Canadian Rapper Drake made allegations the entertainment and hotel complex Parq Vancouver, claiming he was racially profiled and barred from gambling from the venue. Parq Vancouver’s response to these events has been touted as a case of inadequate PR mechanisms to handle the crisis.
Here’s the rundown of the situation. Early morning on November 3, Drake posted “Parq Casino @parqvancouverbc is the worst run business I have ever witnessed…profiling me and not allowing me to gamble when I had everything they originally asked me for.”
Shortly after, Parq Vancouver responded saying it was investigating the issue. This was followed up with a statement at 5:30 pm that same day, saying: “You may be aware of a situation at our casino last night. On behalf of Parq Vancouver, we would like to apologize for the experience our customer had. We are operating in one of the most complex, highly regulated industries and are always looking to better our communication and customer service. We are constantly improving our communications process to ensure that these new regulations are better understood by all guests. We categorically stand against racism of any kind. We are committed to providing a safe, secure and enjoyable experience for all.”
While the company apologized for Drake’s experience with the casino, they didn’t deny there was a racist incident nor did they acknowledge the racism. Renu Bakshi, Crisis Manager at Renu Bakshi Communications Inc. said Parq’s statements “are poorly written, disjointed and do nothing to reassure the public that casino staff was following strict government protocols.”
“I would have provided some details of the incident without compromising privacy or laying blame,” added Bakshi. “Context is everything.”
Ben Baker, principal of Your Brand Marketing and branding expert, commented on the lack of public perception management. “It doesn’t really matter what happened. It’s the perception of what happened.” Many anonymous posters on social media have claimed that the reason behind this fiasco was that Drake sent someone to buy casino chips. However, that person was either not willing or able to fill out the required forms regarding where the money originated. If that was the case, the casino should have elaborated, according to Baker. On the other hand, if it was a racist incident, Baker added the employee responsible should have been fired and the casino should have been upfront about how they dealt with the situation.
Baker believes Parq should have been more upfront with information about the incident. “The fact that they apologized is wonderful,” Baker said. “The fact that they didn’t say why they were apologizing, or what, in their view, the issue was that led to this happening” was where the problem lies. Parq’s delay in providing a statement fully describing what happened and what was done as a result can be disastrous for the casino’s PR, especially in the eyes of Drake’s fans.