Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bedok Residences Queue: Real Interest or Marketing Gimmick?

Some have begun questioning whether the demand for units at Bedok Residence was genuine or merely a publicity gimmick.  These doubts were raised when it was reported in The Straits Times that some students and foreign workers were paid to wait in line.

In response to these questions, CapitaLand's CEO Wong Heang Fine issued a response via the Straits Times forum page.  Wong's response essentially said that "by 5 pm of the first day, 350 of the 450 units released for sale was sold," which thus supports the view that "the queue comprises genuine prospective buyers."

From the crisis communications perspective, while I assess that CapitaLand correctly identified stakeholders' concerns and managed to address it via direct refutation using facts, I however feel that CapitaLand 's response could have been raised a notch if it had first empathized with the stakeholders.

This is because I strongly believe that every crisis is both a threat and opportunity.  Seeking first to build empathy before delivering your message will build valuable reputational credit and position CapitaLand as the developer of choice.  In short, paid publicity is expensive and companies should seek to integrate its marketing and communications functions to leverage on each other.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Singapore Hawker in Jackpot Dispute with Marina Bay Sands (MBS)

The Straits Times today reported that Marina Bay Sands (MBS) has decided to pay Madam Choo Hong Eng the full sum of S$416,742.11.  The dispute between Madam Choo (a Hawker) and MBS arose when Madma Choo hit the jackpot but was subsequently told by the casino that her machine had malfunctioned.  Instead of the sum of $416,742.11 (which was displayed on the machine), MBS offered Madam Choo a sports car worth S$258,962 and S$50,000 in cash.
In its statement to the media, MBS spokesperson explained that "Marina Bay Sands regrets any confusion over the numbers displayed when Madam Choo Hong Eng won the Lotus Evora slot jackpot in our casino.  After carefully reviewing this matter, Marina Bay Sands will pay the patron the amount that was displayed on the slot machine."   The spokesperson added: "We deeply regret the inconveniences caused."
From a Crisis Communications perspective, I find MBS’ initial response lacking in forethought as the outcome in which MBS paid Madam Choo the full sum was inevitable.  I believe the outcome was inevitable as a quick calculation shows the difference to be a mere $107,780 - a minor sum compared to the amount required to repair the casino’s reputation.  In my opinion, MBS was in a no-win situation as even if the Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) ruled in its favour, the negative publicity would have done its damage.
While I agree that the casino needs to protect its shareholders’ interests by ensuring that all jackpot payments are “legitimate”, from the facts of the case as presented in the media, I feel that MBS should have just paid Madam Choo the full sum in the first instance and avoided the negative publicity.  In fact, an astute PR department would have been able to turn the incident in MBS’ favour by showing how MBS valued its patrons.
To me, the key lesson for PR Professionals and Crisis Communicators is that sometimes being “right” is not the most important.  This is because businesses are profit-driven and sometimes the “right” decision is what impacts the bottom-line the least.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Workshop: Managing your Online Reputation in the Era of Social Media

Synopsis: The proliferation of Social Media has impacted the way individuals receive information. Unfortunately many organizations are still relying on out-dated techniques and approaches to manage their reputation. This workshop will (a) explain how Social Media's impact has changed the information environment; and (b) present a framework which organizations can use to manage their online reputation.

Who Should Attend: Individuals who are responsible for the reputation of their organizations.

Date: 16 Jan 2012

Time: 3-5pm

Venue: Institute of Adult Learning

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Announcement: Crisis Communications Consulting Firm

I am now on Facebook!!!

In response to demands for my Crisis Communications Workshops, I have established a boutique consultancy to serve my growing client list.  To stay updated on the latest thoughts and discussions on Crisis Communications in the Era of Social Media, as well as Workshops and Training Courses, do join me on Facebook.

Thanks for your continued support.


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