In the news this week: A PR Nightmare – The Astroworld Disaster
American rapper, Travis Scott, has seen tragedy unfold following his annual Astroworld festival last week, with reports of 9 lives lost and hundreds left injured. The rapper reportedly has a history of charges being placed against him for instigating violence and raging behaviour at his shows.
Lack of security, over-crowding and lack of communication between the event organisers saw attendees allegedly crushed through crowd surges. A common occurrence at concerts and festivals, this is usually responded to swiftly by both security and the performers to avoid injuries.
Fans are divided over the disaster. With cancel culture in full force in 2021, most are calling for him to be ‘cancelled’ and charged for his apparent lack of action when deaths and injuries occurred at the event, described by attendees as ‘hell’. However, the other half of his fan base are in support of Scott, saying he had no way of knowing the severity of the situation in the audience, and that the organisers should instead be held accountable. On a controversial note, some are blaming the attendees themselves for causing havoc amongst the crowd.
The Kardashian/Jenner clan have also been targeted in this PR storm given their connection to Scott, as the father of Kylie Jenner’s child. Kendall Jenner was called called ‘tone-deaf’ for posting a photo posing in front of the Astroworld set, while Khloe Kardashian was targeted for continuing regular posting and hosting a lavish party for her niece, without addressing the victims lost at the event.
Scott has since issued a public statement on Twitter, followed by a black-and-white video on his Instagram story. He stated, in the selfie style footage, that he was devastated about the events that took place and will be supporting both the families impacted and the investigating authorities. On a positive, the statements were issued quickly and offered a reassuring solution to the attendees. However, the unfiltered video in which Scott frequently covers his face and plays with his hair, has been accused by many as ‘forced’ and ‘lacking emotion and sincerity’. This video has since been turned into a series of viral memes.
Whatever stance you take, our professional advice from a public relations perspective would be for every party involved to address the situation in the same manner. Following the same messaging across all stakeholders creates a united front and minimises risk of further backlash.
By Claudia Bergen – PR and Influencer Coordinator at InsideOut PR and #AsSeenOn.