Posted by David Oates 4 months, 1 week ago

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Recently, an aerial dancer performing a routine during a Green Day concert in Madrid accidentally fell to his death in front of tens of thousands. Onlookers watched in horror as emergency personnel tried valiantly, but unsuccessfully, to save 42-year old Pedro Aunion Monroy’s life.

Without knowing what just transpired, Green Day goes out onstage to perform, and much to the dismay of many concert goers. The harsh social media backlash made the band appear heartless, even cruel, in disregarding the life of a fellow entertainer. Only after Green Day walked offstage did they come to hear about the tragic occurrence and released this statement:

I felt bad for the popular band, most especially since they found themselves dealing with a crisis communications event through no fault of their own. The blame lies squarely on the Mad Cool Festival organizers that continued the concert and put Green Day in a precarious situation.

Businesses may wind up in similar situations, forcing them to walk a very thin tightrope in the process. Understandably, many would opt to blame the response parties publicly, but doing so could harm a lucrative relationship. Take the responsibility, and the company winds up damaging their brand.  

If seeking guidance, use Green Day and example and adhere to these principles.

  • Show Empathy For The Situation. Put those harmed first in your statements to media, customer, employees and partners. Green Day did this well by sending their thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of Mr. Monroy’s. While not taking or placing blame, they put the focus where it should reside, in honoring the deceased as a courageous artist who passed away doing what he loved.
  • Keep It Short. Explaining in great detail how your organization did nothing wrong or did not know of the circumstances surrounding the crisis is neither necessary nor beneficial. In fact, it may give a false impression that you’re hiding something. In Green Day’s case, they only mentioned where they were at the time of the incident and when they heard of the accident. No more, no less. It spoke volumes and quickly squelched any thoughts that they decided to play on with full knowledge of what just happened.
  • Direct Questions To Those Responsible. There’s no need to take the brunt of inquiries from media and fans when other who made the call should. If necessary, make a clarifying statement like the one Green Day did one day later, but no more. Refer people to the proper folks; in their case, the organizers of the Mad Cool Festival.

Finding your organization caught in such a PR crossfire can wreak havoc on normal operations, but may exacerbate if not handled correctly. To see how best to handle such a situation, keep an ear tuned to what Green Day did. It stands as a terrific example of what to do.

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