EDITORIAL: A Royal lesson in communications

The suggestion that the Royal family should hire a director of communications to mastermind its PR strategy has been greeted with the usual horrified gasps from Royal experts and media know-it-alls.

The suggestion that the Royal family should hire a director of

communications to mastermind its PR strategy has been greeted with the

usual horrified gasps from Royal experts and media know-it-alls.



The idea is even said to have caused some dissent within Royal

ranks.



One aide was quoted this week as saying that the Queen abhors the idea

of having someone leak upbeat Royal stories in ’a rather underhand

way’.



She has a valid point. The Royal family does not need to strive for more

publicity; nor does it need to express views on national issues, become

embroiled in public debate, or rubbish rivals - all of which are the

stock in trade of the political spin doctor.



It is a different role which would be required of a Royal director of

communications. Public relations has two distinct functions: to advise

and to present. Only the latter role is widely understood, as the

reaction to this story demonstrates, but it is the former which is more

important.



The Royal family does not need a souped-up press spokesman - the Palace

press office is perfectly capable of fulfilling that presentational

role, although it needs to be let off the leash more often. What it

really needs is some strategic communications advice.



Most of those who dismiss the idea that the Royal family needs PR help

concede that its image is stuffy and out of touch, but stress that this

is at odds with the hardworking, dignified reality. Their clever

solution?



Do nothing.



Some fear that the ’mystique of majesty’ would be threatened by

tinkering with its image. And it is true to say that, unlike a political

party with its eye on the next election, the Royal family does not need

to alter its behaviour and traditions with every new focus group

finding. But it does need advice on the communications implications of

its decisions if it is to avoid damaging its image even further in the

eyes of the public.



As part of this, it needs to be told some harsh truths: for example,

that shutting out the late Princess of Wales during the breakdown of her

marriage led directly to the most damaging episode in recent Royal

history - open warfare between her and Prince Charles conducted through

the media.



With proper advice at the time, this could have been avoided.



The Royal family has already taken the most important first step by

recognising that there is a problem, and now it needs to act to address

the issues that the MORI study has uncovered. Hiring a professional

adviser would be a very good start.



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