- A personal view not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. 2. The views of people in general. 3. An estimate of quality or worth. 4. A formal statement of advice by an expert or professional.
We all hold opinions on a range of issues and subjects affecting our lives and others’ – from those that are seemingly trivial, like whether we think Marmite and peanut butter is a match made in heaven or should be avoided by anyone with tastebuds (I’m pro, for what it’s worth), to weightier ones relating to areas like politics and ethics.
While we are all entitled to hold these opinions, the question is are we always entitled to share them? And if we feel compelled to air our views, when, where and how is it appropriate to do so?
The emergence of the internet and social media has certainly made it easier for everyone to have their say on any subject. Individuals can broadcast their personal view on the way someone has behaved or state their expert opinion about a matter in the public interest in seconds. Certain individuals have even made careers from stating opinions.
Increasingly, organisations and businesses are also using these platforms to share their views on a subject, or state their position on a highlighted issue. In some cases, there’s an obvious or urgent reason why a statement must be made, but in others where it’s not, an expressed opinion could be taken the wrong way and even have a damaging effect on the organisation and those associated with it.
The recent death of HRH Prince Philip has thrown up some interesting areas of debate around when, where and how individuals and organisations should comment, or express views on a matter of interest.
There was an obvious outpouring of grief from around the world from heads of state, organisations, businesses and individuals. Many chose to pay tribute to the role the Duke of Edinburgh played in public life, his support of charities and extend their condolences to the Queen.
Among those with a republican-leaning, there were a few who chose not to share in the collective grief and instead use the Prince’s death to highlight their negative view, others – despite their thoughts on the monarchy – took a respectful stance, sending well-wishes to a family who had lost a loved one, while a few kept with the adage ‘if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’.
The most interesting though were the ways The Duke of Edinburgh’s grandsons – William and Harry – decided to publicly announce their feelings about the death of their grandfather.
Prince Harry drew criticism for releasing a statement via the Archewell Foundation – the organisation he founded with the Duchess of Sussex – before backing it up with a more personal reflection.
Prince William’s statement, meanwhile, was published through the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s social media accounts, but even this was criticised for failing to be emotive enough and for its brevity.
The example throws up the questions, ‘is it best to state an opinion via a personal social media account, or through an organisation?’ and ‘how do you approach something so sensitive?’ a quandary often faced by individuals leading an organisation who have strong views or need to comment on a pertinent issue.
There is no right or wrong way to react to an emotive subject such as the death of a family member, even one with such a high profile, but the examples demonstrated by the Princes certainly prove that stating opinions and commenting on matters of interest is a nuanced business.
Seeking help to gauge whether an opinion needs to be made by a high–profile individual, or an organisation for whatever reason, or have someone prompt you to comment on a hot topic, can be a positive step to protect the reputation and ensure future opinions of you and/or your organisation are not negative ones.
Having experts on hand to guide messaging, show when, where and how it is appropriate to react or take a proactive stance, can help you make the right decisions and avoid any repercussions.
As experts in hospitality marketing and PR, we can support you and your business with your reputation management and developing a results-driven PR strategy. Contact the Custard team for more information.