28 February 2017
Helen Westgate, Director & Founder

The real PR challenge for the Oscars is 2018

Warren Beatty The Oscars 2017

This week's onstage shenanigans at the Oscars were a complete PR nightmare, from the logistical mistakes of the wrong envelope ending up in the hands of the two film icons who are Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway to the now monumental reputational challenge that both the Academy and PwC now faces. Countless questions are now being asked, by the media and also internally, so that this situation will never be repeated.

But what most of those caught up in the ensuing drama will not realise at the moment is that the biggest PR challenge actually lays ahead of them. As the preparations for next year's awards begins, there will now be another completely new strand of intense activity.  

In addition to the event planning, the management of the voting process, the celebrity liaison, the pre-publicity build up etc. etc. there will now be a huge focus of time and resource dedicated to communicating clearly to both the members of the Academy and all its global audiences that this scenario will not happen again. 

It will not be enough just to make one media statement – there will need to be a series of media briefings, with succinct explanations and clear rationales of the new approach, along with an outline of who is responsible for what. And of course all this communications activity will need to be underpinned by a continuing expression of regret for what happened.

These sorts of situations deliver not just short term reputational damage but, in our online world, stay in the Google search engines forever. This is why the communications team for both the Oscars and PwC must now work hard to generate positive stories and content to counteract the negative impact of Warren Beatty being handed the wrong envelope. 


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