Written By:

Kristen Kauffman



Kristen Kauffman

March 22, 2024

Navigating Crisis Communication: Lessons from the Kate Middleton Photo Controversy

Anyone who does crisis communications knows it can be hard for a client to sit on their hands when their brand is being torched on social – even when a minimal (or no) response is the right thing to do. The recent kerfuffle over a doctored photo of the “missing” Kate Middleton is a great example of why it’s so important to be patient during a crisis.

As you probably know, rumors have been swirling about the princess’ health after surgery in January, though the royal family announced she would not resume her duties until after Easter.

Enough said, right? It’s not Easter yet, and as promised, we have not seen her publicly.

But perhaps all the theories on Kate’s health became too much to bear, or maybe the palace just wanted to share something positive, but they sent out the photo and it royally (sorry!) backfired. The fact that the image was so manipulated that media refused to run it has poured fuel on the fire, spurring further speculation that Kate is seriously unwell.

The lessons for crisis communicators here are:
– Stay on message
– Don’t feel you have to keep talking just because others are talking
– Accept that not engaging further may be uncomfortable in the short term

And, obviously, never send a doctored photo to prove a point.