Perot Museum Shows How Not to Handle PR

The Perot Museum of Nature and Science has been quick to trumpet all the news of its greatness, most of it well-deserved, in science education, especially for young people. But in another area–transparency in dealing with the public after some news happened there that wasn’t so great–the new showplace gets a big fat “zero” so far.

We’re talking about an incident at the museum on Dec. 30, when, according to a Dallas Morning News report, an unidentified “adult male” was injured and taken to the hospital after suffering some sort of injury at one of the exhibits. The museum wouldn’t say which exhibit was responsible for the injury, or exactly what happened to the guy, or who he was, or much of anything else. But it did shut down the unnamed exhibit.

The DMN then sent out a reporter, who revealed that the fracking-related “Shale Voyager” exhibit in the Hunt Energy Hall had been closed. I guess you could put 2 and 2 together, but the Perot ain’t talking. And further, says a spokeswoman, the museum “will not be providing any additional information at this time.”

But, responsible institutions inspire confidence because they’re frank and open about the challenges they face, as well as about their accomplishments. Is the museum playing coy because the Voyager involves natural-gas fracking–the exhibit gives you a virtual ride down into a gas well–and fracking’s already got enough bad press?

Whatever its reasons for clamming up, the Perot’s teaching everybody one good lesson, at least: How not to do PR.

UPDATE: At 4:54 this afternoon, the museum issued a further statement that reads in part: “On Sunday, December 30, 2012, an adult male was injured in an interactive exhibit in the Sports Hall called “Jump” at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Museum staff responded immediately and emergency protocol was followed. Emergency officials were contacted, and he was transferred to a hospital where he underwent treatment for an injury to his left ring finger. The Museum cannot disclose information about him or his specific injury or speak on behalf of the injured man. In an abundance of caution, the museum has closed the exhibit while the situation is reviewed. …”