If you work in PR you need to watch Fyre Festival – for all sorts of reasons!
I’m a bit of a binger on Netflix. I’ve probably watched most boxsets!
I was advised there was a new programme I had to watch. For those who don’t know what Fyre Festival is, it *was* a global music festival, set to be held in the Bahamas over two weekends in 2017. The greatest party that never happened…
Two entrepreneurs (Billy McFarland and rapper, Ja Rule) dreamt up the idea after they had created an app which allowed you to book major artists for events. They developed the festival with a team of people, developed a brand and headed to the Bahamas for a photoshoot, which they’d later use to launch the event.
The basic idea is they used models for shots, they engaged hundreds of influencers for the launch day, such as Kendall Jenner (who reportedly was paid ¢250,000 for a single instagram post), and they timed the official online launch with a simple yellow tile and the hashtag.
The long and the short of the story, it was built on hype. It was also taken down by the very people who helped build the brand, the influencers. There were lies, everywhere. There was ego, everywhere. There were lack of morals and ethics, everywhere.
Empty promises for $1,000 – $150,000+
They sold the dream holiday/party with the glam shots, drone footage in the Bahamas and speed boats. In reality, after a year of working on the event, there were no beach houses, there was no luxury VIP experience, heck, there wasn’t even water! You wouldn’t believe it – you really do need to watch the documentary.
What’s Fyre Festival got to with PR?
Where do I start?! Trust, reputation, risk assessment, crisis planning, ethics… and the list could go on!
From a PR perspective, here are my points (as noted on my phone ‘notes’ during the programme):
#Influencers who did what they were asked to do for money, but had no idea of the lies and the fraudulent activity – a) had they labelled their posts as sponsored and b) why had they not done their due diligence? Many are saying the influencer market is even more damaged, influencer agencies in the states are claiming increased web traffic and enquiries as a result…
#Relationships with clients are built on mutual trust and respect
#Planning and organisation comes first, before the wonga
#PR professionals need to know facts, no matter how gruesome, if they are to do their job properly
#PR professionals need to understand business risks and opportunities, including the financials. They need to be able to assess risks and plan how they will be managed
#Leadership sets the tone for everyone else to follow – you lead by example
#Great teams can make great things happen, even in trying times, but there has to be full transparency in order for things to be managed effectively
#PR practitioners need to manage client expectations and have the kind of relationship (built on trust), when they can advise the client to take measures, no matter how drastic. The issue with Fyre Festival is they didn’t pull it in time. As a result businesses, brands and people suffered huge financial loss and were gravely let down
#PR practitioners can offer solutions to challenges – providing they are kept informed, consulted and they are able to use the risk assessments to quickly combat the issue
#If clients ignore your advice, it’s time to walk away – your reputation is on the line
#Arrogant clients with big visions don’t equal good work
#Never compromise on integrity
#Question everything until you’re 100% happy and trust what you’re being told is true. You can’t communicate half truths and you certainly can’t “start to spin it” (quote from Fyre Festival)
#Tell the truth. Don’t lie. The issues the organisers faced were not “out with (their) control”. They lied from the start
#As this type of crisis unfolds in real-time, there has to be a plan in place to manage the situation – this should come from the risk assessment and crisis plan. Consumers need to know how it is, not fed a load of rubbish. There is also nothing worse than being ignored – people come to their own conclusions
#From artists and influencers, to investors and suppliers all the way to home owners who the organisers rented homes from – the total cost of the event was estimated in the region of $38 million – go figure
The whole festival was brought down by a picture of a cheese sandwich posted on social media by an influencer, followed by floods of live videos and ‘stories’ by influencers who were there, raging and started to revolt…
There is so much wrong with the approach taken, the people, the way it was handled and now, even more challenges lie ahead, as NFL star Jason Bell who briefly appeared in the programme, has threatened to sue. There is bound to be more in the coming weeks…
Billy is now serving a six year prison sentence.
Here’s a quick video for the lowdown from celebs, if you’re interested.
What did you think? Whilst entertaining it’s also very close to how some people operate and the terrible impact it can have on lives. Thanks for reading – please share if you’ve found it useful. I’m sure there is plenty more to add!