Crisis Communications. 8 Learnings for Event Organisers.

We’re living in unprecedented times. Coronavirus is challenging some of the biggest events in the world. We take a look at what you can learn from the approaches of some major events when they have to make huge and difficult decisions.


  1. Once you make a decision, act fast.

There has been some backlash from fans about the short notice of the Grand Prix cancellation in Melbourne. However, event organisers can be put in a difficult position when events are still unfolding and difficult decisions that have an impact on thousands of people and many different organisations need to be made. If you are clear about what needs to be done – don’t delay. The faster people know, the faster they can adapt. Even if the full picture is not clear to you as an organiser, speedy communication is vital. F1 swiftly moved to postpone Vietnam and Bahrain after the decision about Melbourne was made, and they must be congratulated for that. 


  1. Brief your internal team

In your haste to communicate with your fans, do not forget your internal team. They are your best allies and need to be taken on the journey as well. Ensure they understand timings and answers to all the questions. Often they will think of questions that need to be addressed as they are closest to the fans.


  1. Be open and honest

There may be things you don’t yet know, and that is fine. Being honest and constantly updating fans is a great way of building brand trust and value for the future. Camp Bestival was great at this in 2018 when storms shut their event on the Sunday. The year after, was incredibly successful for the festival, with loyal fans supporting them through ticket sales. SXSW has been very honest with their audience with the difficult decisions they are having to make and what they’ll be able to offer their customers. 


  1. Use all channels

This is an important moment for your brand and event. It is easy to make a statement and then forget the media channels that you manage and how different channels require different approaches. Take a quick inventory of your comms channels, and work out how best to post. Remember to monitor all channels for the queries and feedback that you’ll get from fans. Ensure you publish all posts at the same time. The Premier League, FA, EFL and WSL’s joint response has been comprehensive and united.


  1. Get your answers ready, but stay agile

Work out the FAQs and stay alert to any new queries that arise. People don’t expect perfection, but they expect answers. Again, SXSW has reviewed the situation and has adapted their responses based on customer feedback.


  1. Regular communication

When Coachella announced their rescheduling, they were really clear about the timings involved and next steps needed. A simple statement, clearly communicated. People know what to expect and are ready for future communications. The biggest challenge is to ensure that you meet the deadlines you have set yourselves as an organisation. If you say that you’ll deliver an update by a certain time and date – make sure you stick to that. Trust can be broken faster than it is built.


  1. Be your brand

The power of your brand and the way you engage fans will make all the difference. Make sure that your brand personality comes through, even when you are delivering difficult messages. Loyalty will ensure that after this crisis subsides, you will still have your audience. The approach of the football leagues, combined with the different football teams has been cohesive, driven by each club’s personality, brand and particular challenges they face.


  1. But most importantly,  keep your eyes on the future

It is clear that Coronavirus will have a significant impact on events in the coming weeks. But brands and events last for years. There will always be live entertainment and sports. Ensure you stick to these golden rules to keep your business thriving in the years to come. 


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