What does Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal have in common with Paris Hilton, a Kardashian, or an insecure teenage girl? While the 58-year-old male may not need to be constantly reassured about being loved or looking pretty, he does want the world to acknowledge that he really, really is the richest of them all.
The amusing spat between Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and Forbes Magazine about his rank as 26th on their World’s Billionaires list has been a source of Schadenfreude for those who didn’t make the ranks. One day before the publication, the office of Prince Alwaleed issued a petulant statement saying he would “sever ties” with the Forbes billionaires list for a series of allegations made by the magazine. Forbes responded with a story describing in detail the process of estimating the Prince’s wealth and the efforts undertaken by himself and his entourage to influence the ranking – including the revelation that the Prince sits on a throne when travelling in his private jet.
The Prince’s efforts to secure his position in the list included making pleading calls with the editor and even offering access to his private banker in Switzerland, all to no avail. Instead, the Prince has inadvertently encouraged increased scrutiny over bigger issues, including the integrity of the Saudi financial center and allegations of stock price manipulation in the Kingdom.
THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for Prince Alwaleed. How do you fix a PR problem you started yourself?
THE PR TAKEAWAY: Keep business impersonal. Being the PR for Prince Alwaleed presumably involves learning to count to ten while the man on the throne shoots at the press. The terse statement concerning Forbes has ignited a series of unforeseen consequences, including press scrutiny into the transparency of his listed vehicle, Kingdom Holding, and regulation of the Saudi stock market. Rather than firing off angry press statements in response to a magazine’s fact-checking questions, stay quiet, elusive, and…well, royal. Silence is golden – even if it is on a throne in a private jet.
To read the Forbes story click here: