Prince Harry’s highly-anticipated memoir “Spare,” was released on January 10th and quickly became the fastest-selling non-fiction book ever on the day of its release, making it a huge commercial success. But has it been a PR success?
Harry and his wife Meghan Markle are clearly in the midst of a carefully timed and executed public relations campaign. The blitz began with the release of their six-part Netflix documentary on December 8th, followed by Harry’s book launch one month later and a barrage of interviews that aired both in the U.S. and U.K.
Harry’s personal accounts of intimate conversations and events have given the media, tabloids and commentators a lot to chew on. It has sent the British royal family into buttoned-up crisis protocol and, interestingly — Harry and Meghan into plummeting popularity.
And while there are endless details to examine here, let’s focus on one: recovering from a negative press cycle.
The book is a #1 best-seller in both America and Britain, but the reception has been less than positive. Newsweek said, “The More Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Say, the Less Americans Like Them,” …while the Daily Mail’s front page one morning read, “Oh Spare Us.”
From a PR perspective, these headlines indicate it’s time to shift gears. As we often teach in media training: state your core message and then stop.
Harry is intently focused on reclaiming his narrative, but the more appearances he makes, the more he explains himself — and as the famous adage goes, “If you’re explaining, you’re losing.”
Everyone in the world is aware the book is on sale; he doesn’t need to promote it any further — and now the tone has shifted to bitter and defensive.
A smart move would be to take some time out of the press; let the negative headlines hit the recycle bin. His next project should be a positive one: looking forward and showing what he’s learned from his experiences.
Recovering from negative press doesn’t happen overnight, but slowing down and being mindful about your next steps can make all the difference in repairing a bruised reputation.