Saturday, August 21, 2010

Importance of Selecting the Correct Theme and Messages

Singapore.  (21 August 2010. 1400 hrs).  There was an article in The Straits Times today by Rachel Lin about the current controversy over distance-based fare.  The article attributed the seeds of the controversy to a mis-match between the "lived experience of commuters" against the original message communicated and the official statistics used to support the message.

This case clearly illustrates the importance of not only selecting the correct message to be delivered but the need for the message to be 100% truthful.

According to Rachel Lin, the Public Transport Council (PTC) and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) pitched the more palatable message of fare reduction rather than the true rationale that the new fare structure was the more equitable option.  This was however a rather short-term view of the situation as it would only be a matter of time before the "lived experiences" of commuters differed from that communicated by the authorities.

To me, the main casualty of this controversy is the "power" of official statistics and statements of government officials.  It is my assessment that, henceforth, Singaporeans will view all messages from the PTC and LTA with a pinch of salt.  Trust once lost, is hard to regain.

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