Much like his Hans Christian Anderson story tale Emperor counterpart, it isn’t a stretch to think that Prince Andrew has relied on significant waves of unrealistic and ill informed sound echoes to lead him to take part in one of the worst PR tactics since …well possibly the last royal family ‘reveal all’ interviews a few decades ago.
Oprah set the standard for providing a platform for those in the public eye to bare their souls and seek redemption - from the audience if no-one else.
It’s Comms 101 to fall on your sword if an individual or organisation crosses boundaries that may affect their key audiences - especially in the commercial or political world where the will of the people can have far reaching consequences to your continued success or otherwise.
Conversely if you or your organisation are innocent and beyond reproach then a strong stand being taken to demonstrate innocence is another valid ‘ tool’.
However, it’s not quite so clear cut if you have difficulty in being able to clarify the facts.
To participate in the court of public opinion, you need to have a clear position of what you are wanting to achieve out of this very public baring of the soul. You also need to be contrite ( if guilty) as that is what the greater public expects - even though many could ill afford to have the same introspection of their own lives.
Prince Andrew did not appear to have any clear idea of what was to be gained from this excruciating interview - or if he did, he went wildly off script. He was also nowhere near as contrite as the common man ( or woman) would expect - and this is critical. In fact one of the commentators hit the right note when he said the interviewee was,” entitled, obtuse and shamefully unapologetic to victims”. Again 101 stuff - always be relatable and express sympathy for those affected whether claiming responsibility or not.
So instead of drawing the sought after line under the months of what must be excruciating media spotlight, this interview appears to have done quite the opposite. It will continue to create content and damage, far beyond the real public interest.
It’s always a tough call to advise clients in situations as high profile and incendiary as this involving power, illegal activity, royalty, sex and scandal but this was truly a poor call.
I struggle to see what mitigating factors could have been put forward to make the decision to go ahead with the interview. The Emperors Clothes have now been seen by all for what they really are.
Oprah has a lot to answer for. It looks increasingly like Prince Andrew does too.
For more, this is an interesting insight from the UK's Guardian