“Never let a good crisis go to waste.” – Anonymous
If there is one thing every human being knows or gets to find out soon enough, it’s the truth in the statement, “nobody is perfect.” Although no boss will take that from you as an excuse for failing in your duties, it doesn’t make the statement less true. Mistakes are us; the best of us learn from them and do better, others don’t and repeat them. But even those who learn from the mistakes of yesterday are bound to make new ones today, and on and on it goes. Yet, nothing of importance was ever made without mistakes and crisis are often a precursor to major successes.
But when you are a celebrity, your mistakes tend to be more public than it would be for us normal folk, and a small matter can quickly snowball into a major crisis. This was the case earlier in the week when news broke of the rising star, Peruzzi’s assault on Pamilerin for basically saying that Teni was the more talented artiste of the two in a tweet. The matter became a trending topic on social media and soon became a full-on crisis, which was subsequently defused when Peruzzi issued an unreserved apology which was accepted by Pamilerin. A good judgement call on Peruzzi’s part.
Crises, though problematic, always carry a seed of opportunity in them, but often celebrities freak out when in crisis and fail to take advantage of the inherent opportunity they present. For instance, in March 2018, at a free show sponsored by the Enugu state government for Flavour, it was alleged that countless women were raped and/or molested at the show venue. Flavour’s response was interesting, to put it mildly. He simply went mute, hoping that everything will blow over. Eventually, everything seemed to blow over, but was it forgotten? No. In another related event, some months prior to the Flavour show, on the 19Th of November 2017, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium in Awka, it was also alleged that many female fans were sexually harassed and raped at PhynoFest. What was Phyno’s response? Anger, disbelief, denial and little empathy as seen in this tweet: “The event wouldn’t hold if we can’t guarantee d safety of d fans that came tru. And this is coming up a month after d event.. how come?” Can you believe that?
Bear in mind that the people who were alleged to have been molested or raped at the two events highlighted were fans of Flavour and Phyno who traveled from their homes to see their beloved superstars, only to be sexually assaulted and then treated so shabbily by the very stars they so adored. In a way, flavour’s silence was, at least, a tacit endorsement of the rape culture which remains a massive stain on our society. For musicians who sing about women a lot, Flavour and Phyno missed a great opportunity to stand for the women who love their music, and women in general, when it mattered. They could have made videos or released statements tendering their unreserved apology and shown empathy to the victims; they could have taken responsibility for ensuring that at least some of the perpetrators were brought to book and made efforts to visit one or two of the victims. But they didn’t.
Contrast their responses with Ariana Grande’s response to the suicide bomb attack at her May 2017 Manchester concert; her first tweet: “Broken. From the bottom of my heart I am so so sorry. I have no words,” then she went back with a bunch of her Superstar friends for a benefit concert that raised $13 million for the victims; she also visited some of the injured in the hospital and the mother of one of the deceased. And she has consistently put out a word to remember the victims on May 22nd of every year since the incident. How about that? Big difference!
As we established earlier, crises are inevitable, but I think these five points will help artistes respond better, even without any PR support.
1. Respond quickly, don’t play dead
2. Take responsibility, apologize
3. Tell the truth, don’t prevaricate
4. Don’t be defensive, Look for the seed of opportunity in the storm
5. Improve the quality of your team – (most important)
In the two cases highlighted above, both artistes missed an opportunity to become strong advocates for the banishment of rape culture from our society. Rape culture might affect women directly, but the whole society bears the brunt of the malaise. The above events would have been an opportunity for the artistes involved to learn more about rape culture in our society and lend their voices and star power to educating the youth and hopefully cause a change in behaviour. This, by the way, would have made them bigger stars than they are today. But PR said no.
So, although Peruzzi made a huge mistake by hitting Pamilerin in the first place, the fact that he apologized makes a world of difference. And unlike Flavour and Phyno, wherever this matter is mentioned in the future (and it will come up), it will always be said that Peruzzi apologized (forget about Davido’s problematic apology for a minute). Could the apology have come sooner and be better worded? Certainly. But apologies are better late than never.
Well done, Peruzzi.
Obinna Agwu is a compulsive lover of music, Talent Manager, Music Business Executive, Adviser to Labels and Talents and the author of The Mob’s Take and BOM Series.