What the Game of Thrones finale can teach you about PR

With a petition calling for HBO to redo the final season of “Game of Thrones” attracting over a million signatures, one of the most popular television series of all time has now become one of the most controversial.  

So, we thought it might be fun to see how some of the most criticised aspects of season eight relate to some common PR mistakes.     

1) Sudden character arcs can ruin the story.  

Even if you believe that the Targaryen bloodline is responsible for Daenerys’ sudden change of character and that Jamie was always going to revert to type, your brand personality has no place for GOT’s dramatic character arcs.   Your brand personality determines the topics you cover and what tone you use and it’s an intrinsic part of the image you present to the world. Haphazardly switching from, for example, a corporate image to an irreverent one will confuse and ultimately undermine your message.  

game of thrones dragon

2) Small mistakes are a big distraction.

If you’re not convinced about the ability of small mistakes to derail a story, consider the fact that the biggest takeaway from the fourth episode of season eight was a coffee cup.  See what I did there?  Similarly, a single spelling mistake can distract readers from your message and ruin their perception of your brand, especially if (like most companies) you’re trying to create an impression of high-quality products and exacting standards. 


3) No one likes being left in the dark.

“The Long Night” may have been cinematically styled to contrast with other battles featured in the series, but for many viewers it was just frustratingly dark and impossible to follow.  The equivalent of this in PR terms is when companies that have previously been active in the press and on social media suddenly “go dark” and stop sharing updates and news stories.  Often this is actually due to an increase in other business activity, but the marketplace may assume the worst if you suddenly disappear from their view. 

social media goes dark

 4) The person with the best story is not necessarily the best spokesperson. 

Bran may have the best story, but you wouldn’t want him to tell it.   Not every CEO or technical lead is a natural spokesperson and, while media training can certainly help, sometimes it’s best to look at the wider leadership team for a Tyrion to speak on the company’s behalf. 


5) Let the experts DO THEIR JOB. 

Season 8 is what happens when you take things into your own hands.  While HBO’s scriptwriters may have done a fantastic job, their best efforts don’t compete with the original storyteller’s.  Similarly, PR professionals do more than write press releases and befriend editors – they help you develop and execute a communication plan that is consistently on brand and on topic. 

Despite widespread criticism HBO’s chief of programming defended the final season of the series saying, “You’re never going to make everybody happy,” but then he doesn’t work in PR.

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