Full Volume Insight: Royal family crisis - how well has the ‘firm’ handled recent PR disasters?

Thursday, January 30, 2020
Love or loathe the Royal family, nobody can deny that they have had a rocky time recently. From the drama surrounding Meghan and Harry, to the fallout following Prince Andrew’s Newsnight interview, there’s no doubt family has been attracting unwanted attention lately.The Royal brand and reputation has certainly been weathering a PR storm - but have all the crisis’s been managed correctly by the Royal household?

Love or loathe the Royal family, nobody can deny that they have had a rocky time recently. From the drama surrounding Meghan and Harry, to the fallout following Prince Andrew’s Newsnight interview, there’s no doubt family has been attracting unwanted attention lately.

The Royal brand and reputation has certainly been weathering a PR storm - but have all the crisis’s been managed correctly by the Royal household?

Here at Full Volume, we’ve explored a number of ways that brands can handle a PR crisis, and looked into whether these tactics have been applied to the Royals and the current issues they are facing. 

United Front

When a crisis hits, it’s important that a brand reaches out to all public-facing stakeholders in the business to ensure that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.  

Everyone should be briefed on what has happened, told how the crisis is being dealt with, be briefed on if/how they should communicate externally, and also given notice of any next steps they might be involved in. It is also important to keep people in the loop as the situation develops. 

In the case of the Royals, this seems to have been done rather well. Despite rumours in the press, senior Royals have continued the business as usual approach, with only official statements being issued on behalf of the family. Behind closed doors, we would assume that every key Royal has been kept in up to date and is being briefed on any plans. 

Be Prepared

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Brands that don’t have a plan in place for a crisis are really putting themselves at risk! 

It can be difficult to have a plan in place for every crisis, but it is always good to have a ‘crisis team’ in place. That way, if an issue was to strike, you already have a protocol and a team in place so when something hits everyone knows their roles and responsibilities. 

After reigning for 67 years, the Queen has certainly handled a number of crises, so will have a number of protocols in place to handle all eventualities. Granted each one will be different, but a key team of people will surround the Royals, ready to spring into action. 

Take Control of Messaging 

Once the crisis team has a handle on a situation and a plan on how to respond, it’s important that everyone agrees on the messaging, which channels it will be communicated on, and by whom. It is always best to be open and as transparent as possible. Most importantly, if you’re at fault - always apologise. 

In some situations, however, issuing a statement and an apology might not always be the best response, especially if it will have legal implications. Always consult with legal experts if unsure about any issue - apologising implies that you’re at fault which can be hard to retract later. 

The scandal surrounding Prince Andrew is a strong example of how handling a crisis that could have legal ramifications. The Prince has been accused of serious crimes and taking part in an interview that will grab global attention could have led him to implicate himself in a crime. Making such a public statement could have huge ramifications for the Royals. 

Expect a backlash 

In the age of social media, every man and his dog has an opinion. With a few clicks, a tweet can go viral and garner attention across the world’s stage. This is something that brands need to expect. Even if a brand doesn’t have a huge social following they must assume that there will be a social backlash. 

It’s key to have a plan in place for this and how it will be handled. Does your brand release statements on social? Do you respond to negative comments? Do you delete negative posts? There is a lot to consider so a well thought out social plan is essential. 

With many of the Royals now operating social media accounts, it has given them the opportunity to use this channel to release statements directly, without having to go through the media. They seem to have a clear plan in place to use social channels to make announcements - but they don’t use the channels to respond to comments - a wise move for the Royals. 

Monitor The Situation  

Once a crisis has hit, it is crucial that brands monitor the situation. Has the crisis impacted sales, site visits, sentiment etc? 

A crisis can have a long term effect on a business if not handled properly and could even be the beginning of the end for some. Establish if there are any monitoring tools that can track business factors to ensure that the crisis isn’t having a long-standing impact. 

In the wake of the recent crisis, it is a guarantee that the Royals will be keeping a close eye on how the public is viewing them and if it has had an impact on their popularity. To ensure a long-term and successful reign they will need to ensure that they have public support. 

Learn and Move Forward 

So you’ve had your crisis, the dust has settled and it is business as usual. What next? 

It is time for the business to conduct a review. Was the crisis handled well, what could have been done better, how can this be stopped from happening again, what needs to change in the organisation? A crisis is a good opportunity to change and make changes for the better. 

In the wake of ‘Megxit’ and all the other Royal drama, it already seems that the Queen is making plans and concessions for Royals that may not want to take an active role in the ‘firm’, but is still ensuring that the Royal brand isn’t tarnished and will continue for many years to come. 

To find out how we can help and support your brand during a crisis then get in touch with us at hello@fullvolumepr.co.uk


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