It happens to all businesses. Something innocent turns into a catastrophe. And whilst sometimes you are culpable - you were lazy, taking shortcuts or taking your eye off the ball in some other way - there are other times when you do nothing wrong, but still get buried by a big pile of badness dropped from on high.
Take Q Magazine.
In recognition of a major titan of pop returning to the live stage, and doing so in the UK, they decided to make him their cover star. The singer in question - Michael Jackson. Other articles in the issue that popped thru my letter box yesterday - a feature on dead pop stars. Oops.
In Q's defense, they did nothing wrong - the issue was a long time in planning, and had already been printed and shipped before news of Jackson's demise broke.
But they will still need to pick up the pieces.
As Q's editor Paul Rees says...
"Michael Jackson’s record-breaking residency at London’s O2 Arena was always destined to be the year’s biggest music story, one way or another. As such, three months ago we decided to put Jackson on the cover of the issue of Q that will go on sale tomorrow and throughout the month of July, when the first batch of dates were due to take place.
Work on this issue was completed a fortnight ago and it was printed shortly thereafter. When news of Michael Jackson’s death broke in the early hours of Friday morning, it was already being distributed. As such, we have had no opportunity to change any of the editorial content within the issue. Such is the risk inherent in producing a monthly magazine – that events may overtake a story that you are committed to.
If you do take offence to any part of the issue in light of Michael Jackson’s tragic passing, I can only apologise on behalf of Q. Hopefully, you will understand that no offence was intended or meant.
I hope instead that Q’s salute to the Thriller album within the issue stands as our tribute to Michael Jackson. It remains a remarkable work by a truly remarkable pop star. We shall not see his like again."
And I guess the lesson is, even when you're doing everything right things can still go horribly wrong…probably in ways you could never have anticipated - I bet no hands went up in the editorial meetings at Q to ask "what if Jackson dies".
So it's probably a good idea to have someone somewhere empowered to respond rapidly to that disaster which will happen sometime. Before things get really out of hand.