Game of Thrones is the most popular television show of all time. An average of 23 million Americans watched each episode during Season 7—and HBO’s hit series holds the all-time record for most Emmys. It’s got captivating characters played by brilliant actors like Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington and Lena Headey.
Today, though, I want to talk about the misunderstood Game of Thrones characters. There are five in my mind that could’ve used a publicist, like whoa! Publicists are often brought in to do damage control, help gain credibility or simply build an image. And even if these characters had to borrow from the Iron Bank, an investment in a publicist would be well worth it.
Oh, and it goes without saying, big spoiler alerts ahead if you’re not through Season 7. All footage is courtesy of HBO.
Without a doubt the most misunderstood character on the show. Facts are facts, though, and Jaime Lannister earned the nickname “Kingslayer” by stabbing the “Mad King” Aerys Targaryen in the back in the throne room. How would a publicist help? By getting ahead of the story and managing the message. It turns out Jaime did betray his King, but for the good of the people, as the Mad King was planning on burning the entire city to the ground.
Perhaps pitching Jaime’s story for an op-ed opportunity, giving him some real estate to go into further details about the decision he made and why. Maybe a mea culpa on Good Morning America? In reality, Jaime just needs to hone his messaging and deliver it to a bigger audience.
The Hound has an image problem, literally and figuratively. Burned at a young age, his face is gruesomely terrifying and his reputation precedes him. And he’s a killer. Did I say that yet? He once admitted as much to Sansa Stark, saying, “Look at me! Stannis is a killer. The Lannisters are killers. Your father was a killer. Your brother is a killer. Your sons will be killers someday. The world is built by killers … so you better get used to looking at them.”
But here’s where a publicist can help: Identifying the why and sharing facts about Sandor Clegane, also known as The Hound. Finding the why is important when repairing an image or seeking favorability. What’s Clegane’s story? He was abused as a child by his older brother Gregor, burning his face and teaching him the cold, hard facts of the world. So why is Sandor a killer? It’s survival. He knows the world looks down on him and he knows the world is full of terrible people. It’s the only story he’s ever known, but it doesn’t have to be the only story he’s ever told. Hopefully one day he can tell it to more than Arya Stark.
We’ve all heard the phrase. Perception is reality, they tell us. Who is the they in that sentence? I don’t know, but they’ve got a decent point. How people perceive you is what they will accept as reality. The only way to change that is by changing yourself and getting that message out far and wide. That’s why I love the story of Tyrion Lannister. He’s my favorite character and it’s not close.
Tyrion’s mother died giving birth to him, his family for the most part hates his dwarf-like features combined with a neverending stream of sarcasm. And while all that may be true—it’s not the part of a story that a great publicist would highlight.
Instead, they’d feature:
- His courageous win at Blackwater Bay
- His ability to build strategic relationships that allow for advancement of his mission, like his friendship with Varys the spider
- His negotiation skills that literally have saved him multiple times while building trust with the likes of Daenerys Targaryen
Dragons! Dragons! Clap, clap, clap! Or in emoji speak, 🐉🐉👏👏👏
Rhaegal and Viserion are two of Daenerys’ three dragons, named after Dany’s brothers Rhaegar and Viserys.
One day, on a scenic hillside of Meereen, a herder watches his sheep grazing in the pasture when a large dragon comes in, burns them to death and leaves no scraps behind. Dany learns of this, knows it is her third and largest dragon, named Drogon. Dany may need a creative firm for a more creative dragon name, but that’s a different blog.
Dany responds by locking up Rhaegal and Viserion in a dungeon.
How could a publicist have helped? This is a crisis-communications situation. Their dragon brother is guilty, the community knows it and they are taking shrapnel themselves just by sharing a mother. A great publicist is skilled in crisis communications, particularly in reputation management, outreach strategy and key messaging.
My colleague Adam Sisson has this hot take, and I can’t say I disagree with him. Ned Stark is misunderstood. Sure, he’s slow-witted, doesn’t play the game of kings and queens well, and he doesn’t listen very well. Heck, Petyr Baelish told him to not trust anybody … which of course led Ned Stark to trust Baelish, who ultimately turned on him. Not the best move.
But other than his blatant idiocy, Ned had good intentions in Season 1. He was a great dad, loved his wife and cared deeply about the Northern people he lorded over. Long story short, nearly everyone thought he’d be the long-term hero of the show.
Now, was being a “good dad” and “decent person” enough to survive the game of thrones? Heck no. After discovering the truth about Cersei and Jaime Lannister, Ned decides to do the most stupid thing possible and confront Cersei.
Ned needed a publicist, badly! He wanted to say everything but wasn’t strategic about when and where he said it. Any good publicist would’ve counseled against that move, perhaps instead finding a different way to bring that information to light. Ultimately, Ned paid the price for it in a death that changed television history forever.