The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

By Mark Borkowski

November 18, 2019 | 5 min read

Well, just as we all hoped that Prince Andrew has his mobile switched off and no current access to the headlines or more of his own Olympian sized hubris, we hear that he is delighted with the attention caused by his interview with the BBC. You honestly could not make it up. It’s the most blatant example of ‘self’ as it gets.

The Prince and the PR crisis - how can Prince Andrew come back from that car crash interview?

The Prince and the PR crisis - how can Prince Andrew come back from that car crash interview?

The use of PR is always a good idea and even the right approach in the case, but PR and narrative must be forensically prepared with every angle, opportunity, and pitfall scrutinised. This was an example of the opposite.

If we ever had a shadow of a doubt that Andrew had no part in this, he shattered it himself with a stumbling interview that portrayed an incredulous lack of empathy, intelligence, and awareness. What he did ensure is a place in history and a story that will run and run. So where does he stand now and can he go from here?

Today his reputation is in tatters and he wrote his own part in the story. Something more profound than vocabulary is at the heart of a good story in crisis recovery these days, something more real, and that is authenticity and truth. If he believed he could control the headlines, then he was ill-advised.

Allowing the power of the camera lens to scrutinise his every gesture for 45 minutes was a catastrophic error. Lacking in requisite contemporary connection, he chose to blunder into an encounter hoping for the best. As a masterclass in how not to do PR, the interview will not be knocked off the most viewed rank for some time and all the old back headlines will come back at him too. You can't escape air-miles Andy once it's embedded in the public conscious and Andrew has never enjoyed positive media. His hubris was always going to raise a few eyebrows. This interview was designed as a PR exercise to dampen the narrative but it did the opposite, igniting globally negative headlines and a million social memes. A lack of preparation and the non-existent solid social media relations was always going to floor him.

So what now? How can he rebuild a voice or his tattered brand that we can listen to or relate with? Well, for one thing, he needs to fade away quietly for a time. Learn to understand the crowd outside his privileged network. Comprehend empathy and deal with 21st-century criticism rather than be indulged by the faint praise he so obviously feels he deserves. This seems like a monumental task for any adviser!

He needs to understand that we exist in a headline culture, and social media fans those flames. What's recalled as the embers fade is most likely the aspect of a story we most want to burn, so to get beyond that and avoid it takes a good deal of expertise and planning, an appetite for language and a very healthy knowledge of how a crowd mentality works, because it's the crowd who will take a story and pick it ruthlessly apart these days.

Most of all he needs the right friends and advisers who will hold a mirror up, challenge him and be able to firmly steer him to a better path.

He is a member of the Royal Family. For a few moments, there is room and some acceptance with that but it doesn't last long.

He needs to stand still now, go back to the beginning, unpick and re-learn everything. He needs to do the work.

Mark Borkowski is founder and head of Borkowski PR. You can find him on Twitter @MarkBorkowski.

Crisis PR Media The Royal Family

More from Crisis PR

View all