• What can communication professionals learn from the Fyre Festival disaster?

    The much-hyped Fyre Festival descended into chaos within hours of guests arriving in April, in what the complainant in a law suit filed against the festival organisers described as a "hunger games" like situation. So, what lessons can be learnt from Fyre Festival?

    What was Fyre Festival?

    The festival was put forward as a luxury event in the Bahamas, with sun, sea and models featuring prominently in the promotional content. However as festival-goers, some of whom had paid thousands of dollars for the experience, started arriving they soon saw that the organisers had seriously under-prepared.

    Many had nowhere to sleep, and little to eat or drink, despite having been promised elaborate accommodation and gourmet food. Meanwhile others were stranded in Miami still waiting for their flights out to the island, while almost all the big names billed to play dropped out. The festival was soon called off completely, and organisers made arrangements to get people home. 

    What can we learn from Fyre Festival?

    Don't promise more than you can deliver

    Fyre Festival promised a luxury festival experience like no other, on a desert island in the middle of the Caribbean. Organisers realised the magnitude of what they had to deliver very quickly, with the apology they posted on their website including the fact that "the infrastructure for a festival of this magnitude needed to be built from the ground up." Essentially, they set themselves a mammoth task that they simply couldn't deliver. 

    As communication professionals, it's easy to get carried away when promoting brands and events, as we do all we can to try and garner interest. However, it's important to keep within the bounds of what you know and are able to do, so you avoid disappointing your audience.

    All tents are sold out. VIP villa and yacht packages are still available.

    A post shared by FYRE FESTIVAL (@fyrefestival) on

    Ensure your influencer marketers are abiding by the law

    One of the main effects of the fake news trend is that people are putting their trust in influencer marketing much more. In fact, 81 per cent of brands believe influencer engagement is either an effective or very effective method for attaining their goals, according to an Augure study.

    Fyre Festival organisers certainly agreed, and had all sorts of models and other famous people promote their event. One well-known celebrity was reportedly paid $250,000 to promote the festival on their social media. The posts they made (which have since been deleted) were never labeled as an advertisement, breaching American Federal Communication Commissions rules.

    Be aware that there are also rules over here. The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) has released a new code covering uses of social media and requests that influencers make it clear that they are being paid to promote content. There is also danger that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission could prosecute for breach of Australian Consumer Law.

    Don't be scared of using influencer marketing – it's a great tool for garnering public interest in a brand, cause or event. Just be aware that there are rules surrounding it, and if you're paying for social media personalities to promote your brand, ensure they're following Australian rules and guidelines. 

    Be aware of social media

    As soon as revellers got to the festival and realised it was not what they'd been promised, they started posting tweets and pictures on social media. While Instagram was effectively used to promote the festival, it also was the final nail in the coffin as people realised the extent of the mistakes that had been made. Social media is an amazing tool, but be aware it can backfire on you if you do mess up.

    It's important to learn from these PR disasters, so communication professionals can avoid making the same mistakes. For more news and trends, please visit our Insights page

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