Friday Drop: One is terribly good value.....

Waggener Edstrom's UK director, corporate, Caroline Randle, analyses how Prince Charles' PR team rescued him from a media mauling

Prince Charles: a tight ship?
Prince Charles: a tight ship?

Good week for Prince Charles

This week started badly for bonny Prince Charlie with the Independent's Joan Smith screeching "Just who does Prince Charles think he is?" Lord Rogers' Chelsea Barracks development was apparently scrubbed after some alleged regal meddling. Things could have got worse on Tuesday with the publication of the Prince's accounts, but this in effect actually killed the barracks story.

To the naked eye (and seized upon by The Scotsman and The Mirror amongst others) the accounts told us that he earned more, paid less tax and was just a general drain on the public purse. But a nifty communication swoop from Clarence House meant that Charles' private secretary Sir Michael Peat was quoted in most articles. He pushed the key message that expenditure had fallen and, like the public, the Prince tightened his belt because of the recession. Robert Cole's insightful comment piece in the Times went one step further, highlighting that if the Prince had made more money this year, so what? He runs a tight ship. So he pays a little less tax this year? That's more than his mother pays and at least he is forthcoming with his accounts, other SW1-based public servants couldn't say the same. As Cole points out, ‘this is one national institution that doesn't need bailing out'.

 Lessons


A well placed, good or better news story will often slow the momentum on a bad one.

Off the record briefings to journalists can help provide context

By admitting via quotes he is suffering too, it is easier to garner sympathy.

Bad week for Steve Jobs, chief executive, Apple


It's been a tough few months for iconic Apple supremo, Steve Jobs. His health problems have placed a strain on the face synonymous with the brand that brought us the iPhone. But poor Steve has't been helped by a curiously muddled communications plan around his ill health.

The communication woes can be traced back to the decision to respond to health rumours as "a private matter". Fast forward to this week and Job's coming back to work was handled in typically confused fashion. The vehicle? A press release trumpeting the 1 millionth iPhone sales with a quote from the CEO. This tactic was described by analysts Oppenheimer & Co. as "effectively telling us he is back in the job with a backhanded disclosure". This was the equivalent of a government department issuing a bad news release at five to six on a Friday afternoon. The idea was clearly to try to not make Steve Jobs the lead of the story and refocus on the product. But when CEO and brand are so closely entwined was that a realistic expectation?

 Lessons

Acting secretly and not communicating above the bare minimum has heightened media interest in the illness, not dampened it down

Trying to hide important news in an unrelated press release only serves to heighten journalist's interest

With private matters such as ill health and bereavement, an earlier, and clear, personal statement requesting privacy could have limited further intrusion and speculation.

 

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