Learning from the Royal Family Response

Three things that happen in a crisis

Since Meghan Markle and Prince Harry first announced their engagement in November 2017, audiences have been speculating as to every aspect of the upcoming nuptials planned for Saturday, May 19.

Media reports have detailed their best guesses on everything from the cake and flowers to the much-anticipated dress and guest list. This week, the latest question is: who will walk Meghan down the aisle?

Meghan’s tumultuous relationship with her family has been widely reported, so when it was announced on Monday that her father would not be attending the Royal Wedding, it became the news of the day.

Kensington Palace has yet to confirm whether the news is true or not, but did release a brief statement confirming this is a “deeply personal moment” and the couple ask for “understanding and respect” in this difficult situation.

Bad news doesn’t go away nor get better if it is ignored; rather, it often gets worse over time and stories grow bigger when reporters have to dig them out. 

While you may not be a member of the Royal Family, here are three things we can learn from their response – or lack there of.

1)    In the absence of information, rumors will fly.

While the Royal Family rarely confirms news apart from weddings and babies, since they have not addressed the issue fully, media will likely continue to set the narrative.

When a crisis hits, it is easy to be defined by others. You can control your brand and your destiny by controlling your message. When a crisis hits, own how you are being defined, rather than letting others – with an agenda – define you.

2)    Curve balls will be thrown your way.

If reports are true, Meghan and Kensington Palace were blindsided by her father’s announcement that he would be absent from the big day.

Organizational crises can morph from one day to the next due to new information or public response. As such, there will likely be things you don’t know at the beginning. Therefore, an organization must be continually seeking the truth and be ready to pivot the communications strategy as new information dictates.

3)    There is always more to the story than the public knows.

As the statement from Kensington Palace said, this is a private matter. There are likely many dynamics and decisions happening behind the scenes that we will never know.

In a crisis situation, organizational leaders know the full scope of the situation, but that doesn’t mean the organization should – or can – share every piece of information with the world. Much like seeing the tip of the iceberg is no indication of its size, there are times when there is much going on behind the scenes that simply cannot be shared. This could be because it is a human relations or medical issue protected by confidentiality laws or simply a very intimate matter requiring personal privacy. As such, organizational leaders must determine what information to share with whom and when.

Managing a crisis requires wisdom, careful calculation and continual flexibility. Having a trusted team to offer guidance and walk through the situation with you can help an organization navigate the situation and come out on the other side.