Extinguishing your PR Fyre Before You Get Burned

By Andie Mirabal


Netflix just released a documentary titled Fyre Fraud, which investigates the 2017 Fyre Festival fail. Fyre Festival was a luxury music festival that was to take place in the Bahamas, feature an all-star lineup and be attended by all the most famous faces.

It was an event that was promoted in various ways, including with influencers on social media and featured videos that showcased a dream vacation, complete with top chefs and Instagram models.

The excitement of guests was at an all-time high as they boarded their plane with the expectation of a private jet to the island, a stay in luxurious beach villas and tents to have the time of their life.

However, as festival attendees arrived on the island, they were transported by school busses to leftover hurricane tents with mattresses that were soaked from the rain.

And as in most situations where consumer expectations don’t match their experience, users took to Twitter to share their frustration amidst the erupting chaos. From the unexpected tents to the iconic cheese sandwich, guests shared each and every detail of the festival.

In the Netflix documentary, viewers are transported through this yearlong festival mishap and can listen in on interviews with personnel involved in many different aspects of the festival planning and app. development. The story leaves viewers with several key lessons, many of which are very relevant to the public relations industry. Below are the top three.


  1. Understand the power of influencers but also FTC regulations. Models such as Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid were paid large amounts of money to promote this event on their Instagram. These posts, at the time, provided legitimacy, as well as created desire to attend the event. The festival soon sold out of tickets. Unfortunately, these models are now under fire for not making clear that these posts were sponsored posts. And as demonstrated, their messages were powerful among the targeted audience. Keep in mind, when working with influencers, to review the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations, which guide how what and how influencers can post, and ensure that all rules are being followed.
  2. Bad news is better than no news. As the festival neared, many officials were unsure if the event was going to happen. Some even recommended that they cancel the event. However, according to the documentary, key decision makers, such as co-creators of the festival, wanted to stay away from bad press. If officials had cancelled or made announcements prior to guests arriving, they would have an opportunity to control the messaging. It also would have helped manage guest expectations.
  3. Internal communication matters. Yes, communication between customers and your brand is important. But, internal communication between firms is what makes the wheels go ‘round. The digital media company that was promoting the event and creating the app. didn’t have key information, such as the status of setup, regarding the festival.They were also unable to respond to any questions that were asked on social media. When partaking in projects on a large scale, remember that the best work happens when everyone is on the same page. All information is good information.

About Andie Mirabal

Andie Mirabal is the Director at The Garrity Group. She is a visual media enthusiast with a love for telling stories. To learn more about Andie, click here.

Published February 11, 2019

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