It’s the old adage, that as long as someone is talking about you or your event, it must be a good thing right? Even if what’s being said or done is controversial, or not to everyone’s taste. Ultimately, it’s making people talk about the event. So it’s putting you on the map.
It’s a hotly argued point, and we’re not sure it’s one we’re wholly on board with. Yes, greater publicity for any event is great. But not at any cost.
When the unexpected happens
This week, one of the most infamous festivals on the planet hit headlines for a particularly controversial reason. Burning Man, held each year in the Nevada desert, suddenly found itself being talked about more than usual thanks to one specific act.
Burning Man is notoriously an open minded, free spirited festival where almost anything can happen. But one artist shocked even that audience, and the world at large.
Australian artist, Flume, during the middle of his performance, carried out an explicit act, on stage, with his rumoured other half. And however open minded a festival may be, there are certain lines you’d think should never be crossed.
It would be easy to imagine the festival’s organisers, or Flume’s publicist going into meltdown, panicking about the aftermath of what had happened. But the sky didn’t fall in quite as you might expect.
The incident quickly went viral online, with memes churning out faster than a production line, and the incident largely being met with humour and relative positivity.
It’s all about context
So no, things didn’t go up in smoke (excuse the pun) for Flume and Burning Man. But there’s a very good reason for that.
As a notoriously free and easy festival, with a largely adult audience, this specific incident went down without causing too much offence.
But turn the tables and if this had taken place at a more mainstream event, the reaction would have been very different. So the key thing to be aware of, is to make sure that your staff, acts and customers know where they are. Who surrounds them, and how they should behave. To make sure that whatever happens at your event, doesn’t cause upset or offence.
Because the wrong incident, at the wrong event, at the wrong time, would surely see an eyebrow raising news story, become a mainstream outrage.
Be aware of everything that’s going on
It’s not just the headline grabbing incidents that could cause you and your event a problem. Sticking with the events at Burning Man this year, the light hearted Flume activity was quickly overshadowed after the event with news of arrests and more serious issues.
These are the pieces of publicity that are harder to shake off. With around 60 arrests rumoured at the event (largely for drug offences), and threatening behaviour taking place in isolated pockets, some harmless fun is quickly eclipsed by these serious offences.
Incidents such as these are the kind that have lasting effects on an events reputation. And could be potentially damaging in the long term.
So to answer our first question…
…no, not all publicity is good publicity.
Yes you and your event can weather things that go wrong, particularly if there are no real victims, and no one is truly offended.
But when there are issues that run deeper, these can stick. And be very difficult to get paste. So make sure that whatever the size of your event, you’re taking the greatest care over the most serious things that could go wrong. And everything else should look after itself.
That’s where we come in
As an event organiser, it’s your responsibility to first and foremost look after your staff and attendees. Without knowing they’re safe and protected, no one’s going to have a good time.
It’s no mean feat organising an event. And there are lots of things to consider. But after you’ve got your plans underway, make sure you’ve considered the risks that you and your customers face. From the small to the large, every event has the potential for something to go wrong.
And if that something is major, it will not only have detrimental impacts to your reputation. But someone could get hurt in the process. And that’s something that no one wants, and any event would struggle to recover from.
So take mitigating steps to protect your customers, your staff, and yourself.
Manage the risks. And make sure you’re properly insured in case the worst does happen. And if you’re not sure how to go about this, talk to our team. We have a range of risk management and insurance specialists who live and breathe the events industry. We know where to spot potential issues, and how to advise you to keep everyone safe.
So if you think your event could be better protected, it’s never too early to start planning. Speak to our team now, and we’ll make sure things go off without a hitch (apart from Flume… we can’t control him)!