PR advice for the families of Game of Thrones
By Consultant Trent Swindells
When season five of Game of Thrones reached its terrifying conclusion, it set yet another high watermark for a series that has really captured the zeitgeist, breaking records for illegal downloads and seizing office watercoolers everywhere.
The season finale also marked the point where the TV show’s producers caught up with most of the printed material from the books, by the notoriously slow George RR Martin, which means that for the first time in the series’ history, no one has any idea how things will progress from here.
This seems like the perfect opportunity for some gratuitous PR advice on how the happy families of Westeros should manage their public affairs, as they stumble into an uncertain future full of regicide and ice zombies.
Warning: spoilers ahead
The season may have ended with Cersei stripped naked and covered in filth, but it’s a great opportunity to remake her public image. A newly humble Cersei, in touch with the common folk, could make public appearances at local markets, or work with the High Sparrow to run a soup kitchen for the homeless. Of course, Cersei will probably just revert to type and kill a lot of people, but that’s not the advice we’d give her.
Perhaps the Lannisters would do better to stake their reputation on Jamie? His slow redemption from incestuous child-killer to virtuous amputee over five seasons of television is the very study of a long-term reputation management strategy.
Poor Stannis had everything going for him: a rightful claim to the Iron Throne, a family who loved him and devoted followers. Too late, Stannis learned that it’s not enough for a good leader merely to be right. You also have to inspire and take people with you on your journey, instead of burning your daughter at the stake and constantly correcting everyone’s grammar. We would have recommended sacking his advisors, but it’s beside the point now.
The creepy new stewards of the north face some serious publicity issues. The North remembers, as they say, Ramsay Bolton is a sadist, their flag is a flayed man, and winter is coming! We suggest turning all this negative into a positive, by offering shelter to those subjects who pledge fealty, which will be just about everyone by the time they see the approaching army of undead ice zombies.
Remember them? The slowly unwinding fate of the Stark family offers an important lesson in the value of a good communication strategy. Jon Snow needed a good deal of key messaging to change the prejudice of the Nightwatch before letting the Wildlings through the wall. His sluggish father Eddard Stark died before he could tell anyone the truth about the heirs to the throne of Baratheon – except his mortal enemy! And Rob Stark…well, that’s what you get from listening to your mother and thinking that simply apologising will let you off the hook.
Finally, there’s one family in Game of Thrones who is starting to win the PR war. By reopening the fighting pits, marrying a local aristocrat, and chaining up her dragons instead of letting them slaughter local children, Daenerys Targaryen is on the way to winning over the Mereen population. She’s surrounded herself with good advisors and even listens to them. She still has her work cut out for her at home in Westeros, where her father is remembered primarily as an insane tyrant.
The best advice we can give Daenerys is to time her return to Westeros just right. When the ice zombies invade, owning three dragons could be just the thing to inspire confidence in the masses. And the series is called ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ after all.