Event safety or cashing in on a crisis?

In the aftermath of the terror attacks it’s clear for everyone to see they’ve had a huge knock on effect, not just on peoples’ personal lives but on their professional lives too. I am probably not the only one to receive a flurry of emails from different companies, asking me (or in most cases telling me) am I doing enough to keep delegates safe? What is our terror, threat and security policy at events ? And do I need their help?

No one would argue with the fact that it is 100% necessary to have a developed crisis management plan in place when it comes to delegate and public safety.  Nevertheless, I can’t help but view *certain companies’* haste to contact event professionals offering their services directly after the abominable events that took place in Paris as opportunistic and driven by commercial gain. Perhaps it depends which way you look at it – these companies are offering a service which is actually necessary in the current climate. But to cash in on this straight away is surely immoral.

Take for example the terror attacks in Paris, which saw France and the rest of the world join together in solidarity against terrorism and the phrase ‘Je suis Charlie’ used by millions online. I read an article that stated only 24 hours after the attacks in Paris a trademark application was submitted to own the copyright for clothes, stationery and cleaning products using this slogan – if this isn’t cashing in on a crisis then I don’t know what is. Naturally this application was met with widespread refute – you can check out their response here; http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/cashing-charlie-hebdo-terror-attack-merchants-marketing-firms-seek-profit-massacre-1483337

I guess it’s time to look at the issue of whether we are actually doing enough to ensure the safety of delegates at events. Aside from the issue of companies cashing in on such horrific happenings – there’s no denying that it IS a very real issue that needs to be addressed, whether with the help of an external company or by strengthening your existing crisis communications, or both.

After recently attending Event Huddle’s latest discussion on “Terror, Threat and Security – Are we doing enough to keep delegates and events safe”? It became apparent that everyone agrees we need to be doing more but the real questions are what can be done and can we ever do enough?

A recent statistic released by Event Huddle stated that 93% of #eventprofs don’t feel they are adequately trained to deal with a terror incident at an event. But is it really just down to the event organiser or should the venue share the responsibility? I would argue that it’s the responsibility of both to have adequate security measures in place and that this should be a given. However, when discussing a physical terror attack something as simple as screening delegates and event staff simply isn’t enough. The very nature of the events industry is fast paced, interchangeable and involves a high turnover of temporary staff. Undertaking in-depth background checks and screening just isn’t an option for most companies – simply because of budget and time. Aside from this we all know that most of the time, if you want to gain entry to an event, you can find a way and no amount of pre-screening will change this.

Without knowing who or what your threat is there is very little anyone can do to prevent what some may say is an eventuality. What can be done is effective communication – having a solid crisis communication plan, communicating with delegates on social media, communicating with the authorities and stepping up security generally across events without creating an atmosphere of panic. To a certain extent, I think as adults everyone has a responsibility for their own safety – in the current climate everyone needs to be aware of their surroundings and the risks that are present. . .

 Jack Roberts

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