A communications masterclass from Kensington Palace
On Monday 23rd April I was a little distracted from my writing. Over breakfast I saw on twitter that the Duchess of Cambridge had gone into labour. I became a slave to social media and the 24hr news channels. My refresh button has never been used so much! I found it difficult to concentrate until the baby was safely back at home.
From the moment the well-oiled communications machine of Kensington Palace kicked in to send that first tweet around 8am, as events unfolded we were treated to a comms masterclass.
When you have a big announcement to share it’s very important to get the communications right. Nobody remembers average. We all remember when things go wrong, but also when we experience excellence. The Royal Baby announcement was a fine example of the latter.
Every business or organisation needs a carefully planned and coordinated communications approach to big news. So if you’re planning a product launch, rebrand, organising an event or planning an important announcement, here are some tips to takeaway.
1. The parking notice
We got an indication of the imminent arrival of the Royal Baby in early April when notices were placed outside the entrance to the Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital. This created much excitement amongst Royal enthusiasts and, of course, the world’s media. There followed plenty of fresh speculation about what date the baby would arrive and prompted the public to start camping outside.
Think about how you can build excitement around your announcement, perhaps drip feed snippets of information. TV channels do this really well when trailing programmes. Who’s seen the trailer for the final Car Share episodes and can’t wait to watch more?
2. The first tweet
On Monday morning, Kensington Palace announced via a single tweet that the Duchess of Cambridge was in labour and had been taken to hospital. Cue a frenzy of journalists and an excited public stationed outside the Lindo Wing.
It’s highly unlikely that one tweet from your small business will ever have the same impact, nor would you want it to. It’s impossible to reply personally to thousands of people who engage with a tweet. The lesson to take away is about clarity of message. The tweet is clear, concise, and tells you all the information you need to know at that point in time. Keep it simple.
3. The Town Crier and the official written announcement
When the news came through that the Royal Prince had arrived, a traditional announcement was placed on an easel in the grounds of Buckingham Palace. A local Town Crier followed this with a performance on the steps of the hospital. By then, we all knew the baby’s time of birth, weight and gender. These quintessentially British touches just added to the sense of occasion.
Thanks to digital marketing and communications, you have a raft of different channels to choose from for announcements to your customers. Despite this, I still believe there is a place for more traditional methods of communication. By all means send an email to make your announcement, but why not also send a personal letter or invite from a senior member of your team, with a handwritten greeting and signature. It’s a classy touch.
4. The siblings’ visit
Watching shy Prince George and cheeky Princess Charlotte working the crowd with her cute wave was a joy to behold. Their visit to meet their younger brother was brief but carefully choreographed and a wonderful way of sating the media and the public who were waiting patiently for the big reveal.
There are a couple of key lessons here. The first is to incorporate regular and consistent activity into your communications plan. The second is to always leave your public wanting more. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched that clip of Princess Charlotte waving - and I still want more.
5. The photo opportunity
It was the moment we were all waiting for. The Baby Prince, just hours old, is introduced to the world by his parents for their very first public photograph together. The pictures are beamed across the world on television and shared on social media. Kensington Palace’s post is re-tweeted more than 20,000 times on twitter.
Encourage sharing. Use a hashtag for your event or announcement and ask people to use it in their pictures or posts. Make sure you document the day with photographs and/or video. Keep sharing key pieces of information on social media and other channels and continue to use the same messaging, hashtag, videos and images to keep your message front of mind.
6. The name announcement
Finally, after five days’ waiting, Kensington Palace officially announce the baby’s name as Prince Louis Arthur Charles. The public is happy (bookies maybe not so much) and the media finally move on to the next story and leave the newest member of the family to settle in. You can rest assured, as soon as Prince Louis makes his first official appearance, the photographers will be back for more!
This is the hook that leaves you hanging. You might do your big reveal by way of an announcement or event, but how will you follow up and keep people engaged in your plans? Consider holding some information back to release at a later date, perhaps booking information for the next step, a summary of your announcement or slide presentations from your event.
If you'd like any help with comms planning for your own business, please don't hesitate to get in touch.
Thanks to the expert communicators at Kensington Palace, and of course little Prince Louis, for inspiring this blog post!