By William Johns, Producer, Woodhouse TV
As a brunette, and with a first name of Kate, I have always fancied Kate Middleton. And last week that admiration went up a notch.
The Duchess was happily wrapping presents at the Northside Center for Child Development in New York…quite a happy jokey setting by the looks of things, when a center employee orders, in a strong New York accent, “Keep wrapping”. I won’t go any further into trying to explain what then happened. You’ll get the idea from the above clip and this link.
Her reaction was of a young woman quite enjoying herself and joking around. The side-eye was a wonderfully playful act. Good on her for being playful in such a public forum. And the social swirl around it comes across to me as a wonderful example of the admiration – even respect – that can flow when someone of a very high profile comes across as a human being. It’s a real focus of Woodhouse TV, when making films, to try and bring out the personality of the person – or brand – that we are filming as it brings about a connection with whoever is watching.
Nicky Woodhouse did it for 3 years with David Cameron before he became Prime Minister through “Webcameron“, a behind the scenes video blog that changed the way he was perceived. He came across as a human being – a radical thing for a Conservative Party Leader. And it has been argued by Ed Amory at freuds that it was a mistake not to continue this convincing window of authenticity.
Look at the difficulty that Ed Milliband is having creating a connection. Have you seen him being a human being lately? Or ever? Now compare these examples to Boris Johnson. Sometimes it’s a good thing I suppose that people’s personalities don’t come through. They might not be particularly nice people, so why let it. But then you look at the disturbing energy that is being sustained by the buffoons within UKIP. What is happening there? Is it that they are at least coming across as vaguely human? Well certainly not that very well “controlled” or sterile.
So why opt for bland and sterile? Well, it’s safe. Sure. You are a smaller target. As a comms professional commissioning a video you are not likely to cause a stir or endanger your job by allowing your boss or brand to let their guard down in public. Further hints are in articles like the The Guardian’s take on Kate’s side-eye – “Duchess of Cambridge rolls eyes after being told to keep wrapping presents”. In the article itself it refers to her “letting her guard down”. The act of being human here is spun as a negative, as if she somehow failed and let herself down.
This is an insight for me about the negativity or spin that can come from making yourself human. It’s part of the bewildering noise of modern day communications – as well as the partisan nature of British journalism. Articles like this point towards the nervousness around openness and transparency.
But spiking through this noise will always be people who come across as human beings – for good or bad. This will be the content that stands out and resonates – whether you are a public figure, or a brand. In this digital age it is human interaction and authenticity we are craving more and more.