Media: Pitch

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The Independent Culture
Jonathan Shore, head of corporate PR, Cohn and Wolfe

THE FIRST thing for them to do is not to over-react by being too populist. If they try and ingratiate themselves through overtly populist measures, like going on Des O'Connor or bungee-jumping on Don't Try This At Home, it will turn them into celebrities, which royalty is not. And the problem with celebrity is that it has a shelf-life. If, instead, you look at playing the long game - which hasn't done the Queen Mother any harm - and let people assemble their own opinions, a positive message begins to come across.

The second part is about showing sensitivity to tone. The Royals are a bunch of people who are as functional or dysfunctional as anybody else in society, but what hasn't been forthcoming so far is any implicit, let alone explicit, acknowledgement of this. An example of this insensitivity to tone is their refusal to fly the flag at half mast after Diana's death; sometimes they just take the old Admiral Nelson "never apologise, never explain" line, but they have to appreciate that in the current media environment there's sometimes a need for explanation. A very good example of that might have been setting out their perspective on taking the Princes William and Harry to church after Diana's death, which they were enormously criticised for. There's also the way in which they address things like the issue of whether they're value for money: these days they need somebody to provide a subtext.

The third thing for them to do is take a decision on exactly what profile a PR secretary will have in their own right. The press are going to draw them out: look at Alistair Campbell, who's beginning to be bigger news than some of things he's meant to be communicating. Also, we've had indications that the family might be moving towards a more formal style of communication - press conferences - which cameras might be allowed in to, but I think that provides another target for the media to have a pot shot at.

My final point is about cracking the internal audience. PR people are always appointed for two reasons, one of which is a bit depressing - applying a bit of spit and polish to decisions that have already been taken. The second is grounding the clients in the implication of their actions. PR at its best is about letting some fresh air into boardrooms, or palaces, and actually saying: "You have to change the way you do certain things, because they're not playing effectively."

Jack Stephens, copywriter, Leo Burnett

WHAT I would ask myself is who we are talking to. If you divided Britain up into three groups, you'd have the core users (people who love the Royals), the core non-users (people who hate the Royals) and a lot of people who are indifferent. It's the people who are indifferent that you need to spend your money talking to. I think the Royals' survival is in danger from these indifferent people.

The tack I would take is to give people a bunch of reasons why the Royal family is an essential part of Britain. I think it's the main focus of the British national identity. Pretty much every day there's some gossip surrounding the Royal family in the papers, and I think you've got to counteract all that with some hard information about what they do for the country, wrapped in a nice way. I'd highlight factual information, like the fact that the Americans and Canadians alone spent pounds 3.7 billion dollars in Britain last year; one of Britain's biggest tourist attractions is the Royal family. The Royal family only costs pounds 55 million a year to keep going, so what they generate far outweighs their cost. The area I'd work around is that they "do the business" for Britain.

You'd have to use a broadcast medium, to get to the same amount of people that read the Sun every day. But, because there's no huge urgency surrounding the Royal family - it's not as if you're launching a brand and have only got a short time to get it off the ground - you could probably get away with doing about one TV ad a year, slowly giving people these rational reasons why they're relevant to today's society. There's relevance to tourism, and tourism is relevant to everyone in the UK.

I think the family has got to streamline itself but the core members (the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles) have a brand personality that a business would die for. You might say they're the brand identity of Britain: ask any American what they'd give to have a Royal family.