5 PR Basics, As Explained by Game of Thrones

What do Little Finger, Arya Stark, Tywin Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen and Joffrey Baratheon have in common? They all exemplify a certain trait every PR practitioner and “good” brand should have. While my examples are booze-related, the underlying principles are true for every industry. Keep reading even if you’re not a Game of Thrones fan (although the real question is: Why aren’t you?).

1. Little Finger – Be Strategic

Winter is coming, folks. Only the well-prepared will prevail. When preparing for turbulent times (a bad harvest, a spokesperson gone rogue, etc.), it’s key to have a strategy. It’s ok to change course if the situation warrants, but in order to do so, you need to know your final destination. Most underdogs are also operating on a well thought-out strategy to gain respect and influence in their industry of choice. Little Finger clearly wants to marry a Stark girl and become king– two goals almost impossible without an elaborate plan.

Real Life Example: Virginia Wine wants to compete with the best of the best from Europe and California. A series of vintners is leading the way, backed up by a strong vision from the marketing board.






2.     Daenerys Targaryen – Be Authentic (And Have Dragons)

The mother of dragons is one of the most authentic characters who does not hide her past (that brother of hers – sheesh!) or her ambitions (Westeros, baby!). Being genuine is a rare, thus precious, quality in PR that’s magnetic. Proudly live your values and your fan-base will honor it tenfold.

Real Life Example: Dos Equis’ “most interesting man in the world” keeps the authenticity of the Mexican beer alive.

3. Joffrey Baratheon – Be Humble (Or End Up Dead On Your Wedding Day)

Being king (read: reigning as the industry leader) can make you a royal brat. Don’t mistake the public’s fear of you and your market share with loyalty. As soon as the opportunity arises, consumers and competitors alike will team up and dethrone you. Make it easy for people to like and respect you by being humble, giving back and not talking trash about other players.

Real Life Example: Bacardi focused its last holiday campaign on its humble beginnings.  It’s much more interesting to read about the history of the Bacardi family than seeing yet another ad for the rum that makes up over 30 percent of the total rum volume in the U.S.







4. Tywin Lannister –Be A Matchmaker

The Lord of Casterly Rock, Shield of Lannisport and Warden of the West sure knows how to form strategic alliances to protect his family. Especially in a crisis, allies can be invaluable if they come to the rescue. Not only does a third party have more credibility when your own has taken a hit, they can also help in preventing a crisis. I’m not lobbying for an arranged wedding (think of Tyrion and Sansa Stark), but invest in – voluntary – relationships with retailers, bartenders and chefs you can count on when times get rough.

Real Life Example: Paul Grieco has a public love affair with Riesling. If a Riesling-producing region was in trouble, I have no doubt that Mr. Riesling himself would come to the rescue.

5. Old Nan – Be Compelling

You don’t remember the ugly old woman from Winterfell? Toothless, wrinkled and almost blind, the oldest woman in Winterfell was Bran’s favorite storyteller. When Nan told tales from beyond the Wall, they were so gripping that the Stark children were haunted by nightmares for days. Old Nan mastered what Tom Wark from Fermentation Wine Blog considers the key to being a great publicist: “Know how to tell and sell a compelling story to the people most likely to be receptive to that story.”

Real Life Example: Kudos to Smirnoff and the creative team behind the “Exclusively for Everybody” campaign. The message “vodka for the masses” has never been communicated better.

Game of Thrones has plenty of “what not to do” examples too. Take Jaime Lannister: One mistake (killing the old king) earned him the reputation as The King Slayer, an image he is unable to correct.  What can your favorite Game of Thrones character teach us about (booze) PR? Let me know in the comments section.

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