Was the Oscar error a crisis?

Not in the real world that is for sure. When you are in the middle of a problem the magnitude can easily look much greater than it is. This is certainly true when you are on a stage that is being watched across the world. Add to that, the world media pack, echoing and building on the mistake.

You can be mistaken for thinking it constitutes a crisis, at least for a moment. It is actually just a story that will sell, and that is the main driver for the media. When the media has an error combined with big business names and celebrities, they will milk it for all it is worth.

Before you think I am putting all the blame on the media I am absolutely not. We, the public are equally to blame. If we didn?t buy and stream and share the story the media would be far less interested.

Yes it was interesting that such a mistake can be made, however it is also easy to see how it could happen. Is it really big news?  There is not even a theme of incompetence here, when you know that it is the first time PWC have made a public error in 80 years of running the Oscars!!!!

The facts are:

  • an admin error was made
  • it was picked up in 120 seconds
  • it was corrected with the same level of exposure as the mistake received (shame that is not the general media experience)

The so called damage to PWC was predictably nothing other than a little embarrassment. No business is going to cancel their contract because the wrong envelope was opened, no business is going to take them off the tender list. Mark Ritson from Media Week summarises some of the American media reactions:

  • USA Today predicted ?short-term damage? to the PwC brand was inevitable
  • ABC News said the mistake would put PWC?s ?reputation in jeopardy?. 
  • Advertising Age concluded that the ?Oscar Oops? could ?spell lasting brand damage? for the firm.

While your crisis is unlikely to be on the same scale you can draw some lessons from this.

  • Step back and look at the facts, is it a crisis?
  • Don?t catch the media frenzy, react in proportion to the issue 
  • Get your facts clear
  • You will need a plan of how to manage the media reaction
  • Focus on the issues not the media 

My view is that the damage from this error was all inflicted on Moonlight. The news headlines should have been all about this film winning the Oscar. Instead it?s news cycle was watered down, their acceptance speech was not shown, they didn’t even get presented with the Oscar properly. Although they had more news cycles than they would have had and will of course be remembered for ever in pub quizzes.

So even when a crisis is not a crisis, there are circumstances when the media can create one. You would be foolish not to manage it and there can be unintended casualties who need to manage their position as well.

The best advice is to be prepared for a crisis by planning for one so you know the team to call on when you open the wrong envelop. If you would like to discuss how to get your plan in order contact Sarah for a chat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *