One Media Lesson To Take Away From Sussexit

Updated: Jan 21

I'm jumping on the Sussexit media bandwagon, because there's an important takeaway from this whole affair for personal branding. As you may have heard, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, are officially leaving royalty behind in order to pursue "financial independence". One major reason for this is that they are fed up with kowtowing to the Royal Rota, the press pool (and tabloids) that give coverage to the Royals. Prince Harry has never been a fan of this group, claiming they were responsible for the death of his mother, Princess Diana. Both he and Meghan are currently suing them for what they believe to be pernicious, racist and misogynist attacks on Meghan, from the day she and Harry were revealed to be dating.

As Lainey Gossip has very effectively pointed out, Meghan is a master of playing the PR game, given that she comes from Hollywood. Meghan demonstrated this from the start, with socio-political overtures that set a different tone to her wedding, from an all-black gospel choir to the choice to have a black American bishop preside over the ceremonies.

Through their Sussex Royal brand, she and Harry have been very astute in carving out a distinct identity for themselves, separate from Kensington Royal (Prince William and Kate Middleton), with a focus on women's rights and poverty in developing nations, particularly those in Africa. This continues the brand Meghan had already started developing since she achieved some star power and prominence through her work as an actor on Suits.

No matter the efforts Meghan and Harry have made together however, the UK media has kept the story spinning back to the same negative narrative toward Meghan. It doesn't matter whether or not you agree with that assessment, that has been the Sussexes' take on it.

The Lesson and Takeaway

Rather than continue to employ the same tactics, the Sussexes disrupted the game they were unhappily playing with the media, blindsiding them by launching their lawsuit and moving out of the UK. Now no one knows what will happen next and we look to the Sussexes to tell us the next step.

I invite you to bring this idea - rewriting the rules of the game - into your own career. Before you launch your next project, take a look at how the media has typically covered other similar initiatives.

You'll notice that the media tends to fall back on the same themes in its narratives, as shorthands. In the case of the royal family, it's the social climbing outsiders; another very common one across the board is of someone in distress, finding their way back up to the top. These work because audiences are attracted to the same types of stories and they sell. However, we are so lulled into hearing these stories that they can lose their effectiveness and just become background noise. All the more reason why it can be useful to break this bubble. So, what do you think you can do to disrupt the process and rewrite the rules?