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Category: Copywriting, Events

When The Unimaginable Happens… The Headliner Pulls Out

This was a guest post for Signarama and their Signwriters Blog series:

Headliner Pulls Out

As I sit relaxing before the day of my second last event for 2011, there’s always that little niggly worry of

What happens if my speaker/celebrity/headliner decides not to come…?

A niggly fear, that Swisse would have made reality, earlier this week when their headliner, Kim Kardashian (rumoured to have cost $150,000) pulled out at the very last minute.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know she’s going through divorce proceedings but my heart goes out to Swisse.

So what do you do, apart from panic, when your headliner pulls out?

  1. Let the public know, as soon as possible.
    There would be nothing more disastrous than having the news leak.
  2. Be upfront with delegates – go for honesty.
    The headliner may be their motivating driver for attendance and they would appreciate the early notice.
  3. Don’t be quick to offer a refund, stay positive.
    There’s plenty of other benefits to your event, be quick to promote those.
  4. Have a sense of humour.
    Swisse couldn’t have the real Kim Kardashian onsite, so they found a cardboard cut out… admittedly, the cut out probably attended for much longer.
  5. My boss and mentor, may he rest in peace, taught me the most important lesson I have ever learnt in events. One which I will continue to share for the rest of my life:


Everything has a way of working itself out.
Don’t panic.


Swisse’s media statements commented on how the cancellation felt like “a slap in the face” – kudos to them for being honest but I’m still undecided whether that was clever.

What do you think?


Fortunately for Mariella’s curly hair, nerves and anxiety levels, all speakers turned up for her recent event – they were even early. She doesn’t know what to do with the cardboard cut outs now…


Photo Credit: IHSydme2007 via Compfight cc Photo Credit: !AIDH!! via Compfight cc