Kudos to Najib for ordering Ministers to undergo media training

Malysians are so unfair. Even when the PM is doing the right thing they criticise him. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has certainly taken a step in the right direction by directing his Ministers to undergo media training (see Malaysian Insider story below).

Media Training, to those who are not familiar with it, is essentially media handling skills training. Participants learn how to handle the media through messaging, bridging, turning negatives into positives, staying on message, repetition and a whole lot of other skills.

Most PR agencies provide this training, but few do it well. That is, I think, is because they do not emphasise enough the need for the trainees to be genuine in what they say and to be likeable by attuning themselves to the needs and wants of their audience. The public today is not gullible enough any more and they can smell bullshit from a mile away.

As a result, they often turn out a highly skilled, but morally and empathically empty practitioner. Something like a kung fu exponent without the wisdom and integrity to guide them.

To see an example of how little knowledge can be a dangerous thing when not accompanied by sincerity and integrity you need not go further than the example set by the UK’s opposition leader Ed Milliband

As you can see, a highly trained monkey is still a monkey that convinces no one, even though he can end up very entertaining.

How well the Malaysian Ministers turn out will depend on who they are at heart. To a certain extent it will depend on who their trainers are and how brave they are at pointing out the weaknesses of the ministers they train (such as the over-the-top defensiveness of most of them).

Still, credit where credit is due, and Najib deserves praise for issuing the directive. If he included a lobotomy for the Ministers, it would have increased the chances of success. like public speaking and other skills, you can learn many tricks but ultimately your performance hinges on one thing – your character.

In the meantime, Keep Calm and Eat Kangkung.

To avoid more gaffes, ministers to learn to speak sensibly – The Malaysian Insider

Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor had come under fire for his remarks on the hike in assessment rates. – The Malaysian Insider pic, January 26, 2014.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak has directed mandatory media training for his ministers to prevent more missteps that have made his administration a laughing stock among Malaysians, sources said.

The prime minister\’s second term has been marked by “foolish” remarks from several ministers that spawned Internet memes and jokes detrimental to Putrajaya’s image, the sources told The Malaysian Insider.

“The prime minister wants ministers to undergo media training to avoid repeatedly delivering foolish remarks,” said a source on the condition of anonymity.

“We do not want Putrajaya’s image spoilt because of statements given by ministers like Ku Nan and Hasan Malek,” the source added.

The source was referring to Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Hasan Malek’s reminder that people should be thankful for having “sincere” leaders who “prioritise people’s needs” above all else, as quoted by Umno mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia.

Read more.

Posted in Indonesia | Leave a comment

Anton Casey: Incorrigible prat or victim of poor PR advice?

Anton Casey is now a household name to Singaporeans and gone viral around the world. For those of you still in the Dark Ages, Casey is the prat of an Englishman who insulted Singaporeans by calling MRT commuters on the island poor and other insults through his Facebook postings.

When he and his family (he used a photo of his son on the MRT and later in his repaired Porsche to heap insults on the local population), understandably, received death threats, Casey closed his Facebook account and went into hiding after the details of where he stays and where he works as well as past interviews his former Miss Singapore wife made against local men were excavated and posted on the net.

A day later he hired a PR firm, Fulford PR, to convey his apologies to the Singapore people. His apology came up short and came across as insincere  and an attempt at renegaging responsibility and contrition via a poor PR effort (read Unspun here).

As a result, the backlash against him continues to rage and boil with even Singaporean foreign minister K. Shanmugam joining in the chorus of criticisms against Casey’s perceived insincerity and contrition.

What did Casey do wrong in his PR offensive? Simple (and he should ask for his money back from the PR firm he hired for not giving him good advice).

All he had to do was to adhere to the 3Rs of crisis communication that any PR consultant worth his salt should know about – Regret, Reason and Remedy.

Regret – Express remorse, but you need to do it personally and in a heartfelt manner. People are exceptionally good at detecting insincerity. Casey should have written to The Straits Times himself to apologise. The language he used should also be direct and without any fluff. The sentence, presumably penned by his PR advisors, was that “I would like to express my sincere apology to the people of Singapore.” That sounds like a robot or corporate automaton issuing an apology. No rap human who’s really sorry talks that way. They usually say something like: “I am very sorry…I regret my actions..”

But even if he did that it would by itself not be enough to exonerate him. This is because crisis situations like this require him to address the emotions. He should have appeared on TV or released a video of his apology, looking sincerely contrite and saying so in a direct and ernest manner.”

