In the Pursuit office, over the water cooler talk for the last 24 hours has predominantly been focused on the news that Harry & Meghan “revealed they intend “to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family, and work to become financially independent”.
It’s HUGE news. What’s even bigger is that it really did come without warning. Sure, some Royal watchers may have expected the pair (and baby Archie) to split their time between Canada and the UK, but a step back? Wow.
Below we share our thoughts and highlight four important PR cornerstones relating to this announcement.
- The importance of communication – If nothing else this announcement highlights how very essential communication must be with all associated parties.
- Planning – Having a timeline that includes all associated parties is also critical
- Keeping your internal organisation as informed as the general public is paramount
- Be prepared for a barrage of questions following a major announcement
It’s our opinion that it appears internal communications didn’t occur with this announcement from Harry & Megan. The statement from Buckingham Palace said: “We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.” This insinuates that Buckingham Palace were not informed prior to announcement. A huge no-no in anyone’s book.
Being caught off guard (pardon the pun!) is never a good look for any organisation (including the Royal Family).
Taking the time to communicate with all associated parties will ensure when making an announcement that there’s a united front and everyone is aware of who will be saying what and when! It will keep any “fallout” to a minimum as well.
Which leads into the planning of any announcement. Making sure you have a timeline that allows everyone involved enough time to get their messaging correct, approved by those who need to approve it and making sure those managing social media are aware of the announcement, when it will happen so they can tackle any questions from the general public.
As with Harry & Megan, they seem to be running to their own schedule and letting Buckingham Palace clean up the proverbial mess.
When making an announcement, knowing what to say externally is one thing. Knowing what to say to those internally is another.
Internal communications need to be handled differently to external communications, often with care and discretion. Some team members may need to have a “closed door” discussion and others may need to sign a non-disclosure agreement, stating they won’t reveal any details of the discussion until a certain day /date.
The language will differ between the general public and your internal communications as well. You may want to be a little more relaxed with your internal communications (pending the announcement).
Internal discussions can often raise more questions which may not have been considered by those making the announcement. It’s always best to discuss in advance with internal executives and get their input.
Finally, being prepared for questions (both internally and from the public) is so very important. This is where good media training and planning really does prove its worth.
Being able to answer a question succinctly is key. If you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to say so. DO say that you’ll get an answer to the person who queried and make a priority of doing so.
Your social media team should be armed with a series of potential Q&A’s. If they are asked a question and they’re not sure of the answer, the team should have DIRECT access to spokesperson /decision make to provide them with the answer in a succinct amount of time.
Only time will tell how this will play out for the Royal Family. Hopefully with a little preparation the next phase won’t be as catastrophic as the first.