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Oscar Ceremony Team on High Alert With a Crisis Communications Plan for This Sunday’s Broadcast

By Bruce Hennes, Hennes Communications

The Academy Awards ceremony is one of the most high-profile events in the entertainment industry, drawing millions of viewers from around the world. With a large audience and so many moving parts, it’s no surprise that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has created a “crisis team” to be on standby to help manage any unforeseen issues.

This team will be made up of representatives from law enforcement, emergency services and the entertainment industry.

Any number of situations could quickly escalate into a crisis if not managed properly. A terrorist attack likely is near the top of the list as the Oscars would be a high-value target for any group looking to make a statement. The crisis team will likely be working closely with law enforcement and other security personnel to ensure that the venue is as secure as possible.

Other potential risks?

  • Natural disasters. An earthquake during the Oscars? Unlikely. But remember the 1989 World Series, when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit just before Game 3, severely damaging Oakland and San Francisco. The Oscars crisis team will likely line up emergency services and equip the venue for a disaster.
  • Medical emergencies. Any venue hosting a crowd should have trained professionals on hand for anything from heart attacks to allergic reactions.
  • Technical malfunctions. Live broadcasts are high-wire acts and while a simple technical glitch doesn’t equate to an earthquake, with millions of people watching, a serious malfunction can develop into a crisis if not addressed immediately.
  • The unexpected. Protests, celebrity meltdowns, the slap heard across Hollywood and around the world…a crisis communications team’s job is to handle what no one saw coming and ensure disruptions are managed effectively and fade away quickly.

Will Smith won’t slap Chris Rock this year – Smith is banned from the Oscars for 10 years. But you can bet that this year’s Academy crisis plan includes a similar scenario.

Hennes Communications has developed crisis communications plans for government agencies, nonprofits, corporations, nursing homes, hospitals, schools and other organizations with high levels of vulnerabilities.

Nobody at the Academy anticipated the winner of the Best Actor Award would walk up and bust the chops – literally – of the multi-Grammy award winning comedian – while millions of people watched. While it’s impossible to predict every crisis, you can stay ahead of one by having a crisis emergency plan spelling out the action steps that must be taken, dovetailed with a crisis communications plan spelling out what needs to be said at a moment’s notice and beyond.

As has been said many times by one of our colleagues, Jonathan Bernstein, we’ll wing it isn’t a plan.

Thinking it might be time for your organization to have a crisis communications plan?  If you’re in a bet-the-farm situation, the generic plan you copied from the internet isn’t going to be the robust lifeline you need.  And talking to a P.R. firm that does a few plans a year in-between new product launches and preparing press releases isn’t going to cut it either.  Maybe you need to talk to one of the few firms in N. America focused exclusively on crisis communications and crisis management.  Call Hennes Communications at 216-321-7774 and let’s chat.


Photo Credit: DALL-E

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