Reason – In his video and letter he would also need to address the why or what led him to this action. In tho he could say that he did not know what came over him, or better still had a misadjusted sense of humour that he now realised could be offensive and wrong.

Remedy – he needed also to tell his audience that he was now seeking psychological counseling or other professional help to make sure that he does not do such a silly thing again.

If he had been advised by his PR handlers to say all this – and also been advised by them that it would only work if he was sincere about the 3Rs or it would not work – then there was a good chance that the would not be reaping the whirlwind even now.

Casey is stupid and insensitive but if he had had good advice he could have mitigated much of the reaction against him. Or maybe he got good advice but ignored them? If that’s the case then he deserves everything he gets. And then some.

(For the sake of clarity, let me reiterate the point I am making here. Casey, if he was genuinely contrite, could have saved himself from the widespread and continued animosity he is receiving if he had good good PR advice and followed them. If he is not genuinely contrite then no amount of PR, no matter how good his advisors are, can help him. At which case the PR firm should immediately resign the account if they value their own reputation.  They should know something about crisis management since they were bold enough to prescribe what the SMRT should do when it faced a crisis here).

Posted in Indonesia | 1 Comment

Are Buzzers worth hiring at all?

The real question that needs to be asked is: “Are Buzzers worth hiring at all?”

All but the most naive of Indonesia’s Twittersphere have come to realise that these Buzzers are all hired guns and will tweet on any product – politicians, soap, aphrodisiacs, milk, slimming powders, you name it – for the right price.

Knowing this they don’t believe them or are not influenced by their endorsers. So why pay for buzzers at all?

The reason why so many politicians and brand managers still do is that they are lazy and have no clue how to connect with today’s savvy, hyperlinked and skeptical audiences.

They can’t get their act together to figure who their actual audience is, what makes them tick and how generate their own content that is relevant and engaging.

So they take the easy way out and hire Buzzers. The question that arises here is why aren’t the CEOs wise to this and put a stop to this futile practice?

Media monitor gives Twitter advice to political parties | The Jakarta Post.

Political parties and politicians need to consider more than just how many followers as Twitter user has when looking at hiring “buzzers” for the 2014 general election, a media monitoring company says.

“The number of followers alone does not guarantee the success of engagement created via the buzzer. There are other factors to analyze and measure,” Awesometrics business analyst Hari Ambari said in an official release on Wednesday.

Awesometrics gave a number of examples, such as actor Ringgo Agus Rahman who charged Rp 5 million per message on Twitter to promote a campaign to his 1.7 million followers, while professional corporate worker Henry Manampiring could charge between Rp 5 million and Rp 15 million to “buzz” his 70,000-plus followers.

The comparison clearly showed that users with larger amounts of followers did not always receive higher prices for a “buzz”.

Hari said political parties and politicians who wished to use buzzers had to consider four other factors: the Twitter user’s potential reach, reputation, usual topics and engagement with their followers.

 

Posted in ask the right question, communications, Indonesia, Marketing, Media, Media Convergence, politics, Twitter | Leave a comment

The pigs whose faces could not be seen

Oh Lawd! You’d think that God had no hand in creating pigs. If you’re a believer, of course. If you’re not you’d probably wonder what porcine mentality inhabits the works at KHL Printing Company.

Do they think that Muslims would somehow be defiled if they chanced on a photo of a pig? And why only the faces of pigs? Why not the pot bellies and teats hanging from the underbellies? Sure if anything is to give offence they would be the items to do that rather than those cute faces.

But such is the Malaysia we have. Its been like this for a long time but lately its been shoved deeper into the sty and as a result there’s a lot of hogwash there.

Pig faces blacked-out in Malaysian edition of New York Times | Malaysia | The Malay Mail Online.

A copy of an article in the Malaysian edition of the International New York Times on January 22, 2014 shows images of pig faces being blacked out.A copy of an article in the Malaysian edition of the International New York Times on January 22, 2014 shows images of pig faces being blacked out.KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 22 — Seemingly innocuous pictures of pigs in the front and middle pages of today’s International New York Times (NYT) have been blacked out in the Malaysian edition of the paper, raising both amusement and concern among readers.

A frontpage story in the international newspaper featured a picture of piglets standing in the snow but the printers of the Malaysian edition, KHL Printing Co, had blacked out the faces of each animal.

