Executive Lessons from the Royal Wedding: Instantly Available Intimacy for 3 Billion

Posted on April 30, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

It’s 6am on April 29, 2011 in Austin, Texas and I’ve just attended the Royal Wedding. I got to watch the processional, the ceremony, and the motorcade to the celebratory luncheon. I got to mingle with the crowd. I got to see Catherine’s amazing dress and Prince William’s handsome uniform.

I got snapshots to show my family. And all of this was courtesy of YouTube, the Royal Wedding Official website, Twitter and the BBC.

About thirty years ago I watched Diana and Charles marry.  I remember that day too…sitting with my roommates Lois and Carol and watching the TV.  There was probably live coverage for that wedding too.  But I recall seeing Diana’s wedding dress and thinking how romantic it all looked.  But this time it was very different:  No roommates around and my family sleeping in the next room, yet this time I felt more connected to the event.  What was different? I think it was the clever use of technology that made this incredible affair both intimate and public.

This time the web brought the wedding into my home in a very different way than the TV did so many years ago.  This time I was watching the BBC’s live feed on YouTube.  In a separate window I was on twitter, where a conversation was taking place with the press and other royal watchers. I was able to instantly download clips of segments of the ceremony that happened before I got online. I was able to see the clip of Prince William and Prince Harry leaving Clarence House and Catherine arriving at Westminster Abbey.  I saw Elton John singing in Church.  I felt the excitement of watching a new bride and groom walk down the aisle together for the first time as man and wife.  I was able to take ‘snapshots’ of key scenes on my laptop (much better ones than I would have had if I’d actually been there). Further, I was able to read comments and banter with others who were just as into the event as I was.

What’s interesting about all of this is the instantly available information, video, photos, commentary and community involvement.  In the past, there would have been reporters TV crews recording every aspect of the event, and we’d get to see their videos and read their stories when they were ready to show them to us.  This time, and with all the instantly available mechanisms, we not only see what the reporters record, but we see what the common people think, see, and record.  We see many different views give the many different audiences, all at the same time.  It’s a community event where everyone in the community can participate instantly.   It’s also instantly archived.  All of our interaction is preserved, for better or worse, to be retrieved later.  So what was instantly available is also continually available for review at our convenience later.

This has implications for how our enterprises might think about information dissemination.   Royal Weddings bring out the ‘everyman’ and increase exposure to and comfort with these technologies.  As our communities become increasingly used to online interaction, the broadcast mediums of the past give way to the interactive mediums of the present and future.  Events not near as grand as the Royal Wedding, but just as important to their respective communities, can reach their communities, even if geographically dispersed, in a much more intimate way than ever before.   It’s that coupling of intimacy, instant availability to a broad group, and archiving of it all for later review (with strong search engines that make it retrievable) that we saw used so boldly with the Royal Wedding and that our executives can learn from for their future interactions with their communities.

PS: It’s now the next day, April 30, and I’ve learned from the NY Times that the estimated audience was 3 billion.  This won’t be the last time we see an intimate community of this size, given the capabilities and reach of our newest social technologies.  Maybe next time we’ll have holographic images that add the dimensionality to the video and photos of the day, and we can feel like we’ve really brought the event into our living rooms, or our desktops.

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