#Envelopegate teaches us important lessons about PR, focus and scapegoats

The Oscars announcement that wasn’t gaffe is a wake-up call to anyone with a rep to protect. In the aftermath of one of the biggest ever award bungles #envelopegate teaches us important lessons about PR, focus and scapegoats.

Big roles carry big responsibilityCullinan backstage tweet

Whilst it’s OK to tweet about your role in one of the biggest award ceremonies on the planet; with the role comes responsibility. Yes, that means you PwC Partner, Brian Cullinan – the man who is at the root of the gaffe. It’s important to remain professional because with this comes credibility.

The now deleted back stage tweet from Cullinan is hard evidence. It shows focus was lost at a key moment in this story and impacted the course of events that followed.

Oh, and it’s worth knowing it doesn’t work when you delete tweets. Someone will always have a screen grab. And you need to consider caching.

Sometimes behind the scenes is a better place to be

As a PR of nearly 20 years, I’m very happy to stay behind the scenes and off camera. It’s my role to focus on preparing those who rightly should be in the limelight.

I find it odd that Cullinan seemed to undertake so many media interviews about his and PwC’s role in the Oscars in the run up to the ceremony. Plus, he and the other PwC ballot counter, Martha Ruiz even walked the red carpet with their famed briefcases. It is very easy to see that Cullinan became more interested in the glamour of the event and his subsequent fame than focusing on the [ridiculously important!] task at hand. There’s a message here about to not overstep the boundaries of milking it for all it’s worth. That’s if you should be in the limelight in the first place, of course.

The bigger they are, they harder they fall

Turns out PwC are also making a scapegoat out of their employee. Placing blame solely and securely at the feet of Cullinan.

A statement from PwC said: “…PwC Partner Brian Cullinan mistakenly handed the back-up envelope for Actress in a Leading Role instead of the envelope for Best Picture to presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. Once the error occurred, protocols for correcting it were not followed through quickly enough by Mr Cullinan or his partner.” Ouch.

The role of PwC was pivotal. The firm has counted Oscars ballot votes for 83 years. To date. When your supposedly behind the scenes role takes centre stage, it’s time to consider that seeking PR for your efforts doesn’t always pay off.

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