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How NOT to Handle a Crisis

LouFest, an annual outdoor music festival in St. Louis' Forest Park, was canceled this morning -- three days before the event.

Ticket-holders, vendors, sponsors and lots of other random folks are ticked off.

We didn't plan to pile on. Plenty of people are spreading lots of pixels and ink to describe LouFest management's incompetence. We don't know the entire story. We don't want to participate in that mob-action.

But we felt compelled to chime in after seeing this: The folks who manage LouFest's Facebook page responded to howls of protest on that page by essentially telling everyone to bug off.

LouFest posted on its own page: "Please visit the page of our parent company if you want to file any complaints. Complaining in the comments section of a defunct music festival page is like trying to kill flies with a toothbrush." (The post has since been deleted. But the damage is done. Angry folks screen-captured the post and shared it through their own social media channels. I found the screen capture on twitter. )

Ummm... No, LouFest, complaining in the comments section is like...kinda human.

It's just venting. It's telling a business, "We're unhappy. We feel mistreated."

Here's the thing about interactive media. It's interactive.

If you put yourself out there on social media, or if you send emails to your list, or if you have an open comments section on your website, you're inviting your followers to interact with you.

That's the case when things are going well. That's also the case when things go really, really badly.

If you run a business with interactive marketing channels, prepare to interact.

If you run for the hills when things go poorly (or, worse yet, if you tell people to bug off when the interactions are not positive), you invite criticism and fuel even more complaints.

That's when people really pile on.

 

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