In addition to Mary’s earlier story (http://bit.ly/2m6AsVV) I want to shine some more light on the disrupted Oscar ceremony of February the 26th.
As you might have heard, this year’s Oscars were a fantastic show, up until the last 90 seconds of it. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were handed the wrong envelope when announcing the winner in the category ‘Best Picture’. Instead of praising Barry Jenkins and his cast for the movie Moonlight, La La Land was announced as winner – a failure now publicly known as #envelopegate.
Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), responsible for addressing the right winners made a mistake. Within minutes the crisis diffused through Twitter. When it comes to crises, Twitter is shown to be the leading outlet of reports in terms of volume and content, due to its microblogging nature. Within moments of time hashtags were hurled into the world. Every single one in the public could follow, share, comment or contribute to the occurring crisis, using #Oscarsfail, #MoonlightGate and #Envelopegate.
The morning after PwC published a public statement via Twitter, taking the blame:
In the following days, President of the American Film Academy (AFA) Cheryl Boone Isaacs went to the bottom of it. Four days after the incident she announced that Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz (of PwC) are banned from any future dealings regarding the ceremony.
In her handling of the crisis, Boone Isaacs cleverly victimized the Oscars, designating PwC as perpetrator:
”Then, of course, there was the last 90 seconds,” Boone Isaacs said. ”And what angered me, I would say, in these last couple days is (the focus on) this 90 seconds and moving to the side the brilliance of the day.”
Boone Isaacs said to have waited with a full response until her team had a good understanding of what led to the error. Research shows that whenever a crisis has internal origins, the public will hold the organization responsible and negative public emotions can be expected. As PwC was to blame for the mistake, from the perspective of the Film Academy, the crisis had external origins. But, as this was not immediately clear at the moment of the crisis, the public did not make a distinction. The Oscars and its crisis were thoroughly ridiculed.
An alternative insight
Though Boone Isaacs tried to set the record straight by pointing the finger at PwC, the AFA could have jumped in earlier by incorporating social media in their crisis management. Research shows that online crisis response activities are becoming increasingly simultaneous and intertwined. Best practices regarding the usage of social media in risk and crisis communication include the following:
1. Partner with the public
2. Listen to the public’s concerns and understand the audience
3. Communicate with honesty, candour, and openness
4. Meet the needs of the media and remain accessible
In the heat of the crisis, the AFA refused to take notice, allowing the public to take ownership. The AFA could have set the boundaries of the discourse by providing an honest statement saying that they would get to the bottom of it. By not being accessible and partnering with the public, the AFA let go of the opportunity to control the debate.
What is left now is the poignant flop of this year’s Oscars, an angry and disappointed Boone Isaacs, and two PricewaterhouseCoopers representatives without a job. Not so La La Land.
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Esmee de Vries – Here to unite strategy with creativity, vision with philosophy and numbers with people.
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