Within hours, news of the incident had gone viral and Singaporeans jumped on the bandwagon to criticise Rui En. Unfortunately, in today's social media world, being prominent means you are guilty.
In our assessment, Rui En's PR team did well as they were quick to put out Rui En's side of the story, even though it bordered on sub judice. Having Rui En's side of the story out provided her supporters with a common message to counter the negative (and distorted) stories online. This resulted in a more balanced account of the incident being circulated online.
Contrast this to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib's response to accusations related to 1MDB. PM Najib remained silent and this allowed his detractors to continually build a narrative against him. As his supporters did not know what to say online, they were sidelined and essentially conceded the online space. Eventually when PM Najib did speak, the narrative against him was so strong and pervasive that it became impossible to turn.
The key lesson for crisis communicators is this ... Get your story out and get it out early. Doing this will enable you, and your supporters, to push your side of the story. Even if the story sounds ridiculous, it gives your supporters something to cling onto and use in your defence. We strongly believe that, like the Rui En example, proactive messaging is important to control the online space in a crisis.