Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Flyers Carnival Crisis Communications

I have the distinct pleasure of interning for the Philadelphia Flyers working with Comcast-Spectacor Charities.  We most recently held our 35th Annual Wives For Lives Carnival, which in the past has raised over $1 million for local charities. We have learned a lot from past carnivals and are always looking to make the experience better for our guests. In the past, the lines have been too long and some participants were unable to receive autographs or photographs. This year, we decided to pre-sell popular players, including Flyer’s captain Chris Pronger, in order to insure that every participant will receive an autograph or photograph. While this was a good idea in theory, the unexpected happened, as it usually does. The Flyer’s Captain Chris Pronger suffered a major concussion and announced that he would not be participating in the annual carnival, leaving 650 paid customers out of an autograph and photograph. There were a number of things done to inform the public about Pronger’s absence both internally and externally.

Internally, we made every department in the building aware of Pronger’s absence. We created a FAQ sheet and interns, such as myself, were trained to take calls from angry participants. We were told to explain how their ticket could still be used at the carnival and assure customers that other players were still available for autographs and photographs.
To inform the public, the department reached out to all of those who had pre-purchased tickets via email. We explained the unfortunate circumstances and instructed guests that they could still receive photographs and autographs for any available player with their Pronger ticket, at the carnival. We also updated the Flyer’s CharitiesFacebook page with the same information.  Additionally, we mailed a signed autograph picture to every pre-purchased Pronger order.
The unfortunate circumstances of Chris Pronger’s absence enabled me to get a better a look into crisis management and communications. I learned that the two key factors in handling the crisis were: informing the public that they still had options prior to the carnival, and still giving the public what they paid for, which was the autographed picture.

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