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  • Writer's pictureTaylor Nossaman

PR strategies that make the odds ever in your favor

Netflix added the Hunger Games series to its streaming platform last month, giving the series a renewed audience more than 10 years after the release of the first movie. New and old fans alike are reanalyzing the plot and actions of characters, including those of Katniss Everdeen, the series’s protagonist, and her fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark.

I, along with these other fans, rewatched the movies I was introduced to in middle school, this time with fresh eyes. Having recently started a career in public relations, I realized The Hunger Games offers more than entertainment, as there are significant parts of the films that I now realize can inform PR strategies as I start to formulate them in my new communications career.

Make a lasting impression

After being selected to participate in the Hunger Games, the tributes march in a tribute parade before the people of Panem. This parade serves as the tribute’s introduction to the spectators of the Games and exemplifies the pageantry of the Hunger Games. Therefore, it is critical that the tributes make a good first impression.

Tributes are dressed up in elaborate costumes that represent their home districts. As the tributes from District 12, the district that produces coal, the audience expects Katniss and Peeta to dress as coal miners, as done in years prior. Instead, the pair give homage to their home by wearing actual flames. This unique take makes them literally burn bright in their audience’s minds.

With 24 tributes entering the arena, it is easy for tributes to get lost in the crowd. By taking a chance and being unique, Katniss and Peeta can stand out among their competitors. By keeping their example in mind, I can evaluate communications strategies and messaging to ensure they make a bold statement that separates clients from competitors.

Create a unique and memorable story

Since the Hunger Games are sold to the people in the fictional world of Panem as an entertainment spectacle, residents typically view it as a reality TV show. In order to succeed and survive, tributes have to develop their own stories to sell to viewers, a strategy that mimics companies’ storytelling platforms.

During the tribute interviews, Katniss and Peeta are given the chance to do so. Caesar Flickerman, the master of ceremonies, hosts the interviews. Caesar is strategic, asking targeted questions designed to set the tributes up to tell their story. He then capitalizes on the tribute’s answers, spinning them to the storyteller’s advantage. Caesar’s skills in this area serve as an inspiration to PR professionals looking to tell clients’ stories.

During his interview, Peeta publicly confesses that he has feelings for Katniss. After some initial hesitation, Katniss plays into his confession, realizing that this story is a way to make herself more appealing to her target audience and might be a way to ensure her survival. Together, the two create a “star-crossed lovers” narrative, since one of them is fated to die in the arena. The audience loves their story, and this narrative is what results in the pair surviving the Games.

By telling the right story to the right people, Katniss and Peeta are able to make it out of the Hunger Games alive, indicating the power of a good story and platform. Like Katniss, I’ve come to realize the power of narrative-building story that resonates across audiences and drives growth. While working at SutherlandGold, I’ve been able to see strong stories in action through the platforms developed for our clients.

Develop beneficial relationships

“You want to know how to stay alive? You get people to like you,” is the first piece of advice Katniss and Peeta receive from their mentor Haymitch.

He explains to them that in their moments of desperation in the arena, viewers are able to send them gifts to aid them in survival. By making themselves likable, they are more likely to receive outside help when needed.

How do they accomplish this? By telling their story.

Using their star-crossed lovers narrative renders Katniss and Peeta likable to their audience. A strong, strategic story allows them to make connections and outlast their competitors.

Show off your skills

Before entering the arena, tributes are given a chance to show their skills and are evaluated by the gamemakers. During their evaluations, Katniss shows off her prowess with the bow and arrow, and Peeta demonstrates his physical strength. They both play to their individual strengths, impressing the gamemakers.

Katniss and Peeta demonstrate a key strategy: Impressing an audience makes a difference. What better way to do it than by tailoring their approach to their strengths?

Playing to the strengths of a company is key when crafting PR platforms. While at SG, I’ve seen these strategies in action, as we help clients follow the example set by Katniss and Peeta and capitalize on their unique strengths to impact larger market forces.

Final Takeaway: While The Hunger Games certainly entertains viewers by giving them a glimpse into the world of Panem, it also gives them a peek into the world of public relations. The communications strategies used by Katniss and Peeta throughout the movie may go unnoticed by the casual viewer, but PR professionals who want to help clients excel have much to learn from these movies if they want to help clients always have the odds in their favor.


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