Lessons from the Oscar Night Blunder can help you handle it when something goes wrong at your event.
Envelopegate is just getting started. Already there are conspiracy theories circulating to explain what “really” happened that night when the Best Picture award was mistakenly given to the wrong film. The search for who to blame for the Oscar Night blunder may continue indefinitely. According to reports, the Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, was horrified at the mistake. “ “I just thought, Oh, my God, how does this happen? How. Does. This. Happen. And it was such a wonderful show.”
Isaacs' reaction is completely understandable. Anytime we put together an event we invest a lot. Time, energy, enthusiasm, hopes, dreams, and money are just a few of the things we throw into the mix when planning a big day. So when something goes wrong, it feels truly awful.
But as we look at what happened the night of the Oscar’s big blunder, we can learn a lot about how to handle such a crisis. Here are a few lessons dancebands.com garnered from studying that muddled mess.
If Something Can Go Wrong, It Will
The Academy Awards broadcast is one of the most produced celebrations of the year in an industry that is famous for producing big celebrations. The fact that something so huge could go wrong on such an important night just proves Murphy’s Law.
As we prepare for our events we need to keep that in mind. Even the most responsible and capable people can make mistakes. Bad weather blows in and sometimes the power goes out. If we start our planning by understanding that it’s not only possible but probable that something will go wrong, we have a much better opportunity to handle any crisis that occurs.
Prepare for Problems
Part of your planning for any big event should be to consider where things are likely to go wrong. Once you’ve identified these points, you can then make a plan to deal with any problems. Keep in mind that your event planner isn’t just there to help you choose a venue and flowers. Part of their job description is “problem-solver.” Your event planner can help you immeasurably to identify what some of these problem points might be because he or she has experience in dealing with the kinds of problems that pop up at events. Work with your planner to develop back-up plans.
It might not have looked like it. But the Academy and PriceWaterhouseCooper (the accounting firm in charge of the envelopes) had procedures in place for what would happen if the wrong winner was announced. It might have looked like chaos, but once the crisis had happened, the crew backstage started executing those procedures. Within four minutes the mistake had been corrected. A lot happened in those four minutes, true. But just imagine how long it could have gone on if the people backstage had been standing around trying to figure out what to do.
Follow the Plan (And Stay Off Your Phone)
It’s beginning to look like Brian Cullinan handed the wrong envelope to the presenters because he was busy tweeting a picture of Emma Stone after her win for best actress, rather than focusing on his job.
Not to throw Cullinan under the bus, but it’s also becoming clear that there were policies in place to prevent that exact thing from happening. “[He] was asked not to tweet or use social media during the show,” a source told People magazine. “He was fine to tweet before he arrived at the red carpet but once he was under the auspices of the Oscar night job, that was to be his only focus.”
If Cullinan had followed the established protocols for doing his job that night, nobody would know who he is and an 83 year relationship between his firm and the Academy wouldn’t be in jeopardy. You can prevent these kinds of mistakes by staying focused and following the plan. Oh. And it’s not a bad idea to put your phone away, as well.
React with Grace
One of the moments most likely to endure from the 2017 Oscar broadcast, is not the backstage crew scurrying around. It’s Jordan Horowitz taking the lead in correcting the error.
After La La Land had been announced as the winner, producer Jordan Horowitz took to the stage where he gave a moving and heartfelt speech accepting his award to an audience of his peers and a broadcast audience of millions. Seconds later he began to realize that there was a problem. "It was like this slow, steady realization that something wasn't right,” he said in an interview with Good Morning America.
If anyone was directly affected by the blunder it was Horowitz. And yet rather than raging or even just standing still in the hopes that it wasn’t really happening, he acted. “I wanted to make sure that the right thing was done, because, you know, at that point it was not about me," he said. "It was about making sure that Moonlight got the recognition it really deserves."
How cool is that? In spite of the colossal blow that such a mishandled loss must have been to Horowitz, he was more concerned about making sure that the true winner was honored. That right there is grace under pressure. It’s heroic. And it’s a model for all of us about how to react in a time of crisis.
In the aftermath of the mistake, PriceWaterhouseCooper acted responsibly by putting out a statement in which they acknowledged their responsibility for the mix up.
“PwC takes full responsibility for the series of mistakes and breaches of established protocols during last night’s Oscars...We are deeply sorry for the disappointment suffered by the cast and crew of La La Land and Moonlight. We sincerely apologize to Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Jimmy Kimmel, ABC and the Academy, none of whom was at fault for last night’s errors. We wish to extend our deepest gratitude to each of them for the graciousness they displayed during such a difficult moment.”
Their apology is especially noteworthy, given that they could claim (as some have) that Warren Beatty clearly knew something was wrong but didn’t do anything about it. Instead he passed the problem onto his partner on stage. Yet, PwC's apology takes “full responsibility” and doesn’t seek to blame anyone else. This doesn’t mean that they’re not going to investigate what happened. Clearly, an investigation needs to be done--not to establish fault, but to figure out how to prevent a similar mistake from happening in the future.
When we personally (or through the action of an employee) contribute to a failure at an event, we need to make sure that we accept responsibility. It doesn’t change what happened. But it does allow the people who have been injured to feel some closure. In contrast, casting around for others to blame just makes us look bad.
It's inevitable that some things will go wrong at your event. At dancebands.com we do our best to make sure that your event goes off without a hitch. We have the experience necessary to plan for and protect your event. And if things do go wrong, we're confident in our ability to make it right. Contact us today for information about how we can help pull off your next event.