Less than two months after a man was stabbed to death outside of Juliet Supperclub in Chelsea in New York City, a gunman walked in last Tuesday and sprayed the room with five bullets, killing one person. Now with a fair amount of their patron’s blood on their hands, the owners are coming under fire from a different attacker: the State Liquor Authority. A spokesman for the agency said they were investigating the club and that its liquor license could very well be in jeopardy. A representative for Juliet told the press they are cooperating fully with the police, but that’s about all the information they’ve relayed. How should a club handle such a serious crisis (or in this case, series of murders)?
Steve Kasuba is a nightlife public-relations maven with a sizeable number of years in the industry under his belt. His roster of past and present clients includes Goldbar, RdV, Aspen Social Club, The Surf Lodge, Montauk Yacht Club and more. Kasuba breaks down the basic steps to dealing with and overcoming something as disastrous as a death within your venue.
Nightclub Confidential (NCC): What's the first thing you should do after a murder occurs within your venue?
Steve Kasuba: Foremost, it’s imperative to cooperate with the police and their investigation. This includes providing eyewitnesses, surveillance footage and statements from the security team. That’s primarily the responsibility of the owner and management.
Club PR maven Steve Kasuba.
NCC: What're the next steps after that?
Kasuba: The priority of a publicist is the reputation of their client. This includes a consistent message to the media and clientele. It's important to assure the public that this situation is not the norm and all efforts are being executed to prevent anything similar from happening again.
Next, you have to readily be available to the media. Responding quickly is also very key. If you don't have a statement prepared, the press will only have details from outside sources. You have nothing to hide. Anticipate the story angle, and respond immediately and accordingly.
Finally, in today’s age of social media, you have a captive audience interested in your message. This is a unique opportunity to speak with your clientele directly. When you can, take advantage of keeping them in the loop with what’s happening with the venue, the investigation and other details.
NCC: What are the most common mistakes owners make when faced with situations like this?
Kasuba: Not responding quickly, or at all, is a huge mistake. Silence does not project confidence. You need your customers to know that you are as outraged as they are this could happen. Let them know it won’t happen again on your watch. The worst possible outcome obviously would be shuttering and that happens when you can't inspire enough confidence in your guests. They simply won’t return.