Last summer, country music duo Sugarland was caught up in a terrible tragedy when the stage at the Indiana State Fair collapsed during their show. Now, the band is caught in the unenviable situation of having to defend itself in court.
It’s a public relations nightmare for the Grammy winners. It’s bad enough that the band will be forever linked to the tragedy, but now they’re trying to prove that it wasn’t their fault.
From the Tennessean
At least one public relations expert in Nashville [John Van Mol, CEO of DVL Public Relations and Advertising] thinks Sugarland is making the best of a trying situation, despite a dust-up in the past week when the band’s attorneys said in a legal filing that injuries to fans trapped as winds toppled an outdoor stage in Indianapolis were at least partly “their own fault.”
The work of the lawyers spawned some rather nasty headlines for Sugarland, such as this one from the Chicago Tribune
: “Sugarland blames fans for injuries in Indiana fair stage collapse
John Van Mol told the Tennessean: “The PR team undoubtedly knows the cardinal rule of crisis management that you can’t blame the victims. (But) I believe Sugarland wins in the court of public opinion because what they did in response to the tragedy as opposed to what their attorneys said.”
He’s referring to the many concert benefits the band has done on behalf of the victims.
Meanwhile, an attorney for one of the victims’ families is trying to sway public opinion in the other direction. Carl Brizzi had this to say
about Sugarland’s response:
"Sugarland's response is a carefully crafted legal document that inappropriately attempts to distance the band from the responsibilities incumbent upon the show performers as to the safety of their fans ... And this spin doctoring of Sugarland's role in the case is both offensive and outlandish.”