Archive for October, 2007

PRSA Proceedings – Breakout: Building Trust During a Media Maelstrom

Kami Watson Huyes , one of the volunteer bloggers at the recently-concluded PRSA International Conference 2007 wrote a most timely and thoughtful post on the conference blog.

In that post, Kami reflected on a conference breakout which explored how social media has changed the way organizations communicate during a crisis (the breakout of the catastrophic Californian wildfires being a case-in-point) both from the standpoint of how the authorities and relief agencies disseminate timely information, to how traditional news media gather stories to supplement their reporting.

Do check out Kami’s post here.

P.S. Kami, sorry I wasn’t able to join you at the geek dinner, but I sure hope our paths will cross again.

New Media Communications Course at SMU

The past couple of days have been really exciting for me.  In collaboration with the Civil Service College, I facilitated a two-day New Media Communications Skills course held at the Singapore Management University.

The partipants, drawn from Singapore’s public service, came from diverse organizations such as the Police, National Parks Board (which incidentally, has started two blogs: Young Gardeners and Gardening Voices), and Central Narcotics Bureau.

This hopefully is a seed of a greater awareness of new media culture in the public service.

Here is a YouTube clip of my class.

PRSA International Conference 2007

I am fortunate enough to be sent by my employer to the Public Relations Society of America International Conference 2007 to be held in Philadelphia–the City of Brotherly Love–from Oct 20-23. 

In a sign of the times, this year’s conference will feature numerous sessions focusing on social media and the wide-ranging impact on multiple facets of the profession, from stakeholder engagement to issues management to ROI. 

If you’re attending the conference, please let me know.  It’d be great to connect.

Meanwhile, check out the conference blog at http://www.prsaconf07.info/.

Mattel — A PR Fiasco?

Like many around the world, I grew up being familiar with Mattel toys. It’s a brand that communicates oodles of fun, loads of creativity, and implicit in all these, are that its products are safe even for young children. The nightmare the company has faced with product recalls and a string of apologies has been well-documented.

How did Mattel fare? In China, certainly the state-owned media seem to have injected their own take on the issue. Michael Netzley of Singapore Management University shared his view that Mattel may have lost some control of its message in that market.

That aside, my own view is that on Mattel’s own communication platform–it’s corporate website–it has done a rather laudable job. On the front page is a link to a message from Bob Eckert, its Chairman and CEO, communicating his empathy and commitment to earn back its customers’ trust. More importantly, there is a prominently displayed link to a website–updated in more than 15 languages–explaining what Mattel is doing to assure the safety of its products, an FAQ, a link to media statements, and a videocast from Eckert apologizing for the situation and reiterating his personal commitment to product safety and getting customers to trust Mattel again. A link to Mattel’s customer service portal brings the public to media and consumer relations contacts in key markets around the world.

How did you think Mattel handled the situation in terms of issues and crisis management? And as far as Mattel’s own website is concerned, how do you think it fared in terms of getting the message out and being transparent?


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