View Full Version : Public Relations and other first year fun!

Naked Ghost Productions
10-14-2012, 08:40 PM
This is the first year for our haunt in a new location under different ownership and different charity. Our team has been together 8 years, with probably 60 years experience between us. We've had some things happen this weekend and I needed to vent as well as get any feedback.

First of all, we had a Facebook attack, we are a haunt that raises money for our local historical society, we are licensed, inspected and permitted to do so through every possible facet. We had 2 volunteers quit on us and they went home and told their moms we disrespected them, this couldn't be farther from the truth, we relish every volunteer which I'm sure all of you know. Well Saturday morning I woke to the mother severely bashing our operation and telling people not to come and that we were pocketing money at the cost of our volunteers. First of all, all advertising (print and web) states that we benefit our local sponsor. Well, we pointed this out to her in a professional matter, and she got all of her friends involved, claiming we were pocketing money. We clearly pointed out that we have all along advertised and worked with the local group. This argument turned in to many other arguments, all because their children can of course do no wrong, so we were the evil haunt. we contacted our attorney and he advised us, the offenders were then blocked from our facebook and made a deal about that.

Secondly, we had a group come through and accuse one of our actors (who by the way is a 5'4" girl that weighs 90lbs soaking wet) of tackling her against a tree and injuring her hand. The customer claimed it was a 6'5" male weighing 250 pounds. we have two individuals fitting this description, but they were both accounted for. She called and bashed me up and down and wanted her money back (a groupon she hadn't even paid for, she admitted that) on scene one of our managers asked her if she needed assistance when she complained to him, she just screamed at him and left. 3 hours after she came through that I got the call, after they went out to eat. We are completely insured and once again, inspected licensed and trained our actors how to scare but she said she's going to get us shut down and tell everyone she knows not to come out.

We aren't really afraid of any action since we are covered, and our attorney and insurer were both contacted. It's just unneeded stress.

I feel a little better, but how do you all handle these situations, I've worked for several professional haunts and non profit, and I know you can't please everyone, but what do you do to not dwell on it?

Greg Chrise
10-14-2012, 10:16 PM
Step one, people who are a pain in the ass, and liars do not have a big list of "everyone they know" and so you are hearing what they think they can get away with for attention. Nothing personal, these people have issues or usually it comes down to they had a few drinks before calling you and weren't in their right minds. Having lied and knowing they will be found out, they aren't really likely to follow it up with anyone of authority or have any investigation from this point on want to reiforce that they have made things up or mis communicated what their kids told them or what some actor did to them.

Sometime you just have to say no and hang up the phone or knock them off your facebook or what ever to not be further solicited or hassled. If there was a true physical injury they might have a beef, but hurting them emotionally, too bad, fly a kite, spend shit loads of time trying to make anyone care. Get a life.

I had to look at the map to see where you were located and frankly, some people just don't get out that much or if they do it is to the beer distributor. For some reason this runs a common theme of what is wrong in modern times. There is almost a perfect script of common bullshit and what people say that you can check off and figure out what they are "on"

I moved from Penn Hills in the 80s and from Greentree and Clairton in 1987 and only now some full 25 years later I'm hearing the same exact phrasing rants that I heard daily in Pittsburgh my whole life. It has taken that long for too many people to move to Texas from some place it is nice to "be from". Like is there a book for what to say if you are an asshole hyped up on something? Is there a movie they have all seen that says these things that they memorized and rehearsed? Yet, all you have to do is do nothing and they will do nothing. If you do something it is a game of they can react in an equally negative fashion. It is like a session of "your mother is so fat" jokes. If you don't play, it means you have something for them they aren't really looking to contend with and it scares them off. I have actually told people first off you should really get some original or new material when you complain, don't just repeat complaints you heard someone else spout off.

Generally once they get past 2 paragraphs of crap they have expended as much energy as they are going to ever. Job done. They don't have a big following and aren't going to. Even if it was to go viral on the internet it is just the opportunity to state your professional responce and it is actually an advertisement for your venue whether they like it or not. Like go a head and report me to the Better Business Burea, they need to know who I am and I will get in for free because of your negative comments! Go ahead! Thank you, in advance for all the time you are going to put into this! (Or insert what ever false group we are calling)

SO many customer service divisions have trained people that if you bitch you get a $10 or $20 coupon or some kind of reimbursement. Not happening with a haunted house. Go bitch at Walmart.

