Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Reputation Management: Underage Sex Scandal Singapore

In court cases, the first (and natural) instinct of those being prosecuted is to hide from the media.  This is done with the hope of keeping ones’ picture and name from being publicized so as to protect ones’ reputation.

While the “hiding” approach is a viable option in some court cases, it is unfortunately not applicable in high-profile cases when media interest is intense.  In high-profile court cases, the media is likely to provide extensive coverage and reporters will pursue any and all leads to scoop the story.  Under these circumstances, it is inevitable that the accused’s name and picture will be revealed and my advice to clients is to fight their natural instinct to hide and go on the offensive.

Taking the offensive will provide the client the following 2 advantages:

a.            Dictate and Frame the Story.  By going on the offensive, the client gets to dictate the time and place of the story.  This is important as the client can choose a favorable time to tell his story.  Additionally, but coming forward, the client will be able to choose a “sympathetic” reporter who will then enable the client to more effectively tell his side of the story.  In contrast, if the client avoids the media, the media will report whatever they can uncover including inaccuracies that may be detrimental to the client.

b.            Position for Post-Trial.  In some court cases, the client’s reputation will be damaged no matter what the legal outcome.  In such cases, I advise client to set aside their desire to protect their current reputation, and to focus on developing a new post-trial reputation.  Using the underage sex scandal as an example, seeking continued employment post-trial is a definite priority.  To do this, the client humanize themselves by portraying themselves as persons of character who made a mistake.  Former principal Lee Lip Hong’s and Howard Shaw’s decision to admit their mistake, take their punishment and move on with their lives earned the respect of many and the positive spin will, in my opinion, facilitate their reintegration into society.

In short, protecting ones’ reputation in a court case is sometimes not about hiding from the media.  In circumstances where hiding from the media is not an option, going on the offensive is a better strategy than waiting for the proverbial other shoe to fall.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses (Singapore)

Social Media has levelled the playing field.  In the era of social media, savvy use of social media will enable any small business to compete on an equal footing against any multi-national corporation.  Big advertising budgets is no longer a strategic marketing edge as the cost per byte on cyberspace is the same to everyone.

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Singapore Elections: Hougang By-Election 2012

The Hougang by-election provides another classic example on the need to thoroughly understand your target audience.  This is because selected themes and messages can only be effective against a "vulnerability."  For example, offering a target audience something he does not need or want will not motivate him to do what you want.

The following is my quick analysis of the likely effect of the People's Action Party (PAP) and Worker's Party's (WP) election themes and messages ...

PAP Theme/ Message. The PAP's strategy is to exploit the WP's success in the last GE where the WP won a GRC - this has put substantially more "opposition" in Parliament. As such, the PAP is adopting a theme targeting the self-interest of Hougang residents by "localising" it (i.e. not about having an opposition in Parliament as the WP already has a GRC) and making it about "meeting the needs of residents."

Target Audience Assessment. Using the outcome of the Potong Pasir elections as a reference to understand voter psyche, voters are primarily driven by self-interest. They are however willing to vote opposition if the opposition candidate is (a) credible; and (b) can meet the needs of residents provided it is not too far off the norm (norm defined as the perceived benefits of being a PAP ward). This willingness to accept slightly less than PAP wards is balanced by voters desire for an alternative voice in parliament.

Assessment of WP Theme/ Message. My assessment is that WP is continuing with the age old theme of "being a bastion" for democracy. The danger with this theme/ message is that one of the main conditions which prompted Hougang voters to vote opposition in the previous GE is no longer present. In the last GE, it was commonly believed that the WP had a slim chance of winning a GRC. Hence, Hougang residents continued to vote WP to ensure that at least the WP would be in parliament. Now that WP has a GRC, this need is no longer there and self-interest is likely to prevail.

I believe that the PAP has correctly identified that this election will be won by the candidate who can best meet the needs of residents as the issue of democracy is no longer on the table. For WP to win, my believe is that the WP's primary platform must focus on the self-interest of voters with democracy being a secondary theme. As such, I believe the more effective Theme/ Messages for the WP is to focus on (a) demonstrating how Hougang is on par with or better than the PAP-held wards; and (b) play up the familiarity of the WP with Hougang and hence the WP's ability to meet the needs of the residents. The latter message not only counters the PAP's message, but also plays into basic psychology where people are generally resistant to change.

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...