Greg Simpson, founder of Press for Attention PR and Enterprise Nation Champion for Nottingham, discusses the recent royal crisis and presents three things to keep in mind if you ever find yourself trying to ‘control’ a media situation.
I was asked to pop over to the BBC when this news broke to discuss where this all went so badly wrong for a PR point of view.
There are so many errors from a strategic and tactical point of view it is almost impossible to pinpoint where to start with this one.
Let’s look at the decision to do the interview in the first place.
It has since transpired that the Prince’s PR adviser specifically advised against doing the interview and even resigned over it. This is pretty incredible because the chap had been brought in SPECIFICALLY to help the Prince with the fallout from his long-rumoured friendship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Now I hear rumours that there is likely to be another documentary coming to light very soon, perhaps even by the time you read this column.
The plan here might have been to get out ahead of this documentary going to air with a more ‘controlled’ story but to decide to set up an interview with such a seasoned broadcaster as Emily Maitlis and then attempt to bend her to your will was naive at best and as it turns out, somewhat predictably, has only made matters worse.
I imagine that this was against the expressed wishes and guidance of Andrew’s new PR guru and that is why he resigned. I find it incredible that someone could hire a specialist and then ignore the advice that comes from years of professional training and experience.
There is a saying attributed to Abraham Lincoln: “The man who represents himself has a fool for a client.” I believe this is meant to refer to the courts and lawyers but it is equally apt with PR, especially when one has the kind of high profile and indeed resource of someone like the Prince, never mind the fact that his stock in the public eye has never been exceptionally high.
Whatever the background, let’s be clear on three things which I hope you will keep in mind if you ever find yourself trying to ‘control’ a media situation.
1. Trust is earned, not managed.
2. Defending your position does not come first. That is the goal, but you first need to apologise. If you don’t, it not only suggests you think you are not to blame, it smacks of arrogance.
3. Listen to experts who know more about something than you do, whatever your rank, title, IQ or ego.
The entire interview was utterly cringe worthy, but the worst bit is there appeared to be ZERO empathy with the victims of his former friend. The Prince may be innocent, he may not, the point is, he SHOULD feel empathy with those who have been affected directly and indirectly throughout the whole Epstein scandal and show it. Clearly.
Unfortunately, it appears he only has sympathy for himself. Forgive me if I don’t think others will join him.