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5 PR Lessons from the Kate Middleton Media Cycle

It’s not often we dip into the world of pop culture and celebrity gossip, but the current media stories surrounding Kate Middleton’s recent step back from the public eye offer too many great PR lessons for us not to weigh in.

Whether you’re a business leader, a marketer, or a PR team, here are 5 PR lessons you can learn from this royal blunder.  

The importance of a plan 

The official narrative is that the Princess of Wales has temporarily withdrawn from public engagements due to abdominal surgery. This indicates that the family (and more importantly, the communications team) had time to prepare a comms plan for this time away. This begs the question, why does it seem like information is being shared haphazardly? 

This reactive approach to managing media relations is exactly what we want to avoid in a crisis and is a stark reminder of the importance of having a communications plan in place. By preparing an issues management plan when everything is going well, businesses can set themselves up for success should an issue arise. Ensuring all relevant stakeholders know the communications plan – including who to involve, what to say (and not say!), and what steps to take when an issue comes up – ensures a seamless experience in the moment which ultimately helps maintain trust among key stakeholders. 

Transparency is key

The royal family has built a bit of a reputation for sweeping not-so-positive news under the rug. As PR experts, we know that transparency is key for building long-term trust with our audiences. Individuals have gotten wise to obvious PR moves; releasing statements and photos that are clearly hiding a real story not only damages a brand’s reputation, but it fuels brand hesitancy further by increasing speculation. 

People now look for authentic connections with brands. In place of trying moves out of an old (read: outdated) PR playbook, brands need to communicate in a way that conveys authenticity and transparency. The general public may not need to know the details about what’s going on behind palace walls, but a simple, proactive statement that the family is taking time to connect or that the princess is taking time to heal would have gone a lot further in building trust with the public than the approach they’re currently pursuing. 

Don’t feed the negative 

The lack of transparency has caused the public conversation to turn negative. By continuing to issue statements, images, and stories to the media, the palace ensures the media narrative continues. 

When a crisis does arrive, it’s important to keep media engagement to a minimum. The more information and comments the media receives, the longer the story lives. When the story is negative, the PR team’s job is to ensure the news cycle is as short as possible. 

Use AI appropriately 

The latest development saw the princess release an image of her with her children that was swiftly removed from top media outlets like the Associated Press due to concerns that the image had been edited, with many calling out the image as an AI production.  

The growing adoption of AI is not, in and of itself, an issue but it’s important that brands use AI with caution. While AI can help expedite tasks and support marketing efforts, it should not be used in a way that detracts from a brand’s authenticity. 

Everyone has a right to privacy

The Princess of Wales is a symbol of the modern-day monarchy, but above all else, she, like everyone else, is just a person. Regardless of the reason for her disappearance, she has the right to privacy. 

We often focus on the importance of staying top of mind and ensuring business leaders remain at the forefront of the important conversations within their industry, but this latest royal drama is a great reminder that prioritizing one’s personal health and privacy is important regardless of who you are or what role you carry.

This situation highlights the critical importance of having a well-prepared communications plan in place. At Talk Shop, we understand the complexities of PR and crisis communications and are well-equipped to assist businesses in effectively managing their PR needs with strategic insight, professionalism, and integrity. Contact us today to ensure your brand is equipped to navigate any potential challenges with grace and confidence.