Help Wanted: Queen Elizabeth seeks social media director on LinkedIn

Neil Vigdor, The New York Times

Posted at Dec 13 2019 03:51 PM

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II leaves after signing the visitors book as she visits the new headquarters of the Royal Philatelic society in London on November 26, 2019. Tolga Akmen, AFP

It’s a job title you might expect to find at a media powerhouse or Silicon Valley startup: head of digital engagement. The annual pay could be as much as 50,000 pounds (roughly $67,000). Oh, and there’s free lunch.

Just be careful not to confuse #ootd, the hashtag for “outfit of the day,” with OBE, the Order of the British Empire.

It’s a possibility when the boss is Queen Elizabeth II, who, at 93, is seeking a social media guru to develop content and help her stay connected with her millions of followers, according to a job posting on LinkedIn.

The help-wanted notice, which was posted Thursday, redirects prospective applicants to the royal family’s own website. The pay ranges from 45,000 to 50,000 pounds a year based on experience, with a 37.5-hour, Monday-through-Friday workweek, it said.
"It's knowing your content will be viewed by millions," the job posting said. "It's about never standing still and finding new ways to maintain the queen's presence in the public eye and on the world stage. This is what makes working for the royal household exceptional."

The position was listed at a tumultuous time for the monarchy, which has been grappling with negative publicity over Prince Andrew’s ties to the financier Jeffrey Epstein, who had been accused of sex trafficking before his suicide in August. Many are also on the lookout for a potential succession in the monarchy, in which the queen would hand the reins to Prince Charles, who is believed to be taking a more active role in shaping the royal agenda.

It was not immediately clear whether Buckingham Palace was seeking to fill an existing vacancy or it had created a new position. In May, the palace posted an opening for a digital communications officer with a salary of roughly 30,000 pounds. Buckingham Palace did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

The application deadline for the current opening is Dec. 24, according to the LinkedIn job description, which said the ideal candidate should have experience “managing and editing high-profile websites, social media and other digital formats.” As of Thursday evening, 45 people had applied for the position through LinkedIn, according to the website.

Arianne Chernock, an associate professor of modern British history at Boston University, said in an interview on Thursday that the job was a recognition of the role that social media plays in helping the royal family as it tries to control its image.

"I think the royal family has been trying to figure out how to be more proactive in their relationship with the media," she said, noting that the family has its own YouTube channel. "It's that illusion of access or intimacy that they really are projecting."

But don’t expect a free-flowing stream of consciousness of the sort found on President Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, she said.

"I think it won’t be spontaneous," Chernock said. "Certainly, it can be more immediate. But there’s a difference there. We’re not going to see off-the-cuff remarks.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, regularly share photos on their joint Instagram account, which has nearly 10 million followers. In July, they posted images of the private christening ceremony for their son, Archie.

In contrast, the royal family’s public relations strategy took a hit last month when Andrew gave a wide-ranging interview to the BBC about his ties to Epstein, whom he stayed with in New York in 2010 after the financier had served time for soliciting a minor for prostitution. The Duke of York announced that he would step back from his public duties after the interview.

Chernock said the royal family grew accustomed to news media crises and fixing its image in the 1990s, when Charles and Princess Diana divorced.

"This is part of a strategy that began long before the Epstein scandal," she said. "It may have a new urgency."

As for the salary, at least one public relations veteran said the rate struck her as low for a digital director.

"It seems like it has a significant amount of responsibility for a salary that seems more junior," said Jen Danzi, who runs a public relations, social media and event-planning company in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Danzi said Buckingham Palace could view the association with the queen and the experience as part of the compensation.

She also wondered how much independence the successful candidate would have to post on social media, especially if the person has to abide by something like a nondisclosure agreement.

"Where are you on that chain of command?" Danzi said. "Do you have freedom to do what you want? Social media and nondisclosure really don’t go together.”