Whether or not you watched the Oscars last week, you probably heard about the big (and pretty uncomfortable) Best Picture mistake. To recap, La La Land was first declared the winner, but while the team was onstage accepting the award, it was discovered that Moonlight had actually won.

Awkward. (See below.)

Now look, mistakes happen to everyone – even to the Oscars who’ve been around for 89 years. That said, it’s how you handle those mistakes that matter.

Here’s how the Oscars did it, and more importantly, what association professionals can learn:

They announced the mistake as soon as they were aware of it.

It took a couple minutes for everyone to figure out what was happening, but as soon as PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the accountancy firm that oversees the counting of the ballots, realized what was happening, they announced that mistake to the world – even if it meant onstage in the middle of an acceptance speech.

Sure, it was awkward, but delaying it would’ve only made it worse. The takeaway? Be transparent about your mistakes as soon as you’ve realized they’ve happened.  

They sincerely apologized.

As soon as PwC realized what happened, they issued a formal apology:

“We sincerely apologize to ‘Moonlight,’ ‘La La Land,’ Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for best picture. The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred. We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation.”

It’s hard to be mad at a person/company who’s genuinely sorry and promises to look into the mistake to ensure it never happens again.

They made light of the situation – in an appropriate manner.

Sometimes, you just have to laugh at your mistakes. Again, you’re only human and they happen to everyone. Jimmy Kimmel (obviously) did this very well. He blamed Steve Harvey for the mistake, in reference to the Miss America mishap that happened in 2015. Steve Harvey responded like this:

Steve Harvey.png

See? Funny!

The Moonlight winners also made light of the situation. Barry Jenkins, the director of Moonlight, joked, “Even in my dreams this could not be true!”

They didn’t drag out the jokes for long. But they did make a few – and it helped lighten the mood for everyone.

So there you have it. A few tips for appropriately handling event mishaps. Want more tips for planning your next event and ensuring it’s a MAJOR success? Check out our Complete Guide to Association Event Planning below!