Last August, my colleague Kelly O’Donnell blogged about a promotion that went terribly awry.  Twitch streamer Kai Cenat had announced to his millions of followers on social media that he was giving away PlayStation 5 consoles at a certain time in Union Square in New York.  Unfortunately, but perhaps predictably, a “chaotic melee” by his fans ensued at the event and Cenat was charged with inciting a riot.  An unhappy end to what was undoubtedly supposed to be a great PR move by Cenat and a fun experience for his followers.

Now, there’s an update: the Manhattan DA (otherwise busy with the Trump falsified documents case) has announced that the case against Cenat will be dropped in exchange for Cenat’s payment of $55,000 in restitution for the damage caused (plus $2,000 from two others charged) and a public apology, posted (of course) on social media. Honestly, his apology is a lesson for all of us active on social, even if our words are not inciting a riot: “I have learned a very valuable lesson that social media is a very powerful tool to do good, but it can also cause dangerous, unwanted situations if it is not used properly.”

Aside from a good lesson in the power of social media and unintended consequences, what else does this promotion-gone-awry teach us?  First, as Kelly explained in her own post, there are a number of important planning steps that sponsors should implement for a IRL giveaway, from getting permits, to controlling the distribution of information to limiting the number of people likely to turn up on the day of the promotion, to choosing a public spot that is, well, perhaps a little less public (or, at least, perhaps a little harder to get to than a spot at the intersection of several subway lines) in order to reduce the likely number of attendees.  These steps won’t make the giveaway any sexier, to be sure, but they can help keep the excitement at a more manageable level. And big post promotion PR is fine!

Also, that Cenat was able to avoid prosecution for what was reported to be a very destructive (and avoidable) event perhaps even demonstrates the power of an apology. Other sponsors of ill-planned promotions have often done likewise: quickly owned the mistake and publicly apologized for it.  Some have also made charitable contributions to atone for their promotions sins and offered refunds or coupons to unhappy consumers.  Such actions, even if not guaranteed insulation from a horde of enraged consumers on social media (or regulators or even class action lawyers), may help at least to bring down the temperature and restore a company’s (or Twitch streamer’s) reputation.