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Perot Museum Shows How Not to Handle PR, Ctd.

Glenn took the Perot folks to task for not handling an accident in the museum as well as they could have. I agree with him. A patron was injured, and you need to consider the person’s privacy. No question. But when asked by reporters, they could have issued the following release:

In the Sports Hall, a patron was interacting with an exhibit that challenges people to jump as high as they can. In doing so, his ring got caught on part of the exhibit, and his finger was severed. We deeply regret that this happened. The exhibit has been closed until we can determine how this accident occurred. The Museum staff is staying in close contact with the injured man and his family.

Because that’s what happened. There were people in attendance who saw it happen. Did the Perot folks think the story would not get out? I’m certain the museum is concerned about what legal action(s) lie ahead. Will the man sue the museum? Will the museum be forced to sue the people who made the exhibit? What about the crew that installed it? Yes, yes. But you can still tell the public what happened without exposing yourself to (more) liability.

UPDATE (6:09) — I should have mentioned this when I posted the item: when the museum was located in Fair Park, on a contract basis, my wife handled PR for what was then the Perot-less Museum of Nature and Science. And in 2004, for one year, when it was still called the Science Place, she was a part-time employee.

  • Bill Marvel

    The trouble with public relations is that too often a public-relations response is dictated by the higher-ups, not the person actually responsible for public relations. The result is almost invariably a public relations disaster.

  • Lefty

    Was it not a digitalized exhibit?

  • RAB

    Are you implying that your wife would have done a better job handling PR for this situation — or is your Update a crass audition for a job for your wife (i.e., the current hack sucks; bring back a pro)?

  • Tim Rogers

    Neither. The disclosure was for Jim Schutze, who once upon a time said I was conflicted in writing about Museum Tower because my wife years ago did contract PR work for the Nasher. I have nothing but respect for the folks at the Perot and those who handle the crisis communications for the joint. They simply made a mistake in this case, which is something we’ve all done and will do in the future.

    At 5 pm today, the Perot released a statement that provided a few more details. I’d paste it in this space, but it’s a PDF, and my phone can’t handle that mojo.

  • Matt G

    I can’t tell if you’re speaking in jest, or actually mean that question, RAB. (A nice demonstration of Poe’s Law.) Tim just went back and did full disclosure, like a professional journalist should do. He acknowledged that he should have added it to the original document, and that he was just correcting the oversight.

    I’ll bet that Tim thinks more about the PR of such an institution due to his wife’s former position there, though.

  • RAB

    If you can’t tell, then I’ve done my job.

    So here’s RAB’s Law: Any chance to turn something back on Tim, to eff with or needle him, or to generally try to put a hitch in his day, one is honor-bound to jump on it with both feet. If it can be done with humor or sarcasm, so much the better (but not necessary).