Friday, February 24, 2012

Honda Announces Product Recall and See Positive Stock Price Move

As I have identified in my research on the impact of social media on crisis communications, being open and timely are 2 of 5 essential elements in an effective crisis communications plan.

Open.  Adopting an open reporting approach has two main advantages. Firstly, open reporting will establish the company's credibility with stakeholders with regards to their desire to resolve the crisis. This credibility will in turn position any subsequent actions taken positively. Secondly, being proactive in releasing information about the incident will prevent distortion of the facts.  This will allow the company to “frame” the incident in its favor as well as prevent the crisis from spiraling out of control.

Timely.  The timely acknowledgement of an incident, or potential crisis, will enable the company to gain the information initiative.  In addition, as there is usually conflicting information during the early stages of a crisis that causes confusion, the timely release of information will fill this vacuum and reduce distortion of facts.  Putting a “face” to the company also allows the company to establish itself as the primary source of credible information on the crisis.

This is perhaps one good example of how being timely and open not only helps avoid a potential crisis, but builds the brand's reputation.

For the full report click here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Workers' Party: Yaw Shin Leong Saga

I was recently asked for my take on the Workers' Party (WP) long silence and sudden sledgehammer news conference to announce the axing of MP Yaw.  The question was whether it was a communications masterstroke, or late and untimely damage control to mitigate further risk to the erosion of credibility of the WP name.
This was my response ...

Firstly, all crisis communications must be based on the truth.  This is because we now operate in a perfect information environment and a crisis of deceit is much more damaging than a crisis of competence.  Secondly, if crisis communication is based on the truth, then crisis communications is about guiding stakeholders to correctly attribute responsibility to the agency/ organisation or individual responsible.  And, in the instance that your organization is responsible, to help stakeholders deal with their anger.  Thirdly, as a theory, we must understand stakeholders attribute responsibility based on the factors of (a) locus of control; (b) predictability; and (c) controllability.

With these three thoughts in mind, I believe that the WP’s initial silence on this matter was the correct strategy as it was meant to separate the individual’s action from that of the party’s.  Based on attribution theory, if Yaw had come out to face the issue on his own, I believe that the fall-out to WP would have been minimal.  After all, it was something beyond the locus of control of the WP and it was not something the WP could not reasonably have been expected to control.

However, as time passed and there were increasing calls for him to address the issue, Yaw’s continued refusal to face up to the matter, then morphed the issue from the “act of an individual” to one in which the WP’s credibility was questioned.  Hence, in light of Yaw’s refusal to address the issue and his departure from the country, the WP had no other choice but to further separate itself from Yaw.

Overall, notwithstanding Khaw Boon Wan’s comments for the WP to come clean, I think the WP has handled this crisis well and I doubt that the WP will suffer from this crisis.  On the contrary, I think the WP will emerge stronger.  Kudos to the team at WP.

(For the latest thoughts in crisis communications in the era of social media, 'like' our Facebook page

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Social Media has fundamentally changed in the information environment in which we operate.  Crisis communications strategies that do not reflect the new environment are at best ineffective, and at worse disastrous.  This 1-Day workshop is designed for for Managers and PR Professionals who are responsible for the reputation and brand of their company. 

Who Should Attend

This course is designed for Managers who are responsible for the reputation and brand of their company.

What I Will Learn

At the end of the 1-day workshop, participants will:
  • understand social media's impact on crisis communications
  • understand the nature of a crisis
  • identifying Stakeholder issues/ concerns
  • learn how to develop Themes and Messages
  • use frameworks to manage a crisis – Attribution Theory
  • use framework to manage negative blog postings or online Mentions – SCAER
  • understand the Singapore media environment and the Media's 'agendas'
  • learn how to deliver your message in a media interview
  • learn how to handle “sensitive” questions during a media interview
How I Will Learn

During the workshop, participants will be trained using:

  • Multi-media Presentation
  • Group discussions
  • Discussions
  • Practicals (supported by video recording and play-back for debriefing and coaching where necessary)
Trainer's Profile

CW has extensive experience in the planning and execution of corporate/ crisis communications for the Singapore Armed Forces. In the span of his military career, CW has successfully led communication teams in major incidences and events, at both the national level and international levels, to protect the reputation of the Singapore Armed Forces and the Republic of Singapore.

Besides being trained and certified by the Institute of Public Relations Singapore (IPRS) in Public Relations and Mass Communications, CW graduated top of his class in the United States Army's Psychological Operations Course. An Associate Member of the IPRS, CW contributes to the Institute's newsletter on topics related to crisis communications.

