CEO hits sour note
September 3, 2009
A pair of letters that have defended the music festival CEO’s greeting of concertgoers at the entrance to the Tent are perfectly right that it is a friendly, welcoming gesture, and I am glad to have learned the P.R. phrase “visible management” for this practice. The problem is the manner in which this particular CEO, Alan Fletcher, performs it. When the majority of concertgoers smile and say hello to him, he never says hello to them back, or even looks at them, though a slight deflection of his head indicates that something has registered – odd behavior that comes off as a snub. If welcoming the public makes him uncomfortable, why does he put himself in that position?
The detail is petty, but it changes the beginning of the concert from the neutral experience of not being greeted at all to the negative one of being rebuffed as one enters for a pleasurable experience. In Harris Hall, where he duplicates this behavior while partly blocking the exit to a narrow aisle, some have taken to shifting to the other aisle to avoid the encounter.
In a difficult time for all arts organizations, everyone from the CEO on down should do all they can to gain the public’s good will. It doesn’t help when the person on top sets a poor – and unfathomable – example.