Monday, November 22, 2010

Jonathan Wong MOE Scholar Pleads Guilty to Child Pornography Charges (Part 2)

Having pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography videos, it is likely that Jonathan Wong's scholarship from the Singapore Ministry of Education will be revoked.  In addition, the social stigma of being perceived as a sex offender will stay with him for years to come.  As a young 22 year old with his whole life ahead of him, Jonathan Wong must now manage this crisis to enable himself to rebuild his reputation as well as his life. 

So what must an individual in a situation like this do?

In crisis communication situations involving individuals, it is often the natural instinct for the affected party to avoid the media.  This is based on the belief that avoiding the media will keep the individual "out of the news" which will then allow stakeholder attention to fade away.  This is a mistake.

Unlike the past where news stayed in the publics' eye as long as the newspaper printed the articles, in the era of social media, anything on the Internet is archived indefinitely.  Thus, while avoiding the main stream media may facilitate the fading of media attention, the Jonathan Wong story will remain on the Internet forever.  It is hence my opinion that Jonathan Wong must engage the media to "balance" some of the negative news out on him.

The key take-away for PR Professionals is this.  The information environment has changed.  The practise of avoiding further media attention to allow stakeholder attention to fade is outdated.  In the new/ social media environment, affected stakeholders should not avoid the media, but use it to "tell his side" of the story.

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