Your January PR crisis round-up: Prince Harry, The Apprentice and a hacker’s apology

A royal mess

2023 is shaping up to be a bad year for the UK royal family. Prince Harry’s memoir ‘Spare’ has thrown the monarchy into the worst crisis since the 1990s, according to newspaper reports. Even ahead of its official sale date, the book was topping the Amazon sales charts.

It could backfire horribly on Harry, though. His serious allegations of racism against the royal family and the UK media are important and need addressing, and they’re being lost among sensationalist stories of how he lost his virginity, took drugs and fought with his brother (do we care about any of that stuff?). Declaring how many people he killed in Afghanistan has drawn criticism both from the UK military and the Taliban.

All this book will do is further polarise people’s opinions of a man who could have been central to an important discussion about modernising the monarchy and tackling institutional racism. Instead, it’s fuelling the sensationalist media he has always hated.

The royal family has a long tradition of not commenting on public issues, and right now, keeping quiet seems the only sensible response.

‘Tone deaf’ Apprentice jaunt

Stars of ‘The Apprentice’ jetted off to the beaches of Antigua for their first task of the new series, and people aren’t happy about it. They might have been tasked with creating a ‘value’ tour, but this was seen as a tone-deaf move during a cost of living crisis.

The lesson? Always look at what you’re doing within a wider economic and societal context.

Hackers with a heart

We all know it’s important to say sorry when you’ve got something wrong. Even if you’re a criminal group who’s hacked into a children’s hospital.

A ransomware group called ‘LockBit’ apologised after one of its affiliates launched a ransomware attack on Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, resulting in delays to treatment and test results for patients. LockBit said the affiliate had violated its rules, and apologised for the attack, giving the hospital a decryptor for free. It’s policy (yes, LockBit has a full set of policies on these things) says: "It is forbidden to encrypt institutions where damage to the files could lead to death, such as cardiology centers, neurosurgical departments, maternity hospitals and the like, that is, those institutions where surgical procedures on high-tech equipment using computers may be performed."

Even hackers have a reputation to manage.

Article written by Kate Hartley, co-founder of crisis simulation company Polpeo, and author of ‘Communicate in a Crisis

If you enjoyed this article, you can subscribe for free to our twice weekly event and subscriber alerts.

Currently, every new subscriber will receive three of our favourite reports about the public relations sector.


ESG Awards Winners SUBSCRIBE NOW PRCA CIPR