A continuation of the story about rising demand for pigs reared in the open on page 19 of the paper got the same treatment, with the faces of two adult pigs blacked out.

A representative from the printing company based in Shah Alam told the Malay Mail Online in a telephone conversation that pictures of pigs are not allowed in a Muslim country like Malaysia.

“From last time also we do this. If there is picture of nudes or like this we will cover. This is a Muslim country,” the spokesman said when asked why the faces of the pigs had been censored.

In standard English, his remark would translate as: “We’ve been doing this for some time. We block out pictures of nudes and things like these. This is a Muslim country.”

 

Posted in Malaysia, shit-for-brains | Leave a comment

A cautionary tale for expats in Asia

Don’t shit where you live and work sounds like common sense. We all now, however, that common sense is not common. But when this surfeit is combined with the sensitivity of a prat, the mixture is disastrous.

Take the case of Anton Casey, a well-heeled expat banker in Singapore, who has been raising heckles in Singapore lately with his smug arrogance and insensitive remarks.

The story of how Casey almost singlehandedly manages to piss off a whole nation by calling them “poor” because they could not afford a Porsche, and then rubbed salt in the wound by posting a video blaming the Singapore’s parents for raising them as “wusses” is told in the Straits Times story below and other blog posting (see here and here), so Unspun does not need to delve into it.

Flash to yesterday. After, understandably, receiving death threats and wholesale abuse Casey finally wakes up to the fact that he’s done something not too clever. So what does he do?

He hires a PR firm to help him send an apology in the form oaf a press release to the Singaporean people in the Straits Times and, apparently, to do the dog’s work of contacting social media users to take down their postings about Casey.

Not a smart move. Especially when the PR agency can’t even write a proper press  release that sounds anything remotely like a contrite human being. The release apparently quoted casey saying: “I would like to extend a sincere apology to the people of Singapore.” (Italics mine)

Would like? To extend a sincere apology? Who talks like this? Would like signals his intention, doesn’t mean that he’s apologising. Extend a sincere (as opposed to insincere) apology.

How about: “I am deeply sorry” instead?

And what’s wrong with this man, who presumably has had more than rudimentary education, that he cannot write the letter himself and ask the PR company to use their contacts to send it to the paper’s editors?

It looks like Casey’s travails are not over as many Singaporeans won’t see this as enough contrition to forgive him. This is exacerbated by the fact that many Singaporans, except for the very well off, are feeling the economic pinch of escalating prices, limited professional opportunities and the pressure of keeping up with the pristine and success self-image that the Government carefully encourages and nurtures in its citizens.

All this has also bred envy and resentment against expats, euphemistically called foreign talents, in Singapore. The popular local perception is that all expats get lucrative and perk-filled work packages that most of the time are unjustified. This is not quite accurate although all it takes here is for a few rotten apples to spoil the whole basket.

And when rotten, boorish apples like Casey get on social media and trumpet their ignorance, the rest of the expats, many of whom are very professional, totally integrated into local society and very decent people, can only cringe.

Hopefully the rest of us would remember not to shit where we live and work.

British expat, husband of former Miss Singapore, apologises for calling commuters “poor people”.

An expatriate who referred to commuters on public transport as “poor people” in his Facebook post has apologised on Tuesday in a statement sent to the press.

British national Anton Casey, who is married to former Miss Singapore Universe Bernice Wong, added that he and his family had received death threats and that he had exercised “poor judgment” in his earlier comments.

In a statement issued through Fulford Public Relations, he said: “I would like to extend a sincere apology to the people of Singapore.”

Mr Casey, who apparently drives a Porsche, added: “In the past 24 hours due to a security breach of my personal Facebook page and the misuse of an old video by unknown sources, my family and especially my Singaporean son have suffered extreme emotional and verbal abuse online.”

The online roasting started following the circulation of a couple of Mr Anton Casey’s Facebook posts which sported insensitive comments. A YouTube video of him in what seemed like a taunting response to his detractors, was also blasted by netizens.

Posted in blogging, Public Relations, shit-for-brains | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The Monk who gave up (potentially) a few hundred Ferraris

Respect. Ajahn Siripanno looks like one of those rare individuals who either have a huge amount of courage, or are disturbed enough by the dhukka in this world to renounce a life where Daddy’s millions of dollars would guarantee him a comfortable of not lavish life.

