I am not here to debate if Squid Game is morbid, makes us squirm, or says a lot about our collective culture and continually unfolding trauma. It is, it does, and yes…we’re going through some stuff.

Instead, I want to talk about the storytelling which has left me at the edge of my seat over the course of the first season, and the strategic lessons from the show that we can apply to building a comprehensive communications strategy with a slow burn.

Origin Stories Are Captivating

Show creator Hwang Dong-hyuk’s decade-long journey from inception to the show’s ultimate production and release is a fascinating one to read. As Insider reports, the script was rejected multiple times over the course of 10-years due to it’s disturbing content, with reports that he once had to sell his laptop to make ends meet.

Yet, he persisted; and times changed. Certainly few of us could have predicted the continual cascade of “unprecedented times” that we’d be starring in back then. As a longtime fan of closed-captioning, the dubbed over format did little to dissuade me. It turns out, the same was true of others – Squid Game has been Netflix’s largest ever series premier, with The Verge reporting it “the first Netflix series to surpass 100 million in its first 28 days on the service.”

Now, as millions have discovered the incredible storytelling tucked into the horror-fantasy show, we’ve been simultaneously treated to this parallel origin story.

The lesson: be sure to play up your company’s beginnings and founder’s vision alongside your product launches. Everyone loves a Hero’s Journey.

Take Risks

The PR dream is to come out the gate with a major win in a well-respected publication, solidifying your position in the industry. That doesn’t always happen.

It can take awhile to build the PR engine. Reporters are looking for track records, continual commentary on issues before they take a chance on you. Some reporters and editors have a preference of not quoting a source until they’ve been quoted elsewhere.

In these formative years, there is an incredible opportunity to employ different creative strategies. Consider the game of marbles the players found themselves in. Using all of the available resources at their disposal, many fought their way through until they ultimately prevailed. I think we forget how valuable failed efforts can be for companies, though. Until your brand finds its own footing, be sure to take risks.

The lesson: feed your own publications. Yes, invest in your social media and blog copy to help build a repository of content, and take chances with your brand personality and approach to thought leadership. Lastly, expect it to take awhile, and then…

Be Ready for the Onslaught/Find Your Gganbu

Let me preface this by saying that I hope your media requests do not feel like an onslaught. Though, I think most of you are yearning for the day when the great media relationships come easy – trust has been built and established.

Consider select reporters your gganbu: a close friend or colleague. In this case, your game is the culmination of an article or interview which educates your audiences and highlights your value proposition.

Not every interaction will be considered a win in your book, by the way. Reporters may ask for background to help inform a story that will not quote you and doesn’t affect your bottom line. Occasionally, you might request to speak off the record, too. The ability to exercise that type of professional decorum with confidence is incredible, and opens up many future avenues for collaboration. Solidifying yourself as a trusted source regardless of recognition is a game plan that all communications teams should strive for.

The lesson: feeding relationships with reporters takes time, similar to establishing a close friendship. Don’t come out the gate expecting any favors. Be open, communicative and helpful and (ideally) enjoy many years of mutually beneficial opportunities.

Brand Building is a Long Game.

We all know and respect the idiom that success doesn’t happen overnight. Business ideas often spend years in the conceptualization phase and testing the market before formalizing and launching.

So, if we apply the same care and diligence to our communications practices, we can expect the same outcomes.

Brand building can take years, and involve a lot of trial and error. Some big ideas will fail spectacularly, sometimes teaching us lessons. Not every interaction with the media will result in a “win.” That’s ok. Work hard, play hard and enjoy the evolution of your game. The good news is, for most of us, playing the PR game isn’t a life or death situation.

If you’re interested in stepping up your PR efforts, give us a ring or fill out the form below. The best part of working with the right agency is, they’ll always have your back.

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