all about maps in the latest episode. Cersei had a map of Westeros painted on the floor while discussing enemy positions and strategy with her brother/forbidden paramour, Jaime. Meanwhile, Daenerys has landed on Dragonstone and her first order of business was to head straight to the map room where her Targaryen ancestors once plotted their fiery vengeance and Stannis and Melisandre birthed a murderous shadow child. She utters “Shall we begin?” as she and Tyrion conjure up a plan to rule Westeros. The point of all this?

PR LESSON: Before action must come planning and due diligence – a notion that holds true for almost every endeavor.

Sam Jumps on Board the Research Train

A huge part of strategic planning is research, and no one researches like Sam Tarly. Look, research can be messy and unpleasant. Sam’s “training” as a maester, which involves making sure decrepit maesters have food coming in and then cleaning up when the food comes out, was repetitive and even gag-worthy at times. But he hangs in there and manages to find some important information as to the potential whereabouts of dragon glass – the material used to slay the White Walkers.

PR LESSON: While research might be the least enjoyable and exciting part of the process, it’s also the part where you get the vital information you need to carry out a successful campaign.

The Split Iron Islands Rediscovers Its Strength

When Balon Greyjoy declared himself King of the Iron Islands and effectively waged war on Robert Baratheon, he was fighting an unwinnable battle. That rebellion was short-lived and his tiny forces were crushed. But the next generation appears to have learned from his mistake, with Yara and Theon providing boats to Daenerys and Euron Greyjoy offering ships and sailors (and himself) to Cersei. But despite being on different sides, Yara and Euron are both playing to their strengths by returning to the sea where they are known as vicious reavers to be feared, as opposed to thinking they can win any kind of land war on their own.

PR LESSON: Play in the right sandboxes. Find the areas where you can be most effective and excel there.

Jon Snow Knows Something, After All

Despite many claims to the contrary, it appears the new King of the North knows a little something about getting buy-in from evangelists before starting any campaign. Without ambassadors like the amazing Lyanna Mormont, who convinced Lord Glover and other prominent northern houses to back him, Jon Snow’s legitimacy would be dead. Like, completely dead. Not Jon-Snow-is-gone-but-now-he’s-not, dead.

PR LESSON: Identifying internal stakeholders and brand ambassadors who make up your base is crucial when trying to launch any campaign.

Identify Visionaries & Embrace Ideas from Unexpected Places

Viewers have known for a long time about Brandon Stark and how he’s the Three-Eyed Raven, so it was no surprise when he started time-traveling and putting together missing pieces by attaching himself to tree roots. But what was surprising about this episode was how The Hound is now a visionary. Sandor Clegane, the behemoth of a man who kills without a second thought and fears fire after he was burned as a child, is able to see visions in the flames courtesy of the Lord of Light. Now his value has gone from muscle to soothsayer – and it’s among the more unexpected developments in the series.

PR LESSON: Remember that great ideas can come from every level of an organization, and true visionaries are essential to keep goals and the bigger picture in mind.

Let us all continue to be entertained by Game of Thrones, but don’t forget to look for the life, business, and leadership lessons sprinkled liberally throughout the realm. And never stop looking for Arya Stark. Seriously. She could be anywhere and anyone.

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