Thursday, February 11, 2016
Do Journalists Make Good Crisis Communications Consultants?
This is a valid question and apparently from the many journalists who have set-up crisis communication firms in Singapore, they think they do. I will not deny that journalists turned crisis communications consultants will have first-hand experience and knowledge about what reporters will find newsworthy and how reporters should be treated, I however have my doubts about their ability to effectively provide strategic counsel in a crisis situation.
I say this not to belittle their experience, but because I believe that crisis communications is not just about media management. Crisis communications is a complex multi-faceted capability where the consultant provides strategic counsel, as well as develops and implements strategies that cover: (a) business continuity; (b) defence against competitor predatory moves; (c) management of shareholders concerns; (d) restoration of employee morale; and (e) mitigation of possible regulatory actions. Just to name a few.
Thus, unless the former journalist has the necessary training and experience, the extent of their strategic counsel would be what to say or not to say to the media. While media management is important, it is only one part of the crisis management process. An organization’s failure to adopt a strategic approach, where all communication actions are acting in synergy, will likely result in a poor crisis response that could impact its financial viability.
It is therefore fair to say that some crisis communication consultants are journalists, but not all journalists are crisis communications consultants.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
As a communications consultant in Singapore, I am always intrigued by how other media consultants brand themselves as the "leading consultant in Singapore." With so many "leading consultants" it makes me wonder how potential clients decide who to hire.
Before I go further, let me state up-front that this will be a biased article. After all, CW Fong & Associates is also competing for the same business.
So how does one select a media consultant in Singapore? I would like to propose that potential clients use the following 3 considerations in making their assessment ....
Actual Credentials. Firstly, clients should take a close look at their credentials of the leading consultants in Singapore that they are considering. Often, a closer look will reveal that these consultants were part of a well-known PR agency or held a senior position in the PR department of large MNC. While, we should not discredit them for their achievements, we should consider the exact role they played in managing a crisis when considering engaging them. We know of many instances where the consultant was not directly involved in the crisis management or, at most played, a minor role. To claim credit for managing a crisis, we believe that the consultant should have been at least the strategic counsel to the CEO. If he or she was not, we doubt that the consultant would have been in a position to shape the media engagement strategy.
Actual Crisis. The second consideration which we believe clients should assess is the type or level of the crisis managed. While crisis do occur, fortunately in Singapore, there are not that many high impact crisis that have strategic implications to an organization. Obviously, the more serious crisis will bring with it a complexity that requires greater knowledge and skills to manage. A consultant who has therefore managed a "strategic crisis" will be better suited to manage other strategic level crisis as they will possess the experience and insights into how government agencies and political office holders respond. Also, having worked with key government officials before, they would have established the necessary network and trust to facilitate the crisis management process.
Local Knowledge. The third consideration we believe clients should look at is the consultants' knowledge of the Singaporean's psyche. Every country is different and the concerns of stakeholders will vary. What works for the US or the UK is unlikely to work in Singapore. Applying the wrong strategy can cause more damage to the organization's reputation. Many international reputation management consultants only maintain a small team of low-level locals. This, unfortunately, will limit their firms' ability to develop effective strategies for a crisis in Singapore. An added advantage of a local consultancy is that they will often have access to the correct communications platforms to effectively engage key stakeholders.
In summary, there are truly many "leading media consultants" in Singapore. Being PR people themselves, it is thus not surprising that they know how to brand themselves. Potential clients looking to hire Singapore's "top media consultant" would do well to assess their consultants on their: (a) actual credential; and (b) actual level and type of experience and type of crisis they have handled. Where possible, we also do suggest that the organization hire local.
Saturday, February 6, 2016
CW Fong & Associates (CWFA) is pleased to announce the successful completion of our Workshop on Media Engagement Strategies for Investment Attraction and Communication. This workshop was conducted under the ambit of the Economic Policy Leaders Programme in Malaysia.
35 senior and mid-level government officials attended the programme where our Trainers equipped them with the knowledge and skills on planning and executing a holistic media engagement strategy to profile Malaysia as a choice destination for investments. Through the integrated use of social and traditional media, participants were taught the principles of branding, synergy marketing and amplification to maximize the impact of their communication efforts.
To date, our Trainers have trained and worked with government officials and information officers from the Ministries and Agencies of the Governments of Singapore, Myanmar, Malaysia and Brunei.
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