Doctor SpinPublic RelationsPR IndustryZombie Apocalypse Survival Skills for PR Professionals

Zombie Apocalypse Survival Skills for PR Professionals

Perception management will matter at the end of times, too.

Do you have any zombie apocalypse survival skills?

I’ve been binge-watching the hit television show Man vs Wild, featuring the charismatic survival expert Bear Grylls.

It makes me wonder:

What role could a PR professional play in a zombie apocalypse?

Table of Contents

    When the Shit Hits the Fan

    Bear Grylls shows us what it takes to eat insects, go underwater spear hunting, scale down mountains, and explore vast glacier crevasses. He can make fire by rubbing sticks against each other, quickly building shelters, and tying crazy knots.

    These are all great skills to have when our civilisation goes under.

    But how will your average PR professional contribute when the shit hits the fan? It makes me ponder this simple question:

    When civilisation fails and the zombie apocalypse comes upon us, will anyone need spin doctors?

    Bear Grylls - Meme - Zombie Apocalypse
    Meme: Bear Grylls will know what to do during a zombie apocalypse. Will you?

    Internal Comms for the Zombie Apocalypse

    Which skills could a PR professional bring to the underground bunker briefing?

    When brain matter starts hitting the panic room ventilation, and the zombies are attacking, you’ll need to stick together in close-knit teams to survive.

    As a public relations professional, you’re used to working in small units consisting of oddball specialists — while simultaneously pushing them to get the desired results.

    Survival PR Skill: Leadership

    It’s always better if the group appoints you as their leader rather than relying on self-promotion or force.

    Excellent communication skills are the trademark of great leaders, so you may opt for a leadership role.

    When the advertisers are done shooting at everyone and everything, perhaps you can take action to secure the group’s approval using psychology — without a single shot fired.

    Survival PR Skill: Motivation

    People rarely know what’s best for them — and a pandemic virus outbreak will probably not make anyone behave more rationally.

    You’ll have to find innovative ways to persuade the group not to give up, day in and day out. But as a public relations professional, you know how to create incentives and win-wins — out of thin air, if need be.

    A workshop on mission-vision-values around the campfire should do the trick.

    Survival PR Skill: Listening

    So, lots of people are going to perish. Lots of people are going to be scared. An existential crisis on a global scale will have people asking questions:

    “How could this happen to me?”
    “Why did it happen to me?”
    “What do I do now?”

    In a world where everyone wants to be heard, a PR professional understands the inherent power of active listening. If people are desperately looking for answers, then let them come.

    Sort of like inbound marketing, right?

    Stockholm invaded by zombies, epic, mystery, dense fog dusk, highly detailed, cinematic.
    AI art. Prompt: “Stockholm invaded by zombies, epic, mystery, dense fog dusk, highly detailed, cinematic.”

    Strategic Operations for the Zombie Apocalypse

    As the dust settles, there has to be some division of labour. And as a student of human behaviour, the public relations professional can help people understand their roles in this brave new and disrupted world.

    As all PR professionals know — there’s always a bigger picture.

    Survival PR Skill: Recognisance

    Monitoring and analytics are in your blood. The more information you have, the more you’ll be able to exchange for sharing what you know.

    You could take charge of collecting data and gathering intelligence to ensure that you control the knowledge on which decisions are being made.

    After all, information is power.

    Survival PR Skill: Strategy

    Whether it’s about surviving a nuclear holocaust or launching a B2B app startup in Europe, it’s all about strategy.

    With many different fractions of survivors fighting dirty and competing for limited resources, it’s not personal — it’s PR as usual.

    And if you can get journalists excited about an app with no users and no revenue, then you’ll figure out the best way to raid a pharmacy store.

    Survival PR skill: Organisation

    In a post-apocalyptic world, what would be better than having the survival skills of Bear Grylls?

    Well, that would be if you had several Bear Grylls working for you.

    As with employer branding, you must not only attract the best of the best to your band of survivors; you must also provide them with something meaningful to do.

    Agency experience will surely come in handy.

    Realistic angry zombie portrait, highly detailed, cinematic - Zombie Apocalypse Survival
    AI art. Prompt: “Realistic angry zombie portrait, highly detailed, cinematic.”

    Psychological Warfare for the Zombie Apocalypse

    Conflict gets everyone’s attention, and you know this.

    As a public relations professional, you’ll likely seek nonviolent solutions to most problems, but you can still play the aggressive game if needed.

    You know from your PR experience that it’s either ‘eat’ or ‘be eaten.’

    Survival PR Skill: Propaganda

    As your groups grow more powerful, other competing looters will try to take you down.

    It might not come naturally for a dentist or a pre-school teacher to gear up and go to war on fellow human beings. They might be bogged down by questions of morality.

    Party members with existential angst will need to hear that they’re good and the others are bad.

    A few talking points should suffice.

    Survival PR Skill: Disinformation

    Having more information than your enemies is good, but having them rely on false information would be even better.

    Fact-checking and double confirmations are probably not high on anyone’s to-do list when there’s insufficient drinking water.

    Maybe you slip your enemies some alternative facts?

    Survival PR Skill: Negotiation

    Even if the financial system has collapsed, you can rest assured that some currency will be in play. A deep understanding of what people need will make you an asset to the group.

    As a public relations professional, you can negotiate a retainer budget in your sleep. A zombie apocalypse is nothing by comparison.

    Cease-fire agreement.
    Trade for water.
    Hostage exchange.
    Please hold the door, Hodor.

    Don’t worry. We got it.

    Cover photo by Jerry Silfwer (Prints/Instagram)


    Jerry Silfwer
    Jerry Silfwer
    Jerry Silfwer, aka Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.
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