As part of the US-based International Consortium for Organisational Resilience (ICOR) efforts to establish a base in Asia, CW is ICOR's only accredited trainer for the region. To stay current and professionally updated on developments in crisis communications, CW spends 20% of his time researching and writing on crisis communications for leading HR magazines, professional newsletters and his blog titled Crisis Communications in the Era of Social Media.

As the former Head of the Singapore Armed Force's Information Support Branch, CW was responsible for the training of selected military officers in crisis communications during military operations. During his tour of duty, CW has successfully trained in excess of 1,000 personnel.

- Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, University of San Francisco
- Certificate in Public Relations and Mass Communications, Institute of Public Relations, Singapore (IPRS)
- Accredited Crisis Communications Planning Trainer, The International Consortium for Organisational Resilience
- Distinguished Honor Graduate, US Psychological Operations Qualification Course
- Certified Arbinger Facilitator for Leadership and Self-Deception, Arbinger SEA
- Accredited Human Resource Professional, Singapore Human Resource Institute

- Various appointments in the Singapore Armed Force's Army Information Centre including Head of the Information Support Branch
- Head Media Team, Inaugural Youth Olympic Games 2010 Opening Ceremony
- Deputy Head Information Team for SAF Humanitarian Assistance Support Group during the Indonesian Tsunami of 2004
- Published writer with works on Crisis Communications featured in Human Resource Magazine, Professional Newsletters and blog (

Workshop Fees are $580 and course is capped at max 20 participants. To sign-up, email me at

LEADING IN CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS: 2-Day In-House Workshop in Kuala Lumpur (16th and 17th Feb 2012)

Organized by TraPezoiD, the Workshop was attended by over 20 members of the senior management team of a multi-national FMCG company.

At the end of the workshop, the GCEO remarked that his company was "now better prepared to deal with crisis scenarios."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

KFC Malaysia Crisis: I-City KL Incident of Customer Assault

KFC Malaysia has once again been thrown into the limelight. On 7 Feb 2012, a video was uploaded showing a KFC employee assaulting a customer at its I-City Kuala Lumpur outlet. KFC Malaysia responded promptly to the incident by posting a video message by its Deputy President on its Facebook page.

The message in KFC's Facebook video was (a) we regret and acknowledge the incident; (b) we are conducting an internal investigation and have suspended the employees involved; (c) a police report has been made; (d) we constant train and monitor our staff but our system failed us in this instance: and (e) we will learn and improve to prevent it from occurring again. A quick analysis of online reaction to KFC Malaysia's response shows that netizens are still angry.

So where did KFC Malaysia go wrong? Let's conduct a Stakeholder Analysis and see how KFC Malaysia could have done better …

If you look at the Stakeholder Analysis, the Stakeholders had two main issues/ concerns - customer safety at KFC outlets and whether KFC Malaysia would cover-up the incident.

Hence, if you look at KFC Malaysia’s response, you will realise that it did not fully address stakeholder concerns resulting in continued anger by netizens. Using the Stakeholder Analysis as a basis, KFC Malaysia’s key messages should have been as follows:

(a) KFC Malaysia acknowledges and regrets the incident;
(b) KFC Malaysia takes the safety of its customers and employees very seriously; and
(c) KFC Malaysia will deal with this incident in an open, firm and fair manner and asks for the public’s patience and understanding.

An important point that was not reflected in KFC Malaysia’s response is that to their internal stakeholders. Perhaps they did communicate it, but we are not privy to it, but I believe that customer and employee safety are equally important messages. While the customer is always right, it does not give them the right to abuse an employee. Thus, I believe it is important that any KFC response emphasizes “KFC Malaysia takes the safety of its customers and employees very seriously” and that “KFC Malaysia will deal with this incident in an open, firm and fair manner.” The latter message being to reassure employees that KFC Malaysia will not unfairly discipline its employees for the sake of a customer.

(Note: Join us on our Facebook page for the latest thoughts in crisis communications in the era of social media)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

IPRS Workshop: Being on the RIght Side of a Crisis

Continuing Education

As Henry Ford once said: "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young."

Attending workshops to stay up to date on industry thoughts ...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Translation ...

It feels good when your work is translated into a foreign language ... :-)

Victim of Online Vigilantism in Singapore - What should you do?

Over the weekend, a sales manager became the latest victim of online vigilantism in Singapore. He was on his way to trading in his BMW 5 S...