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Crisis Communication Planning for Live Events and Music Festivals.

Andy Robertson

In an uncertain world planning a communications process for any potential crisis should form part of the planning process for event organisers of any large-scale live event where tens of thousands of event goers are present. What steps should organisers take when planning for crisis communications? 

Although it can be difficult to plan for every eventuality typical issues can include offences committed by event goers including petty theft, violent behaviour or even sex related offences. However, large-scale life-threatening disasters can strike without warning including terrorist attacks or adverse weather. The purpose of effective communications in such circumstances is not only to protect the image of the event organising entity but to save lives too. In the pre event planning process organisers should include an agreed communication process that includes all relevant parties (crisis management team). This will include collaboration with local emergency services and the police along with all volunteer marshals on site.

Crisis Communications Plans. 
Someone needs to be assigned overall responsibility for crisis communication planning and deployment. The responsible person needs to ensure that a process is in place and that all parties are appraised of the channels to be used along with a series of alert codes to indicate the type of emergency being encountered. This plan needs to cover both internal and external communications.

Communication Channels. 
Most large-scale live events will have small army of volunteer and
full time marshals and security personnel who will likely possess on site radios. These can be used to escalate any issues up to the responsible individual. Additional back up communications channels can include mobile phone calls and messages for example. If communication to event goers is required a robust plan should indicate how this is done, possibly via on stage announcements using the sound system in conjunction with messages via the event app.

All staff and volunteers need to be appraised of the
communications process and what messages are to be given to event goers. The last thing any organiser wants is for event goers to ask marshals what is going on and they respond with ‘I don’t know’, the marshal should be able to clearly communicate the nature of any crisis and what action event goers need to take. 

On a final note the communication messages should not promote any form of panic amongst event goers and should convey a calm tone to ensure an orderly evacuation of any venue or festival site. If a venue or festival site has to be evacuated where will event goers go? Ensure communications to event goers is clear and precise. In addition to on-site communications organisers should also have pre prepared messages for the wider media to reassure the public that they are in control of a particular crisis.

Using an events software management platform like FestivalPro event organisers get all the functionality they need to manage event logistics and planning. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The FestivalPro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features for documenting processes and scheduling training along with a detailed contact database to effectively manage any crisis communication plans.  

Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

Andy Robertson
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