Most of the clients we serve are basically interested in one of two things, getting into the news, or getting out if it. As we prepare them for pursuing these goals, we coach them by illustrating the roles of that make up nearly every news story today – that of victim, villain, and vindicator. We also place strong emphasis on the authenticity and believability associated with claiming these roles.
For any audience to be inspired by your message, they must believe it first. In advance of any interview, we establish a strategic objective and craft messages to support it. The goal (in softball, and combative exchanges) is to have a conversation and deliver messages that support your purpose, not just answer questions.
The recent interview by Oprah Winfrey with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle illustrates importance of understanding your role in a news story and demonstrates the centrality of being genuine in every exchange. Many conversations are currently underway about how believable the interview was, and many are perplexed how someone that seems to ‘have it all’ can be claiming the victim role.
Harry and Meghan are proving it is difficult (but not impossible) to portray yourself as a victim, when the perception is that you live in luxury. However, that is what these former Royal family members seem to be attempting to achieve – along with empathy. In the coming days critics and defenders alike will dissect their interview each taking away ample evidence to support their case.
Some will believe Markle is the villain pointing fingers and making accusations at the Royal family. The faultfinders will make the case that they are pressuring those across the pond to “pay up” and provide security, titles, and an allowance. The perception they took away from the interview is that Harry and Meghan are out of touch and selfish and have no idea about real world problems.
If pressuring the Royal family to consider further support is the objective, well-played – the heat seems to be on following the interview.
While critics will further seize on the price of Harry and Meghan’s home, a lucrative contract with Netflix, and many other opportunities that are unavailable to most people – the facts will never overcome the emotion and connection Harry and Meghan forged with viewers.
Markle especially identified with the audience in a powerful way. Struggles to fit in, issues with depression, thoughts of suicide, accusations of racism, and other family “drama” is something with which most people can identify – regardless of wealth or status.
If seeking understanding and empathy was the objective, again well-played – the message was received on a raw and emotional level.
At the end of all the discussions, what is still unanswered is what was the strategic objective of the interview in the first place? Until we understand what Harry and Meghan were attempting to achieve, we may never know if the rare Oprah exchange worked for them. However, the benefits of proving to the world that money cannot buy happiness, nor does status insulate you from drama and its associated headaches and breakdowns is a benefit that we may receive from the conversation.
Harry and Meghan may never understand the average struggles of the majority – but they do understand emotional pain, hurt, and disappointment. The lesson we can all take away here is that in messaging, communications strategy, and in life in general, empathy beats jealousy every time.
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