First, a confession: I have not read Spare and nor do I intend to however, it is nigh on impossible to ignore the wall to wall coverage the book has stimulated. The book and its contents are big news.

One clear theme that has emerged is that Harry holds the media responsible for many of the woes that have befallen him and his wife. It appears to me that part of his apparent desire to position himself as a victim is to blame the media and their coverage of him, and latterly his wife, in comparison to other royals.

Relations with the media are important for any organisation and can at times be challenging, but blaming the media will not solve any of your issues nor, in reality, win you many friends. It sounds too much like whining.

I have made it a rule in life not to pick fights I can’t win. Translating that into communications, reputation management and media relations, my advice to business is however tough things may be, don’t blame the media. It quite simply is a battle you will never win.

It is a key principle of crisis management that when you are up against it to keep communicating. However tempting it might be to put your corporate head in the sand, ignore the issue or simply say nothing hoping it will all go away, the reality is those strategies won’t work. 

What organisations cannot do is determine whether something is a story or not, nor can they tell the media what to write. What they can do is influence the story by being an active player and telling their own story in a compelling way. It is important that an organisations voice is heard and if they do that well then it is likely the news agenda moves on more quickly and they are better placed to protect their public reputation.

The aim for any organisation at the time of a crisis is to drive the media communications agenda rather than be reacting to it, but the tricky balance is to know at what point you have made your case, said all that you can and move on.

When the news is bad much coverage may be uncomfortable, an organisation may feel that the angle is unfair and it does feel very personal when it is your firm. For effective response it is important to focus on communicating key evidence based messages, to avoid creating more angles and adding fuel to the flames by blaming the media for your problems. The serenity prayer seems appropriate;

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Harry, take note.

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