What To Do When Something Goes Wrong With A PR Event

Over the course of my last semester as a college student, I’ve taken on two work study positions, both dealing with public relations.

In one of these jobs, there has been no prior public relations in this department, which leaves me bringing an entire PR plan to the job. That being said, this has definitely been very good in allowing me to learn to be a PR professional in the field. However, I recently found myself in my first PR predicament with this job.

An event was scheduled on a Saturday from 9 a.m.-noon. I was asked to schedule a photographer from our local paper to take a picture for the event. The photographer was scheduled, I confirmed the time with the photographer the day before the event, and the event went on as planned. On Sunday, I received an e-mail from my boss that unfortunately the event was finished by 10:30 a.m. and everyone had left before 11, when the photographer was to show up.

My first reaction was panic. Not only had I scheduled the photographer, I had later confirmed the time and place that the photographer was to show up. After calming myself down, I began to think of how to resolve the situation. Here’s what I came up with and think it can be applied to a variety of PR event situations:

  • Apologize. I called the photographer and immediately apologized for the situation, and any inconvenience it may have caused him.
  • Explain. I explained the situation to the photographer, that I had not been present at the event, and that the event had concluded earlier than planned.
  • Cover yourself, without throwing anybody under the bus. I explained to the photographer that I had re-checked the time of the event on the day prior to the event, and was reassured that it was from 9 a.m.-noon, and that was the time I was expecting it to conclude.

My strategy seemed to have positive results, and the dilemma appears to be solved. How would you have solved an issue like that?

About the Author
Christina Starr is a frequent contributor to PR at Sunrise. She is currently a senior at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and will graduate in December with a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a concentration in public relations. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter via @c_c_starr.


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5 comments on “What To Do When Something Goes Wrong With A PR Event

  1. Lessons to be learned:
    1. If you’re involved with an event, make sure you go to the event yourself. It was a Saturday morning. No excuse for not showing up.
    2. Have a contingency plan. What would you have done if your photographer was delayed or incapacitated? If you were at the event, you could have taken pictures with your cell phone. (See lesson #1.)

    • I agree, attend your planned event. I always wear my Canon slung over my shoulder for a picture only I can capture and of course, I agree, using your cell phone camera…..always have a Plan B.

    • I agree with Jack and Stevie. Try to always attend your planned event. Especially if you are the point of contact for a journalist or photographer. You may have even wanted to attend just long enough to ensure the photographer arrived without a hitch. If you could not attend, have someone else there acting on your behalf. Although there was a photographer from the local paper, someone should have also been taking pics for your organizations in-house collection.

      But, kudos to you for running the entire PR show yourself while still in school. Keep up the great work!

  2. Great tips, I’m still learning, so I appreciate the advice and I’ll definitely put it to use in the future! Thanks! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Strategists Need to Continue to Do ‘Punk Work’ from Time to Time |

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