I also find that if you are genuinely rude, people have had enough of the conversation. It is too much work for them to really engage any more. It is all how much attention can I get and what can I get for it. Like the getting a trophy for just showing up mentality. How sad it must be to be them. You are helping a charity, the community, engaging volunteers to show them that they can also help the larger whole and have a good time. The complainers are trying to be beer store and Walmart customers. It's like a few years ago I watched a middle aged lady telling the people at the counter loudly that she thought her meal was terrible and she will NEVER do business with McDonalds ever again and the 20 people in line laughed hysterically. Someone said under their breath, yeah don't come to McDonalds if you are going to be like that. Leave it for us.

How is it this lady was only now trying McDonald's quizine and wasn't impressed? I'm sure she really killed McDonalds income somehow by telling all of her freinds, who probably laughed at her too if not out loud right then laughed about her with others. She probably got knocked off a few back yard BBQ lists by continueing to flap her jaws.

So I'm saying anyone they do talk to isn't going to judge you, they will judge the people telling the story and how they thought they could act up and get something. They just told on themselves that something isn't right with them. It isn't entertaining or someone you want to hang with that is stupid like that.

So despite having nightmares of every idiot in your life, 50 years later you get to figure out it is all some movie script. Or there is a book "Bitching and Ranting for Dummies", except it doesn't make them better people for having mastered it so they lose. Maybe they are reading all the comments on the internet and trying that out in the real world? Sorry, it has been done, try again or rather tell me the real problem.

Your kind of clumsy aren't you? Sorry.
You are trying to show your doofus kid you will stand up for him, even if he makes up a story aren't you? Then it will sort of come to light that you told a story and there might be concequences? Sorry.

Sounds like something for a counciler to deal with, not a haunted house for charity guy. Oddly enough none of the taking complaints situations I have been in have had nothing to do with haunted houses. Problems I have heard from other haunts end up with the kids coming back wanting to work the haunt. Nope, not happening. Sorry.

10-15-2012, 10:23 AM
As long as you handled the issues professionally, your reputation should not see much damage. If you can, have the charity you donate too release a statement as well and disclose your donations from the past.

People with half a brain will realize someone was irate and attacked you for no reason. I would remove the comments after some time; maybe a week or so. Slander is not acceptable and possibly illegal.

The haunt I work at does not hire anyone under 18 unless a trust relative also works at the haunt. Even then, anyone under 18 needs to sign a release and is placed in a scene where they cannot touch or be touched by visitors. I would advise not to hire minors if this person who told their mother was indeed a minor.

Be professional and all should be well.

10-15-2012, 12:16 PM
Welcome to that other part of the haunt biz you signed up for! How you learn to deal with it now will determine much of your future.

Stay professional, stay focused on the actual problem and be concise - do not let the conversation deteriorate or drag out.

If the situation is right and you're feeling gutsy you might as them "what they would like to see happen to make sure it doesn't happen again." Its been my experience that involving them this way sometimes distracts them off the complaint line to the problem solved line. If they are mentally stable they usually say something like- "I don't know, I just think that it should not have happened in the first place."

If they are mentally unstable, then tell them what you plan to do about it in a sincere and matter of fact way and then do it. Apologize, and excuse yourself back to your duties- don't leave the door open to endless arguing. Then have your security staff, preferably your "cooler" if you have one, watch them. If they are still pitching a fit near your lines, then have them go politely ask them to not to do that while luring them away.

About 5 minutes is all the steam their going to have at that moment.

Naked Ghost Productions
10-15-2012, 08:03 PM
As I've said, I've worked IN the haunt industry and not necessarily at the front line of the complaint dept. I was just curious to see if others had the same experiences. I pride myself at being cool, calm and collected, I work with mentally handicapped individuals, I have to be! But after someone personally attacked me as a person and the work (months of it) I put in to get no financial perks (aside from having money to pay for next years) it just makes you crazy.

We have our bases covered and continue to sale tickets and grow, I was just unsure of when to say enough is enough or to just let it fade. As of today, Monday, I have yet to hear from the lady that was "injured" and the other individuals have been removed from our facebook.

Hope everyone has a great week!

10-22-2012, 10:47 PM
It's a shame when people see that we're working so hard to please them then turn that around and use it against us. They sense our desire to make them happy as a weakness they can exploit. We want good reviews and happy customers, so they threaten complaints and bad internet advertising campaigns, unless we give them a free refund or whatever else. One griper parked his car a couple of buildings away and then got angry at us for not agreeing to pay the fee after it was towed by someone else-- so he used social media to bash us. (I felt bad about it, but I would have felt worse if I had caved in to the blackmail.) Some people are just super selfish and will gladly try to ruin it for everyone if they think it will benefit them even a little bit. (Personal injury lawyers, anyone?) This is the downside of society where money matters more than one's personal reputation.