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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

San Mateo Club Wound Up With a PR Disaster

In retrospect, the hubbub surrounding the disruptive and surprising Sept. 10 fireworks display by the Peninsula Golf & Country Club in San Mateo could have been largely avoided (or at least softened a bit) if club authorities had made sure that the surrounding community had ample notice of the event weeks in advance. They made only a very minimal and belated effort, at best. There are plenty of mechanisms to get out the word, including cable-TV, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, flyers, yes, even newspapers. Municipal officials should have been clued in early on. By doing so, those city folks could have issued alerts as well. The club, on the occasion of its 100th birthday, did not seem to realize what it was heading for one day before the national observance of the tenth anniversary of the terror attacks on the East Coast. Just a modicum of public relations savvy could have saved the club a whole lot of subsequent grief. A check of its own Website showed there was no indication even there of what was about to transpire. It was as though the club, located in the middle of a quiet residential neighborhood, had no notion at all that a sustained fireworks show involves heavy-duty explosions that would rock homes, disturb residents, frighten small children and animals and generally shellshock entire neighborhoods. So, unfortunately, the club missed out on an opportunity to generate goodwill. Instead, its big celebration turned out to be a PR nightmare.

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