Celebrity News

By George, He’s Easily Dethroned “Hollywood” Baby Coverage
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Guest Post By Michael Schiferl

There’s little doubt traditional and social media has gone completely ga-ga regarding the birth of the just-named future King of England, George Alexander Louis. While his future role on the throne is likely decades away, within hours of his birth he quickly assumed his place as the reigning king of conversation and coverage.


Coverage of pregnancies, births and adoptions related to well-known people is nothing new. Whether it’s keeping up with the Karadasians’ baby news or learning about Madonna or Angelina Jolie’s adoption news, entertainment media, bloggers and mainstream news outlets have made it relatively easy to get and share news about pregnancies, adoptions and births linked to the well-known. In fact, popular outlets like people.com even have editorial sections focused exclusively on celebrity babies and moms (and increasingly dads too).  And many well-known personalities themselves directly shared baby-related news with global audiences via their often-large social media following.

So why did this week’s news about the “royal baby” make those other famous births seem like a mere blip on the famous baby-news radar?  And why will we continue to hear about George for some time to come when children of other famous people truly become yesterday’s news?

First, whether you love everything about the royal family or are thoroughly annoyed by their mere mention, there’s no overlooking the historical significance of George’s birth into what is arguably the most visible and well-known royal clan in the world. And while the children of famous celebrity parents may or may not grow up to be famous themselves, we’re assured the future king will indeed be famous and in the public spotlight his entire life.

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The royal family has done an outstanding job of appearing to not be seeking out such massive coverage, yet doing many things to foster such widespread and real-time coverage. From democratizing the official announcement via Twitter, providing just enough access to official information while maintaining some privacy so that factual stories outweighed speculative ones, it’s been a PR cue for the royal family thus far.

Some other reasons baby George’s birth outshines other famous baby news:

Truly expected story: From the first public declaration of pregnancy, the media and public have had months to anticipate the future royal’s birth date. Countless stories in advance covered everything from maternity fashion to flashbacks to the Prince’s own birth to his famous mother. Rarely if ever is there been such examination and historical recaps of celebrities’ pregnancies or own birth stories. And, because information was public about where the baby would be delivered and massive crowds were allowed to gather – something often kept private by celebrities – it made it easy for media to literally camp out in anticipation and share that wait in real-time with viewers, listeners and readers. While news of celebrities giving birth is usually shared by mainstream media, breaking news alerts noting a celebrity has gone into labor, delivered and then later named a baby don’t exist outside specialized entertainment sources.

Stately birth proclamations: Sure, Beyonce’ and Jay-Z have a huge global fan base, but even their fame doesn’t warrant the attention of heads of state worldwide to issue very public congratulations. Whether President Obama or Russia’s President Putin, such public and official declarations are not expected protocol for children of Hollywood elite but are and were for the future king. These announcements expanded the coverage and raised the level of importance to the world stage no celebrity would warrant.

Pictures worth a thousand words, not only millions of dollars: While some celebrity parents have “sold” rights to their baby’s first public pictures to the highest media bidder, baby George was presented to the world in a very public way to both screaming fans and clicking cameras. So while People Magazine ran pictures on its cover much like other ‘celebrity babies’, papers worldwide from The Wall Street Journal and New York Times literally had the pictures as front page news too. While media outlets covet the ‘exclusive’, the royal family knew no exclusive was warranted as the pictures and news would be a “must see” for many globally;

Yet more money – beyond celebrity interests: While some celebrity pregnancies may have spurred small economic activity through business deals and marketing contracts for themselves and smaller groups of people impacted by those deals, they haven’t created wider economic and business-impact – and wave of related news stories – like that of the “royal baby”. From mass merchandise, vendors ranging from food stands to hotels to service the massive crowds (including media) who gathered near the London hospital, there has been economics-related news to cover and share;

Surprise! And more to come: While the Prince and Duchess were in the public eye during their pregnancy, they didn’t share so much about their baby to diminish the story before it unfolded. For example, they didn’t reveal the sex of the baby or forecasts potential names. As expected, the “breaking news” alerts from mainstream media outlets along with Tweets and Posts about his name were plentiful this afternoon to reveal more news. Expect to hear and see life moments ranging from his Christening, first tooth to first steps and beyond for years to come;

Coverage of coverage: Because of our ever-expanding choices of news and information, particularly in an age when it is easy to ignore stories and content outside personal interest, it is rare a story has such global coverage and volumes of social conversation and sharing. It’s also rare a story crosses over so many media “beats” from entertainment, fashion, health, politics, economics, marketing, technology, and the personal Tweets and Facebook pages of people everywhere. Perhaps because this has been a story which seems tough to avoid, everyone from columnists, pundits and individuals have added to the coverage by chiming in on their analysis of the news and social engagement – and comments about the sheer volume of coverage.

For these reasons and more, no mere “celebrity” baby has a chance of getting so much attention – even if he is cast in the role of “George” for the inevitable made-for-TV movie examining our public fascination with the story.

Michael Schiferl is executive vice president for global public relations firm Weber Shandwick (www.webershandwick.com) where he specializes in strategic media relations for many of the world’s best-known companies and brands. He’s been instrumental in shaping some of the most recognizable media relations programs, including his work with Taco Bell’s unique “Thank You For Suing Us” crisis response to a lawsuit which triggered widespread media interest. Michael’s been quoted by marketing industry trades, as well as outlets including People Magazine, New York Times and Chicago Tribune for his media relations insights.

Image Credit: Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images



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