What “The Legend Of Zelda” Can Teach PR Pros
⌛ By Kaylin R. Adkins ⌛
With the release of Nintendo’s new game, “Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” I have been spending a lot of time exploring this new rendition of a game series I have loved since I was a child. The first “Zelda” game I ever played in excess was the classic “Ocarina of Time,” and since then, I have been hooked. I defeated Ganondorf with light arrows and the Biggoron Sword countless times in "Ocarina of Time" (because, let’s face it, the Master Sword just wasn’t as tough — and I spent a WHOLE LOT of time bartering items for that Biggoron Sword). I read the game's dialogue to my sister before she could read, and she begged me to play more so she could witness the story, too.
I collected all of the treasure maps in “Wind Waker,” all of the missing pieces of fairies in the dungeons of “Majora’s Mask,” all of the bugs in “Twilight Princess” — and now, all of the recipes in “Breath of the Wild.” (Just a sidenote: I’m not a fan of “Skyward Sword.”) I continue to love the horses and anything related to a ranch or stable on the games. Malon Lon was my spirit animal in “Ocarina of Time.” I have fictionalized journal entry writings from Malon in a kitten notebook to prove it.
I named my cat after Ilia in “Twilight Princess,” for goodness sake. If I had a horse, her name would be Epona. I still sleep in my “Ocarina of Time” Nintendo 64 shirt (rest in peace, my original, dearly departed N64). You could say I’m a “Zelda” geek from way back — even before the Temple of Time was constructed and all three spiritual stones were collected. I love the games for myriad reasons.
I also love my public-relations career and recently thought of some ways PR pros could learn from “The Legend of Zelda” and all of its glory. Here are some tips for public relations practitioners, based on “The Legend of Zelda” franchise.
You’re welcome, geeky PR pros like me.
1. You have to wear a lot of different masks.
If you’re the only PR/marketing person in your office, this fact becomes especially important. You will have to wear the hats of many different roles, including: media relations, website design, video production, photography, event planning, strategic planning, internal communications (sometimes even serving in a human relations fashion), logo police (and the assertive branding villain, also known as Majora’s Mask), taking out the trash, changing the toilet-paper rolls, answering general phone calls — and more, as needed.
- Great Fairy’s Mask — When you have to put on a pleasant PR façade, even when Ganondorf is wreaking havoc on the entire kingdom.
- Bunny Hood — Used for days when you can’t clone yourself and have to be in a million different places, i.e. Hyrule Field running from stalfos.
- Mask of Truth — You are your organization’s or clients’ moral compass.
- All-Night Mask — PR is 24/7. Sometimes, burning the midnight oil is a must when under tight deadlines.
- Romani’s Mask — Used to get in your own Milk Bar (or state of relaxation) when you need time to regroup.
2. PR is an open world of adventure, much like Hyrule.
You never know what you’re going to encounter on a day in your public-relations career. You will wake up with pages of to-do lists on Evernote, but all of those wishes for productivity could evaporate like a poe ghost in Hyrule Field. A crisis could occur or you could have to pitch in when a stressed coworker is overwhelmed with an event or live-television appearance. Take a deep breath. Take everything with a grain of salt and find silver linings. You could be on the fastest route to your most fun and rewarding PR adventure yet. Explore your surroundings and leave no stone unturned. Take time to listen to the music.
3. Be resourceful with the tools of your trade.
I have six years of public relations experience in the nonprofit realm, so being resourceful was a mantra for me. I couldn’t stand wasting money (it’s the money-saver in me). Now, as a small business owner, I really can’t abide wasting money. My first year as a business owner was full of those learning experiences. So, save your silver and gold rupees and be resourceful. Make a little go a long way. Be like Link: collect ancient commodities, melee weapons, bows and arrows, mushrooms, herbs and animal meats. In PR terms, make a list of valuable industry resources, contacts, goals/objectives and more. This will ensure you have a Plan A (and Plans B-Z) during feast and famine times. Take time to smash all of the pots.
