When TRS published the story about Twelve Cupcakes alleged exploitation of its foreign workers, its CEO Daniel Ong responded with a ranting email attacking TRS.
This is a rather unusual response as, instead of being interested in setting the record straight, Ong appears to have decided that attacking the messenger's credibility was a good crisis response strategy.
As a reputation management consultant, I must admit that such a strategy does exist in our playbook. However, this strategy is only applicable if the allegations were made by an individual and it is possible to prove the messenger's malicious intent. In this instance, TRS is seen by netizens as a "news" platform and attacking it only makes Ong look foolish.
Alternatively, Ong's response could be an attempt to shift the conversation away from the allegations by baiting TRS into an argument about its status as a news platform. This too is in our playbook, but would only work if TRS was a less established platform and thus likely to take the bait.
Whatever Ong's thinking behind his responses, I must say that the strategy (if there is one) is ill-conceived. Or, if there is no strategy, then he needs to think of one. If Ong is reading this, go to our crisis management framework which we have shared in this blog . . . the "correct" answer is there.