Royal Baby Gives Royal Boost to UK

royal baby 150x150 Royal Baby Gives Royal Boost to UK

The PR Verdict: “A” (PR Perfect) for the new prince’s effect on UK economy.

Economy ailing? Country need a financial boost? Just get your beloved monarchs to give birth to a future king. That’s exactly what Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge did for the United Kingdom when a new prince was born.

Though at press time the baby was still unnamed, the financial figures from the birth of His Royal Highness were already in. The Center for Retail Research estimated that Royal Baby Watchers would spend upward of $420 million in celebration over the birth of the third in line for the throne. There was a boost in visitors to London, not least of which from the media, camped out for weeks to get shots of the royal trip to the hospital and the first photos of the future queen or, as it turned out, king. Commemorative merchandise was for sale, along with donuts iced with baby footprints, and, of course, a lot of alcohol for toasting.

This boost in economy is yet another part of the re-branding, if you will, of the monarchy. In the past, Britain’s royals have struggled with scandal, but recently that has changed. William bucked Buckingham to marry his choice and when Kate was caught topless by paparazzi, the verdict was shame on the magazines that ran the snaps. Now, a baby brings glad tidings during an ongoing worldwide recession. The royals are on a roll.

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR Perfect) for William, Kate, and the UK’s warm, PR-savvy welcome to the royal baby.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Accentuate the positive. In a time of a struggling economy, good news – from any source – is always welcome. The British Royals have always grabbed the headlines, occasionally like some sort of reality show meets romance novel. William and Kate are playing their PR cards well. It’s called making hay while the son – sorry! – shines.

Yet Another Bieber Blooper

 Yet Another Bieber Blooper

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for the Justin Bieber.

Teenage pop idol Justin Bieber caught the full wrath of the Internet this week during a visit to Amsterdam. The Canadian superstar, currently on tour in Europe, visited the Anne Frank House to view the tiny attic where Frank and her family hid for two years from the Nazis before being discovered and sent to death camps. Writing in the guest book, Bieber said the visit was “truly inspiring” and that he hoped Anne would have been “a Belieber,” the moniker given to his fans. Frankly, no one could “beliebe” he left the narcissistic scribble; as UK site Sugarscape put it, “The world smacks their hands to their foreheads.”

The gaffe follows months of questionable behavior for the young singer: showing up late to concerts or canceling, fainting at a London appearance, purportedly smoking marijuana at a party, scuffling with the paparazzi, and allegedly spitting at a neighbor.

The antics have begun to take a toll on the Bieber Brand, with media speculating that Biebs is on the verge of a Britney Spears-esque meltdown. Polls suggest his likability factor is suffering: teens are finding him less attractive, and parents are seeing him as “rude.” The clean image that helped launch Bieber’s successful career is starting to look rather sullied.

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for the Justin Bieber. He hasn’t lost any sponsors yet, but more bad-boy behavior could change that.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: It’s not easy being a teen, even less easy being a teen brand. The transition from adolescent to young adult seems to be one of the rockiest roads for celebrities, and one need only read up on the cautionary tales of Spears, Miley Cyrus, and Lindsay Lohan for guidance on what not to do during this unpredictable time. Just as parents must do for their unruly offspring, Bieber’s handlers need to keep the lines of communication open with their young star and stress that the consequences of his actions will become more serious as he ages. There’s more to lose than celebrity status; Justin can beliebe that.

Italy’s Five Star Movement Wins; Now What?

 Italys Five Star Movement Wins; Now What?

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for Italy’s Beppe Grillo.

What happens when the anti-establishment becomes part of the establishment? That’s the question Italians are asking themselves as an overwhelming 25 percent voted for the grassroots Five Star Movement (M5S) last weekend. A party of “political outsiders,” its elected parliamentary representatives define themselves by everything typical parliamentarians are not – at least, not in Italy. Namely? Young and honest.

In only three years, M5S has become a political steamroller. Without deep financial pockets, momentum has come from tireless rants and the pungent humor of the party’s leader Beppe Grillo. A former comedian, he amassed political capital with his unmatched rhetoric, winning the hearts and minds of disgruntled Italians who continue to despair at their deeply dysfunctional political system. His main achievement seems to be giving ordinary Italians a chance to vent their frustration and rage peacefully.

Now, poor Beppe is caught in a classic communications dilemma. Remaining true to brand means categorically refusing alliances with any established political force and continuing to win the crowds by criticizing established politicians and cracking jokes. The “outsider approach” might win votes, but it won’t help the country out of a dire economic crisis. With the “Grillo” brand being the anthesisis of sober statesmanship, it might be time for his M5S to think about a rebrand for the party and its leader.

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for Beppe Grillo. A different style (and a different spokesperson) may be what is needed.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Brand evolution changes with circumstances. Grillo’s stated goal was to give Italian citizens the power to change their own country, but everyone understands this is a long haul – and an unpopular journey. While Grillo did not run for office himself, his M5S has won a seat at the table. With doubts persisting about the party’s ability to effect any real change, the best way to reassure their supporters is to take on the mantle of serious politicians promising to get things done. Coming across as rebels, comics, victims, or dreamers won’t cut it any longer, but speaking in a different tone and style will. Less jokes and rage and more substance will transition the party (and its leader) into the power role they have been handed. Beppe Grillo, as the leader and spokesperson, might want to start the change from the top.

 

David Cameron’s Great Expectations

 David Camerons Great Expectations

The PR Verdict: “D” (PR Problematic) for British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Last week, British Prime Minister David Cameron delivered a speech promising to hold a referendum on Britain’s future in the EU by 2017. By then, he said, his government would be able to work with its European partners on reforms towards his vision of a better EU – in his words, more flexible, more adaptable, more open. At that point, he proposed, Brits should decide to stay in or get out.

The speech itself was direct, upfront, thoughtful, and inclusive.  It was passionate where appropriate, describing the UK approach as “practical rather than emotional.” There were concessions for every interest group: sufficient criticism to please at home, but nothing so deeply offensive as to justify open outrage by powerful partners abroad. No obvious blunders, no mistakes; just smart speechwriting at its best.

Although debatable that the “EU issue” was  top-of-mind for British people, they will now rightly expect their government to get it resolved. Was Cameron’s tactic to appease the conservative UK press and the euro-sceptics in his own party? If so, did it buy him time to focus on more important issues, or has he seriously jeopardized his political future? From a communications perspective, he opened up not one but many Pandora’s boxes and inspired a myriad of expectations. Was this the intention?

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for David Cameron. Be wary of creating expectations that you may not want to meet.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Only promise what you can deliver. Communicating always involves creating and managing expectations, and in complex situations, different stakeholders’ expectations inevitably diverge. Even if the public pressure is almost unbearable (and it seems it wasn’t in this case) controversy is almost never resolved by creating new expectations. When you can’t control expecations and aren’t certain of the outcome, then it’s usually the most vocal who demand their stance be taken. This is one speech Cameron may come to regret.

 

 

 

The 5 Toughest PR Assignments of 2013

This week, we’ve been looking back over some of the more challenging moments in public relations, yet they seem simple in comparison to the PR assignments for 2013. We invite our readers to pitch strategies for the following assignments; any takers?

 The 5 Toughest PR Assignments of 2013DEFENDING THE NRA: With the Newtown killings, American public opinion appears to have reached the proverbial tipping point. Public discourse now is less about freedom and the constitutional right to bear arms and more about child safety and the appalling level of gun deaths in the world’s largest and most modern society. With over 10,000 gun-related deaths a year, this PR brief is going to need some very creative thinking. The well-worn PR positioning that an armed society is a polite society won’t cut it – nor will the old saw that “guns don’t kill people.”

 

 

 The 5 Toughest PR Assignments of 2013REBEKAH BROOKS’S IMAGE REHAB: With Rebekah Brooks standing trial along with a number of other Murdoch employees in 2013, on multiple charges including attempting to pervert the course of justice, getting her image right will be job for Super PR. Continuing to claim that she was blissfully unaware of phone hacking won’t work, as her employer has already compensated numerous victims; her previous protests of innocence will come unstuck if the jury fails to be won over. If that happens, many other questions will be raised about what has been said previously by Murdoch management. Some elegant backtracking may be required; just saying.

 

 

 The 5 Toughest PR Assignments of 2013MAKE WALL STREET LOVEABLE: Liborgate, money laundering, financial fraud, trading losses… Making the public like, or even tolerate, the world’s leading investment banks is a constant uphill battle. Just as Wall Street thought it was over the worst, it has been newly dragged into fresh cesspools of scandal and vice. A PR offensive will be needed to fight its corner, resisting calls for reduced bonuses and reining in a risk-taking culture. Given the latest scandals, this is one campaign likely to fall on deaf ears. Good luck.

 

 

 The 5 Toughest PR Assignments of 2013AUSTERITY IS GOOD FOR YOU: No one likes being poor, whether government or private citizens. Europe has been told repeatedly that swallowing the equivalent of castor oil is for the greater good, but national patience with “slash and burn” economics is thin to nil. The stagnant economy and economic hardships look set to continue; four years after the financial crisis, European countries are still languishing. If the prescribed medicine continues, it will need some better PR sugar.

 

 

 The 5 Toughest PR Assignments of 2013ANNA WINTOUR FOR SECRETARY OF STATE:  The current editor of US Vogue is rumored to be a potential US ambassador to France, or her home country, the UK. A powerful Democratic fund-raiser, the appointment of Wintour, not a politician, would not be without precedent – just look at Pamela Harriman. Wintour’s supporters say she’d find the job “dull”; pal Oscar de la Renta suggested the ONLY official office that would suit Wintour would be Secretary of State. If that’s the case, Anna will need some clever PR to get through the rigorous approval hearings. Our humble PR tip?  Start by removing the sunglasses when indoors.

 

We at the PRV wish our readers a happy holiday season.

We will be back on 7 January 2013. Happy New Year!