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8 Crisis Management Lessons From The Travis Scott Concert Tragedy
From:
Edward Segal, Crisis Management Expert Edward Segal, Crisis Management Expert
Washington, DC
Thursday, November 25, 2021

 

Commentary From Crisis Management Expert Edward Segal, Author of Crisis Ahead: 101 Ways to Prepare for and Bounce Back from Disasters, Scandals and other Emergencies

Several crisis management and crisis communication lessons have quickly emerged in the aftermath of the recent tragic and deadly Travis Scott concert in Houston.

Business leaders should keep the following lessons in mind—which are based on news accounts of the incident—when trying to prevent, respond or manage crisis situations at their companies and organizations.

Pay Attention To Early Warnings

The New York Post reported that, "Houston Police Chief Troy Finner visited Travis Scott in his trailer to voice his concerns about 'public safety' ahead of the deadly Astroworld concert, the chief announced Monday. 

"I met with Travis Scott and his head of security for a few moments last Friday prior to the main event. I expressed my concerns regarding public safety and that in my 31 years of law enforcement experience I have never seen a time with more challenges facing citizens of all ages, to include a global pandemic and social tension throughout the nation," Finner, who knows Scott personally, said in a statement on Twitter.

When You Know Something, Do Something

According to news accounts, Scott continued to perform for almost 40 minutes after a "mass casualty incident" had been declared at the Astroworld Festival.

Your Words Can Come Back To Haunt You

Kojenwa Moitt teaches public relations, marketing and branding at the Parsons School of Design in New York and is CEO of Zebra Public Relations. She noted that, "Travis, unfortunately has been associated with telling his fans to create mosh pits and rush the stage and fans will, just to get closer to the celebrity. When fans who feel obsessed rush the stage, it creates the kind of damage P Diddy experienced once at one of his concerts."

Have A Plan Crisis Management Plan For Every Scenario

"The security and emergency response plan prepared by Astroworld organizers ahead of the festival outlines scenarios ranging from bomb threats and active shooters to lightning, tornadoes and even an earthquake, KHOU-TV reported.

"But the 56-page document never once mentions crowd surge

"Nothing about crowd emergencies, nothing about crowd density, crowd collapse, crowd crush," said Paul Wertheimer, a nationally-recognized crowd safety expert and founder of Crowd Management Strategies. "And yet it's a concert and festival with standing room environment, and you know, they' don't even mention that as one of the emergencies."

Tell People How You Feel About What Happened

According to CNN, Scott took to social media over the weekend and wrote, "I'm absolutely devastated by what took place last night. My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival."

Express Sympathy

Nick Kalm is the founder and president of Reputation Partners, a national strategic communications firm. He observed that, "Travis Scott was right to immediately express what appeared to be genuine sympathy for the victims and cancel his upcoming appearances."

Going A Step Further?

"However, as evidence of his past encouraging unruly behavior at his concerts has come to light, he should have added to his statement with remorse and regret for those actions. If he wanted to go above and beyond, he could offer financial support to the victims' families, but his attorneys are likely to counsel against that given the inevitable wrongful death legal claims headed his way," Kalm speculated.

Be Empathetic

Moitt noted that, "Travis revealed a lot of empathy, and this is the correct response when dealing with tragedy and [fatalities]. By connecting immediately afterwards to his fans on social media he was able to convey that he was distraught. Also, by canceling a future appearance in Las Vegas, it would seem that his heart and intention was in the right place."

Do What You Can Afterwards

Refunds

USA Today said that festival organizers are issuing full refunds to all those who purchased tickets for Astroworld following the tragic turn of his Houston concert that left eight dead and many others injured.

"Organizer Scoremore issued a statement on Twitter Monday offering its condolences and providing an update on the incident. "Full refunds are being offered for all those who purchased tickets," Scoremore said in its tweeted statement Monday about the steps it was taking along with Live Nation and the Astroworld Festival team.

Funerals And Mental Health Services

CNN reported that Scott will cover all funeral costs for the eight victims who died at his Astroworld Festival on Friday, according to a statement released Monday by a representative for the rapper and producer.

The Houston-born artist will also partner with BetterHelp to provide free mental health services to all those affected by the tragedy.

Expect Blowback

The Daily Beast wrote that, "disgusted that Scott's Spotify monthly listeners had increased by nearly 200,000 between the end of October and the tragic events on Friday night in Houston, some users have encouraged others to boycott his music, selecting an option on his Spotify artist profile that will block the play of all of his songs for that user.

"The hope is that at the very least the 30-year-old won't profit from his newly-released songs 'Escape Plan' and 'Mafia,' and perhaps urge Spotify to reconsider having the artist's photo featured on its popular playlists Rap Caviar and New Music Friday."

Be Prepared For Lawsuits

"Several lawsuits have been filed so far against several parties connected to the deadly stage surge during Astroworld Festival at NRG Park...which left at least eight concertgoers dead and many more injured," ABC News reported.

Edward Segal is a crisis management expert, consultant and author of the award-winning Crisis Ahead: 101 Ways to Prepare For and Bounce Back from Disasters, Scandals and Other Emergencies (Nicholas Brealey). He is a Leadership Strategy Senior Contributor for Forbes.com where he covers crisis-related news, topics and issues. Read his recent articles at https://www.forbes.com/search/q=Edward%20segal#31ed72442

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