What we as PR’s do when our “material” is failing us? It’s relatively easy if we are speaking a minor software bug, but when it is a real catastrophe and the material keeps stumbling – what do we do? Do we walk away in order for us to keep our professional integrity? Or is it professional integrity to stay and to try to turn the ship around?
Just a short personal recapitulation for those amongst my readers that don’t read Swedish. And now I’m looking back only the past couple of years: the Royal Princess married her personal trainer. A step that would have been OK if she had been, say Madonna earning her own money. But this is is a Royal Princess, a future Queen, living off Swedish tax payer’s money. During the run up to the wedding there was a flurry of media exposure of the family. Now, the current Queen is German/Brazilian and there have always been whispers about possible Nazi ties in her family. During the second world-war her father ran a small factory producing gas-masks because as she said “People were afraid of gas.” She had a point, there were lot’s of people being afraid of a gas during the second world war. The future Royal couple well, it was pitiful but at least they looked happy. From there we went to on to a book about the King that actually brought the Monarchy to the brink of an abdication. It portrayed the king in a none too flattering light: prostitutes, dealings with local Mafia representatives, mistresses… it read like something out of Hollywood. To settle the matters after months of uproar the King – following his media advisor’s advice – was interviewed on national TV. Embarrassing doesn’t begin to describe it – think lamb being led to the slaughter. Then there is the two youngest, a prince and a princess. Now they don’t work for their money to put it mildly.
Past summer Swedish citizen’s patience erupted and as the result is see a PR campaign being set in motion, suddenly the pages – not only the tabloids mind you – were flooded with information on the younger sibling’s private fortunes, and that whatever job they were doing it was partly sponsored by their own monies. Only their actions speak against them, if they don’t need Swedish tax payer’s money to sustain them, why don’t they resign their appanage and live of their own proceeds? In fact what they should do is to resign from the Royal House and to become high-flying civilians, it would help to save the Royal House and they will still be a part of the royal family.
And there is more, the princess lives full-time in New York and is said to be working for the Swedish Monarchy from there. How? No one can answer that question. The Prince is jet-setting the globe as an emissary for preserving the nature. How is this serving the Swedish Crown? No one knows. For me, when royals travel it’s part of a trade mission, but this isn’t a trade mission. But this is PR, and bad PR at that.
So either the “material” isn’t good enough, or their advisers are not doing their job. Or a combination of both.
So back to my initial question, what do we do when our “material” is failing us? Walk away? Try to turn the boat around? Try to turn the boat around and then walk away saying “I tried.”