4. You have to save the day, like Link, often in the 11th Hour.
We’ve all been here. Someone wants to graciously take a work item of a PR pro’s plate, so they decide to design a flier or post something on social media. Everything is wonderful, until the PR pro sees that the logo is pixelated and in the wrong place, there’s convoluted messaging and the time is not in the standard Associated Press style. What is the PR pro to do? Correct these mistakes before they are distributed, if possible. Public relations often involves arriving at the 11th Hour and saving the day. Be calm, even when the moon is about to wipe out your Termina.
5. Beware of gossip stones. They may reveal the truth, but they also may lead you astray.
Always be aware of how your brand is faring online. With tools like Hootsuite, Klout and other resources, it’s simple to know which keywords, hashtags and phrases are being used on behalf of your company, brand, product, client and more. With that is a double-edged Master Sword. Be cautious on certain sites, like Topix and Reddit, for they are time killers and often feed into sensationalized gossip stones. They are like accidentally stepping into a hole on the floor while exploring Jabu-Jabu’s Belly.
6. Be a storyteller.
Everyone — and I do mean EVERYONE — loves a good story. With your brand, cause, company or whatever you are helping to promote through multimedia, always be an effective storyteller. It helps to bring your message to life. In today’s polluted digital age, you want to have unique communications methods. Being an effective storyteller will ensure your message will be heard. Write excellent press releases, create compelling infographics, interview people for video testimonials, use impactful photos and more. Stand out from the rest. Be your own Hero of Time.
7. Timeliness is everything.
I would be remiss if I didn’t include an hourglass namesake. Public relations is all about timeliness. If you have a request from a newspaper reporter, be sure to get the reporter all necessary information in a timely fashion. Media representatives have timelines and deadlines. This builds trust with the media. Also use this practice with everything you do. Establish an internal 24-hour timeframe to get back to individuals on your most-pressing projects. Then, set Tier 2, Tier 3 and other timeframes.
8. Be mindful of errors.
It’s human nature to make errors. When you make them, own up to them. For example, I have sent out press releases and have forgotten to attach the files. Oops. After catching attachment or fact errors, I send out corrections. It’s important to establish a dialogue. Most people will be relieved that you and your brand are not perfect — but perfectly imperfect.
9. Treat your clients like they’re the Triforce.
Cultivate relationships like they’re a new rendition of The Deku Tree, sprouting up in your own personal PR Hyrule. Establish long-lasting partnerships with local media and be sure to seek out online sources, too. Use your power, wisdom and courage to keep your clients happy and increase your skill levels with different realms of public relations.
10. Look to the past as you envision the future.
Know the differences between Links, Zelda, Ganons, Impas and lands of Hyrule. Look to the past for inspiration and the future for dreaming. Don’t lose sight of the present, though. You could get attacked when you’re outside of your realities or looking for the Sacred Realm. Listen to what your mentors, or sages, tell you.
11. It’s OK to be a little nervous and unsure sometimes. It’s part of the gig.
We all have reservations and anxieties about certain aspects of our jobs, and PR practitioners are no different. For me, I don’t like public speaking. I never have enjoyed it, but over time (and through lots of practice), I have started to not loathe it as much. Set goals you would like to achieve, both personally and professionally. Be sure to realize that there will be bumps in the communications road, and you will sometimes feel like a Guardian is killing you with its gaze.
12. Get enough sleep before your journey.
Each game in “The Legend of Zelda” franchise begins when Link is awakened by someone, whether it’s a Loftwing, Navi or an unknown voice in the Shrine of Resurrection. Be sure to get enough sleep and eat consistently so you can be at your PR best. Replenish your hearts and magic meters with potions, Lon Lon Milk and nourishing soup from your grandmother.
13. It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this.
Always be prepared during times of crises. They happen when you least expect them. Use your skills like they’re your Master Sword. They are unique to you, and you have different combinations of strengths and weaknesses that will aid you on your journey. Learn from your mistakes and continue to hone the skills that make you an effective public-relations person. Life-long learning and keeping up with current industry trends will also serve you well as you build your PR arsenal.
May these public relations tips and the Gerudo Valley theme from “Ocarina of Time” be forever present in your geeky mind.
While the writing content is mine, the images belong to Nintendo. All images were taken from Google.
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