Sunday, April 13, 2014

What Game of Thrones Can Teach Us About Transparency

Warning: If you plan to watch the HBO show Game of Thrones, this does contain spoilers. 

In the very first episode of HBO’s hit show Game of Thrones, we learn that the queen of Westeros, Cersei Lannister, has been involved in an incestuous relationship with her brother Jaime since before she was married to the king, Robert Baratheon. Unbeknownst to everyone but Cersei and Jaime, Cersei and Robert’s children are actually Jaime’s children, with no relation to King Robert at all, making the 3 kids 100% Lannister, and in no way related to the throne of Westeros. King Robert Baratheon dies under suspicious circumstances only a few episodes later, making Cersei’s oldest child, Joffrey, the new king. However, Robert Baratheon’s friend and advisor Ned Stark soon learns the truth about Cersei’s children, that they are not Baratheons and therefore not eligible for the throne.

       Right here is the main thing about public relations that Game of Thrones can teach us: to tell the truth and not try to cover up dirty secrets, because they’re going to come to light anyway. Ned Stark confronts Cersei about her children’s illegitimacy in private, and she uses her brother to have him imprisoned, and then her son has him beheaded. However, despite Cersei’s rather extreme reaction and attempted cover-up, Ned Start had already sent letters containing the truth to many different lords and ladies across the world.

Take any class about public relations, or just ask most people, and you’ll realize that public relations practitioners, and the industry as a whole, are often perceived as masters of some dark art of manipulation, wherein the truth is never what you think it is. While this may have been somewhat true in the days of PT Barnum, nowadays, regardless of what you may want, the truth has to be clear and visible to all, no matter how dirty it is. In this modern age of technology, it’s nigh impossible to sweep something under the rug forever, and being caught trying to hide something will always make the situation worse. It’s always better to get out ahead of an ugly truth, by being upfront with it as soon as it is relevant.

       Spend 5 minutes with Game of Thronesand you’ll realizethat one hallmark of the show is its intricate webs of internecine politics and relationships. Despite its complexity, Game of Thrones can teach us many practical, real life skills, especially about public relations.

       If you’re a fan of the show, what are some PR skills that you’ve seen in Game of Thrones? We’d love to hear from you!

This guest blog post was written by PRowl Staff Member Faiz Mandviwalla.



Unknown said...

I remember in college I took a class on franchise PR and the first thing we discussed was ethical PR. We were taught that you don't manipulate things, you deal with them head on.

Unknown said...

Jamie, we do still get taught the same things in class today. Sadly, the stereotype of PR as a 'dark art' still exists out there despite all the honest PR professionals who make up the industry.