A few years ago, I saw a TV documentary about Monaco. Prince Albert was interviewed for it and the aim was to show the world that Monaco had more to offer than just being the playground of the rich.
One of the segments which stood out for me was a big event hosted by the Royal family to which they invited social media influencers, YouTubers and people from ‘new media’ The aim here was to reach younger people who rarely watched traditional television or the news.
I thought it was quite a savvy, forward thinking idea from the Prince to engage a new generation. It was good PR, but it also made business sense.
The idea was not to everyone’s taste. Social media can be very toxic and some influencers are problematic. In addition, can be biased and flaky.
I know that in the movie world, reporters from traditional media can get annoyed when some 19-year-old YouTuber who knows little about film gets a red carpet pass when they and their media outlet can’t.
I understand that concern and I have with it. I too have come across some shockingly uninformed influencers when covering movie events.
But there’s no denying, many have very large audiences and can reach them in ways newspapers and television can’t.
I also keep thinking about the Monaco documentary.
The fact is, social media is here to stay and it is powerful. Only yesterday I was speaking to a well-known fashion brand which is now turning to influencers to promote their products where once they relied entirely on magazines.
I wonder whether it’s time now for the British royal family to look at a wider media canvas to report on their public appearances, work and tours.
Last year I wrote about the reporting of the Caribbean tour undertaken by the Prince and Princess of Wales. On the ground, it was enormously successful. However, due to certain media coverage it is now, sometimes, referred to as a ‘controversial’ or ‘troubled’ tour.
I understand that drama sells. I understand that with 24/7 media, there has to constant new content, constant drama, constant controversy.
But the British Royals are also at the top of the list of public figures who get media outlets the most ‘clicks.’ so, the media needs them as much as they need the media.
The recent Royal tour of Germany was a huge success for King Charles lll and Queen Camilla. Thousands of Germans turned out to see them and cheer them on.
The coverage of this tour was good and positive. It really couldn’t be otherwise because the Germans laid on a tremendous welcome, both at the official level and from the public.
Within the UK, too, wherever the new king and queen, travel, large crowds turn out to cheer them. This may surprise those in the media who thought King Charles would not be popular.
Today I saw some reports of the King and queen’s visit to York Cathedral for Maundy Thursday.
I saw footage of hundreds of cheering people who had waited hours to catch a glimpse of the royal couple. However, some reports focused on the handful of protesters who have started turning up at Royal events with fluorescent banners. Their cries of ‘not my King’ are immediately drowned out by boos from the much louder crowd who usually start shouting or singing. God save the King. I suppose, it makes for more of a story to say ‘the king was met with protests’. But it’s misleading to focus on it.
I find that some of the best coverage of Royal events now from Royal watchers on social media. Whilst they are, obviously, biased in favour of the royal family, and the monarchy, they do tend to have the most interesting takes on Royal stories. They are knowledgeable, funny and just interesting in what they cover.
On the evening the death of Queen Elizabeth was announced, I went to Buckingham Palace. It was a cold September night with heavy rain. I got out at Green Park tube station. The park was rammed full of people heading to the palace. Once outside the palace itself, I saw that almost the entire crowd of many thousands was made up of young people (older people came in the days that followed). Many were carrying union jacks and singing. God save the Queen. It was a very moving experience. Yet, at the same time, a few mainstream journalists, sitting at home, were tweeting that the crowds weren’t as big as expected. Fortunately, those of us who were actually there corrected them.
The media landscape has changed dramatically in the past decade. So, I wonder whether the media office for the Royal family should now consider giving some designated media spots, at royal visits and events to people outside traditional media. Whether it’s bloggers or vloggers, there is room in the vast, global coverage of the Royals for some fresh perspectives.
I don’t suggest that reporting about the Royals should be sycophantic or gushing. But it should give a full picture and independent viewpoints from the public.