Of great interest to Unspun is the catalyst that started Ajahn Siripanno on the Middle Path – Ajahn Chah. If you haven’t heard of the man or his teachings you an now access them in English through a podcast on iTunes (link here). Unspun, ever life’s pilgrim, came across Ajahn Chah from his disciple Ajan Brahm who wrote a marvellous book on meditation and has podcasts of his own as well.

Heartening to see that in there are those who show us the way. One day we might gather enough courage to follow these footsteps.

Modern Age Siddharta Gautama – Giving Up Billions and Lead a Life of Monkhood.

With his father, Ananda Ajahn Siripanno is a humble Theravada Buddhist monk from Thailand. He was educated in the UK and can speak 8 different languages. He is the one and only son of the second richest man in Malaysia, T. Ananda Krishnan, a low profile successful businessman that has business interest in media, oil and gas, telecommunications, gaming, entertainment and property. A

nanda Krishnan is estimated to have a net worth of US$9.6 billions according to Forbess 2012 world wealthiest people. He ranks the second richest man in Malaysia while at the number of 89 in the world.Ajahn Siripannos mother is a Thai and he has two other sisters.

It was during a retreat in Thailand where he wanted to pay homage to his mothers family and took up temporary ordination as a Thai forest monk. He was eighteen then 1989 and growing up in UK has made him quite open to different culture and to him the temporary ordination could be something fun. That was the first time he encountered Buddhism, something that was very new to him.

It is a culture for the Thais where the male will join the Sangha not compulsory for a short period of time before returning to ordinary life.With his father, Ananda. His aim during that time was simple and according to a talk that he gave at Maha Vihara, a Theravada Buddhist Temple in Malaysia, some years ago, his initial plan was to stay in the forest for just two weeks. He had never thought of becoming a forest monk would be his life career.

What had really moved his heart was none other than visiting and learning how Ajahn Chah had done to the Sangha community during that time.Ajahn Chah was a well-known Theravada monk and he had many followers/disciples from the West. Some of his most famous diciples include Ajahn Sumedho, Ajahn Amaro, Ajahn Khemadhammo, Ajahn Brahm and Jack Kornfield a notable author and meditation instructor.

However, his hope of learning directly from Ajahn Chah shattered because this great master was already very ill. He could hardly talk and needed aids moving around on his wheelchair. Ajahn Siripanno only had the chance to meet him once but the impact that had on him was huge. It was a life changing moment!

What he experienced during the stay at the forest temple had totally changed his perception towards Buddhism and monkhood. The initial two weeks plan had now become a permanent one. He had never look back and after more than two decades, he is now an abbot of Dhao Dham Monastery, located in National Forest Reserve near Thai-Myanmar border.

Ajahn Siripanno is still in contact with his father and, which his father will visit him from time to time. It is the top priority for all Buddhist followers to practice filial piety and monks are not exceptional too. There was a time when Ajahn Siripanno travelled in his fathers private jet to Italy as he was requested by his father to spend some time with him for his 70th anniversary.

This humble monk with only a robe and a small tote bag drew quite a lot of attention during the stay in one of the finest hotel in Italy. The story that you might have read over the net about a monk that travelled in a private jet was none other than Ajahn Siripanno.

Nothing VS EverythingCan you imagine how a young man could give up everything billions and lead a simple life as a forest monk?

Note that a Theravada tradition monk only eats once a day and after 12 noon, they are prohibited to consume any solid food.It is quite normal for a young man from rich family to enjoy his luxurious life; driving a sports car, wearing fancy clothing and of course with a hot lady sitting at the side.

However, an exceptional one will truly choose an extraordinary path of life and Ajahn Siripanno is one of the least examples of the Modern Age Siddharta Gautama.Below is the talk that given by Ajahn Siripanno at Maha Vihara, Brickfields, Malaysia, 2010. There he shared about the teachings of Ajahn Chah and what he encountered during his first visit at the forest Shangha community. The title of the talk is Timeless Teachings of Ajahn Chah.

Posted in Malaysia, personal, Religion | 1 Comment

Answer me a question for Indonesia’s 2014 polls

This is an article on the Indonesian media and the run-up  to the 2014 Presidential elections  that I co-wrote with my colleague and media strategist Iwan Kurniawan for latest edition of Tempo English.

Agree, disagree?

Tempo article

 

Page 2

 

 

 

Posted in communications, Indonesia, politics, Public Relations, Social Media | Leave a comment