The movements, controversies and staged photo opportunities of the Royal Family are as popular as ever with the press and public alike. As the definition of ‘celebrity’ shifts year by year, there is still one family who commands more column inches than any other – the Windsors.
This makes the Royal Family an eternally interesting subject matter to study from a journalism and PR perspective. A family who have lived much of their lives in the public eye, and yet the common folk just want more. And, as the Queen passes her 94th birthday and one of her grandchildren has just blacklisted sections of the press – we’re at an interesting crossroads of public demand and press supply.
So, we’ve had a little dig around the data and discovered there’s something of a disconnect between what the public wants and what the press is able to turn up. Furthermore, there’s evidence to suggest that whilst we may want to read about the Royals, we don’t necessarily like them.
Update – March 2021
Almost a year on, some things have changed. Some things, of course, haven’t…
It’s safe to say that the spike in January 2020 was due to Harry & Meghan stepping down as ‘Senior Members’ of the Royal Family. It seems like the increased amount of articles around the pair last month means we could be heading for a similar spike, based on the increased media attention around their recent interview with Oprah.
We already knew the media loves Meghan, however after crunching the numbers, we found that in 2020, Meghan had over double (and not too far off triple!) the amount of articles written about her than Kate had in the same year (210,922 vs. 80,889). This doesn’t come as too much as a surprise as our original research concluded that Kate gets the least media attention out of the ‘Fab Four’, and with the updated data, this still remains true.
Harry, on the other hand, appears to be getting the most media attention out of the group. In February alone, there were a whopping 22,878 articles written about Prince Harry, and Meghan wasn’t too far behind this number with 21,725 articles.
In terms of popularity and fame, things have also changed. According to YouGov data, Prince William appears to have now taken the top spot in both fame and popularity, with a 75% popularity rating, pushing the Queen down to second place in both areas. However, things aren’t all bad for Her Majesty as her popularity rating is 73% and it seems she has lots of fans amongst Generation X.
The Queen’s Reign
It’s nearly five years since Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning monarch in British history, and she’s closing in on 70 years on the throne. However, it seems as though the British press still can’t get enough of her.
Over the previous 12 months, she has been the subject of 550,000+ news articles from around the world – that’s more than 1,500 a day! To say she’s 94 and doesn’t get out a great deal anymore, that’s an incredible number. In fact, she’s commanded more than twice the number of articles than any other member of the family – with Prince Harry coming in second, with just shy of 265,000.
Not even huge scandals can usurp the Queen’s reign as the press’ favourite. Prince Andrew had a troubled 12 months, with allegations against his private life made public – but he still only garnered a measly 72,125 articles.
And, it’s not as though the Queen suffers from seasonality; she was the most popular Royal throughout the year, never relinquishing her top spot as this visual demonstrates.
Meghan – The Public’s Favourite
So, fans of the Queen are well catered for – they’ve got one and a half thousand articles to sift through every day. But, is that what the wider public really wants? Google Trends suggests not. By taking the number of search enquiries pertaining to a particular subject, Google Trends can provide a basic interest score from 0-100 – with 0 being no interest and 100 being hot property.
When the Royals are inputted into Google Trends’ calculator – the Queen only comes in third place, just behind Prince Harry and way behind Meghan Markle. The Duchess of Sussex (to give her new Royal title) is the member of the family most of us are searching for, with a Google Trends score of 18/100. This might sound low, but the Queen currently sits on 10/100 and she’s arguably the most famous person on the planet (and subject of nearly 50,000 news articles a month, remember).
Furthermore, as the name suggests, Google Trends is far more susceptible to seasonality. Pulling out the interest scores over the past 12 months, we can see wild oscillations, with Meghan reaching 100/100 in May 2019 when she gave birth to a Royal bambino
So, this really throws up the question – does the public love Meghan and the establishment prefer the Queen…
A Popularity Contest
… no. Unfortunately for Meghan Markle – the interest we have in her as a public does not translate into approval and adoration. YouGov rank the Royals on public approval and appreciation – and their stats put the Queen way out on top with a 73% approval rating. William and Kate come in second and third respectively, as the bright and shiny new generation of Royals (Prince Charles is way down in 7th – suggesting the public wouldn’t mind if he abdicated for his first-born).
Way down the bottom is Prince Andrew – and with the press he’s received, is there any real surprise?
But, What Does this Mean for News, PR and Content Publishers?
So, whilst this has been a nice dalliance with the most popular Royals – there are some lessons to take away for news, digital PR and content publishers.
If the main objective of creating and publishing the Royal-focussed is to secure hits and visits to your website, explore the number of articles published about the subject matter and including the keywords you’re targeting.
Over-saturated subjects (such as the Queen) may prove a more difficult topic to secure visibility and subsequent traffic. Competing against tens of thousands of other articles every day – your work might never see the light of day, unless you have a unique and interesting angle. If your work can provide new information (or interesting angles on old information), then you might enjoy a little success. So, just be wary that the competition from an over-saturated market could make it more difficult for your content to land a hit.
The Google Trends section of this article showcases that there is greater appetite for Meghan Markle news at the moment than Queen-focussed titbits. When you have an idea for content, review the current Google Trends figures to identify the angle which will best target what the public are clamouring for. In fact, we added an extra bit to this article’s title to target people searching for Meghan Markle news.
Another thing to consider is that people don’t always want to read news about things they like and things that make them happy. Anger and frustration are similar motivators for the public when they are searching for news – so, don’t be afraid to cover unpopular subjects. Meghan Markle’s eighth-placed rank in the YouGov popularity poll compared to her top spot in Google Trends suggests people are drawn to negative stories as much as positive.
Whether you want to offer an opposition to negative news coverage of your chosen subject, or you’re happy to add fuel to the fire – controversial subject matter is always gold when you’re crying for attention. Just ask Katie Hopkins (but, please don’t be horrible).
We hope this piece has shed a little light on using research to determine how to angle and position your online content and digital PR to secure maximum gains. For more help with your digital PR processes, visit our product page or contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.