The Crown is a huge hit on Netflix. With ten Emmy nominations 2021, the historical drama that follows the family and political relationships of the British crown reached its peak, so far, with the 4th season (2020). The 10 most recent episodes show the troubled marriage between Prince Charles and Lady Diana (perhaps the most awaited moment by fans). For journalists, what is peculiar about the series and has been repeated since the first season is the also troubled relationship between the British crown and the media. The same goes for the press office.
But what can you learn about the royal family and the British press? Here we list four important points from the series to take into the press work routine. Alert 1: here we analyze the issues exposed in the plot. We have not addressed whether the facts of the series are real or fictional. Alert 2: it contains spoilers.
1 - The danger of underhanded information
The Crown showed, in season 4, political differences between Queen Elizabeth II and the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (back then) on South Africa's apartheid - while the queen was in favor of sanctions on the country, the premiere was against it. This has always been denied by Buckingham Palace. But, at the time, British newspapers showed this divergence after an alleged source had underhanded the information to a journalist. The series shows that the source would be a royal adviser, who was fired.
The leak would have brought great dissatisfaction on the part of the prime minister. And this episode shows how much underhanded information can cause inconvenience, in addition to the need for a good press office to be activated as soon as possible. It is important to be alert to circumvent crises with leaks of confidential information. In short, underhand is not always undercover It is better to look for official ways of positioning.
2 - Good relationship with the press
Season 3 addressed, in a sequence of episodes, the discontent exposed in the press with the privileges of the British crown in the midst of the country's crisis in the 1970s. The solution found by Prince Philip was the making of a documentary about the supposed common life of royalty. The film yielded more negative reports, made in particular by the journalist John Armstrong. The reporter was called to interview Princess Anne, Charles' sister, in yet another attempt to improve the crown's image. He accepted the invitation, but the interviewee was Princess Alice, Philip's mother. The unexpected report gave the royal family good visibility, as it exposed Alice's suffering life.
The journalist had the scoop he needed. And the royal family gained the sympathy it so desperately wanted. This teaches how having good contacts and maintaining good relationships with the press can be decisive in mitigating crises.
3 - Always count on the unexpected
The Crown exposes how surprised Buckingham Palace can be by the media coverage after its decisions. In Season 1, the relationship between Princess Margaret and Pete Townshend and the couple's popularity caused discomfort. After all, the newly vested to the throne Queen Elizabeth and her husband Philip are supposed to be on the front pages of the newspapers. The same thing happened in Season 4, when the frenzy around Lady Diana took on unexpected proportions. The discomfort was accounted to Charles, the still-future king, staying out beside the princess on official trips.
While press coverage was positive for the series on both subjects, it was not quite what the royals had expected. A sign that institutional decisions were not quite right. What to do in this case? Public relations and press relations need to act fast to get the image fixed. The right message needs to be conveyed, without internal frictions being exposed. Something that was not always done by the Palace, according to the series.
4 - The press guides (and influences) the institutional
In season 2 of The Crown, an episode is marked by an editorial that criticizes the queen and calls for the modernization of the royal family. The text was composed by John Grigg, 2nd Baron of Altrincham. The editorial was followed by a TV interview on the subject. Despite causing astonishment for the crown, over time the notes were accepted by Queen Elizabeth who called Grigg to have a conversation. The sovereign queen accepted some of the suggestions. This shows that not always a press review can be seen with such amazement. The press staff and clients can take the best of what was said, adapt and show the changes. After all, being willing to improve is always a good sign. Something that goes well with the press and puts out fires.
Would you like to count on an assertive press office strategy? Here at MAVERICK 360 we have professionals able to outline the best strategy and make your business a reference in the market.
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MAVERICK 360 Journalist and Press Officer