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Crisis and special event communications

There are always risks involved in every event, and event organisers should always prepare for the risks and for communicating them. In some circumstances, good crisis communication may even help save lives. Even in less dramatic scenarios, it will give a professional and trustworthy impression of the event organiser and minimises the amount of negative publicity.

Therefore, the head of security, the person in charge of the event and the head of marketing/communications should go through possible crisis scenarios as well as how and through which channels they will be communicated. In case of an emergency, speed and efficiency are a priority. An incidence that may cause bad publicity but is not an acute emergency should be communicated as openly as possible and without blaming anyone. If a detail that is kept secret becomes public knowledge later, the resulting damage to the image of the event may be significant. In other than acute incidents, it is often best to let someone in a leading position communicate it to show that the whole organisation bears the responsibility for the event. If necessary, a crisis communication expert may coach the person communicating the information.

The crisis may also be internal. For instance, the financial success of the event may not meet the targets which may affect the employment of those involved in the event or the financial situation of the organisation. The management should communicate these situations and look for possible solutions. Appropriate insurance usually covers salaries and the significant financial liabilities of the organisation.

Crises and special incidents to consider when planning crisis communications

  • Threats to safety (such as external threats, fire, unstable structures, crowding);
  • Sudden changes to the date or place of the event;
  • Cancellation of a performance/number;
  • Cancellation of the event;
  • Financial loss;
  • Illness or death.

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