Any event soaks up the time of a busy communications lead. But make it a royal wedding and you have just multiplied it by 10 or even 20.
by Louisa Dean
Last November Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle announced that they were getting married in Windsor. I have to admit, I did scream with excitement when I heard the news but then realised the enormity of the event and felt very sick! This was massive, there was going to be a shed load of work, stress and pressure. But if we got it right - a lot of fun.
So we had to be clear on what we were going to do and how we are going to deliver it.
1. Set clear objectives and make sure you deliver on them
Our objectives were:
- Ensure that HRH Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle have a successful wedding by providing excellent community services that enable successful event management
- Show Windsor in the best light to world as there will be local, national and international media as well as potential tourists watching the televised event
- Maximising opportunities before, during and after the Royal Wedding to ensure that we draw tourists and businesses to the town and the wider borough.
Sounds easy and it was straight forward but we did enhance our messaging. We focused a lot on planning your journey and booking car parking in advance as well as providing information about entertainment on the day, bunting produced by schoolchildren and footfall increase to Windsor. And we did a lot of work with foreign media before the event to promote the town. But we did follow those objectives.
2. Things happen - plan the worse (thankfully it didn’t happen but we were ready)
We did plan for the worse and the scenarios were quite frankly terrifying but we had to make sure we were clear what we would do if things went wrong. Nothing went wrong but we had involved partners to make sure we were all clear about who was responsible for each area. And areas that we could influence like planning your journey and booking your parking, we did. There was a lot of content which was shared by partners, local government and central government.
3. Social media rules but get the tone right
Social media definitely worked and was key in the build-up. The media shared our messages as well as a lot of lovely local government comms officers - thank you! One of the learnings was that you can never tweet too much but also be human. Our most engaged tweet was about the bridesmaids and the pageboys looking cute - don’t tell anyone but we wrote that a week before the event.
We tweeted every four minutes from 6am until 7pm and got 700k impressions on the day - not surprisingly the most in the history of our twitter account. And during the week before the wedding we had 1.2million impressions on our twitter feed.
4. This kind of event is big, very big
We had a lot of stats and we all know the media love stats. The stats were impressive and when you look at them you realise the scale and enormity of the event.
68 food vendors.
13 tonnes of waste collected by a team of 80 waste collectors from Urbaser and Veolia
1,000 tonnes of material was used to resurface town centre roads covering the equivalent area of two football pitches.
5. Don’t forget about the next day
We had put a lot of focus into the wedding but we still needed to show the clean-up. We managed to get photos out on social media but the press release went on Monday and probably missed a trick there.
6. Work with partners
I spent a lot of time working closely with Thames Valley Police and between us we steered the communications around the event. We set up a communications group which involved all our local partners to ensure that we shared messaging and worked together in the build up to the big day. This was key to a successful comms plan – working with partners was vital.
7. Team work
I certainly couldn’t have done all the communications for the event on my own. As I said in my tweet, I am immensely proud of the comms, marketing, web and tourism team as well as the extra helpers who made the communications a success in the run-up to the wedding and on the day. And we couldn’t have done our job without working in partnership with other teams in the council and our partners. It really was a team effort.
8. Be lucky
The sun shone, the crowds came out, everyone was happy. *Some* of that was luck.
Oh, and didn’t George look lovely!
Louisa Dean is communications and marketing manager at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead
image via Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead