The word ‘patience’ depending on the situation and parties involved may bring out anger, frustration and anguish or calmness and the ability to wait. It’s often attributed to individuals, but brands use it too especially in a crisis.
When events spring up, depending on publicity people may or may not go. When you get a throng of people at an event, then you know you publicized well and people are interested in the entertainment or otherwise you want to offer.
But sometimes, event organizers forget that as much as they have a flock of people following their event and they herd them, those people expect some level of integrity and responsibility from all persons associated with organizing such events.
When people attend events, entertaining events especially, they expect a level of security both during and after the event. Failure to do so leaves the event in a crisis with the possibility of being canceled.
Now, when issues of sexual harassment come out, 90% of people are quick to call out the founders who organize the event. If said founders do not speak or do not come out to disassociate themselves from the alleged perpetrator then they must be ready to continue facing the fire and brimstone that is hurled at them.
Anytime such issues come up, take for instance the current one ongoing in Ghana (Afrochella’s Edward Elohim (deezydothis) has been accused of sexual harassment by a lady), tempers rise and expectations of organizers go higher. Now when the issues came up on Twitter, everyone called the accused out. Soon, Afrochella was trending for the wrong reasons because Elohim is a Co-Founder of the event.
Afrochella is a cultural event that sees Africans in the diaspora as well as Black Americans and whites coming to Ghana to experience diverse cultural activities. It’s highly anticipated by all and the standards are high so you can imagine how a co-founder allegedly doing this is such a big deal.
It took a while, but Afrochella responded with a statement and subsequently, the accused stepped down from his role as co-founder. You may wonder why. The reason is crisis management.
While tempers may rise from the corridors of clients and advocates, it should be noted that sexual harassment is a sensitive and serious issue and must be handled properly to avoid serious backlash from both sides.
When such issues happen, brands naturally are not quick to react because what if it’s just a mere allegation and the accused person associated with the brand is fired just like that? That would be another crisis for the brand to manage.
You may call it delay, but it’s a tactical approach for them. They sit and watch the issue unfold. The reason is, sometimes, it may die out and there is really nothing for them to say. The accuser may just be chasing clout. Other times, the best approach to dealing with the issue is to be quiet and handle it backdoor.
But when it is sexual harassment, it becomes tricky because while a court with jurisdiction to rule on the matter has not ruled, the accused is simply an accused, not guilty until proven so. The brand is therefore caught between protecting an accused person and then ignoring the calls for safety and responsibility by its clients.
What to expect from the organizers in such an instance?
Well, two things. One, either they are quiet for a period of time; watching the situation unfold and the kind of momentum it gains before putting out a statement on the brand’s position on the matter or two, they keep mute the whole time and surface when the matter is taken to court.
That is where the problem arises because if it’s the former, you are rest assured that, the brand will distance itself from the accused and open up investigations into the matter, but if it’s the latter, except in a court of law, the ‘cancel out’ justice sought may not suffice, it may not even happen.
Either way, when sexual harassment issues in association with event organizers come up, on the part of founders, organizers and the entire brand, what to expect is a delay, a statement or sadly, silence.
The silence may help the brand, but it does not respect the trust people have in the brand unless it is publicly known that the matter is being taken seriously and a court of jurisdiction is handling the matter.
Sexual harassment everywhere and from anyone is wrong, but for event organizers and founders, your response matters a lot. It could either increase or decrease the trust your audience has in you and your response would make or unmake your event.