By their very nature, investigations into a crisis are exercises in hindsight, often focusing on what could or should have been done to prevent the crisis. Depending on the inquiry and who is conducting it, the end results can include recommendations to help prevent similar situations.
It was only a matter of time until Congress looked into the deadly Astroworld Festival concert that occurred in Houston on November 5. The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform is now investigating the tragedy.
“Live Nation Entertainment was the concert promoter reportedly responsible for ‘planning, staffing, putting up money, securing permits, finding vendors, communicating with local agencies,’ for Astroworld Festival,” said the letter signed by Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney, James Comer, Kevin Brady, Al Green, and Bill Pascrell Jr.
“Recent reports raise serious concerns about whether your company took adequate steps to ensure the safety of the 50,000 concertgoers who attended Astroworld Festival,” members wrote in the correspondence to Live Nation’s CEO Michael Rapino. The company organized the event.
According to ABC News, “The House oversight committee asked that the information regarding the roles and responsibilities for the festival, security planning and the steps Live Nation took after being made aware that law enforcement had declared the event a ‘mass casualty’ be released by January 2022.
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The Committee also requested a briefing on the topics listed in their letter above by January 12, 2022. “Please be prepared to address additional concerns regarding Live Nation Entertainment’s safety practices, including those relating to Astroworld Festival and other events organized by your company,” it said.
“This a horrifying way to die, and absolutely preventable. Their families and our community deserve answers to make sure this never happens again,” said Congressman Kevin Brady. “I pushed for this Congressional investigation to hold the concert promoters and organizers accountable, identify the causes, and make sure families no longer have to wonder if their child, friend or loved one will come back from a concert alive.”
Statements From Live Nation
In response, Live Nation released the following statement:
“We are assisting local authorities in their investigation and will of course share information with the Committee as well. Safety is core to live events and Live Nation engages in detailed security planning in coordination with local stakeholders including law enforcement, fire and EMT professionals. We are heartbroken by the events at Astroworld and our deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of the victims.”
In an emailed statement, Live Nation told CNBC the company will “of course share information with the committee.”
“Safety is core to live events and Live Nation engages in detailed security planning in coordination with local stakeholders including law enforcement, fire and EMT professionals,” the company said.
Advice For Business Leaders
As I wrote shortly after the concert, ”Several crisis management and crisis communication lessons have already emerged…”
“Business leaders should keep the following lessons in mind—which are based on news accounts of the incident—when trying to prevent, respond or manage crisis situations at their companies and organizations (they are discussed in detail here.)
- Pay attention to early warnings
- When you know something, do something
- Your words can come back to haunt you
- Have a crisis management plan for every scenario
- Tell people how you feel about what happened
- Do what you can afterwards
- Expect blowback
- Be prepared for lawsuits