What should you do when a major crisis erupts? How can you counter the wave of negative public opinions that emerge, especially online?
Well, it really depends on the circumstances. As the saying goes, having the best hammer doesn’t mean that every problem is a nail. Similarly, managing communication crises requires you to first diagnose the cause and effect of the issue before prescribing the right public relations strategy.
Many would know that these are challenging times. The financial markets have collapsed, retirees are losing their life savings in complex derivative financial products, inflation has reared its ugly head, and the China melamine milk scare has seized many with fear. According to many economists, the prognosis is bleak for the next two years or so. Friends in the financial sector have also told me that the prospect of losing their jobs are very real.
Against such a gloom and doom scenario, what can one do? Is there any light at the end of the tunnel? My answer is yes. Depending on your experience and training, there are opportunities out there if you know how to seize them.
My family and I went for a short break recently in Bangkok during the New Year’s Eve and New Year period. Probably one of the few holidays that we will remember for a long time but not for the reasons you imagine.
Everybody who has been following the news will know that this was the exact same period of time when nine bombs went off recently hours before the countdown in Bangkok. This led to an outcry amongst the politicians, especially ousted Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra, who violently objected to being linked to this. There is now a big debate going on about who was responsible for this spate of violence, with at least many believing that it was not the work of the Southern Muslim insurgents whom Thaksin tried hard to quell.
While we were there on NYE, we heard from the locals that the countdown party at Central World Plaza just a stone’s throw away from our service apartment at Centrepoint Langsuan was cancelled. The reason? Nine bombings calculated to sour the mood for New Year celebrations in one of Southeast Asia’s most happening party city.
Hotel front office staff, taxi drivers, restaurant owners and the like were chatting about it like it was just part and parcel of their everyday lives. According to one cab driver, “this is just part of life in Bangkok. No problem.” No wonder, considering how many hoaxes and bombings take place here regularly.
On that night itself, we were celebrating our first New Year’s Eve away from Singapore at a fancy Italian restaurant along swanky Langsuan Road (just a short walk from our service apartment). Amidst chasing after my son Ethan, having a few sips of wine (and later beer in the apartment room), and enjoying the huge T-bone steak in from of me, we were mostly nonchalant to the acts of terrorism. We even saw the fireworks going off in a few places, at Chao Phraya River and the urban city centre while sipping beer and watching movie reruns. It was only later as we gradually found about the extent of the damage that we sobered up a little.