What I wrote in the Maverick blog today. Journalists are getting Covid and this causes many of them financial difficulties.
Many companies expect their help in publicising their messages in good times. Now when times are tough, they need out help
What I wrote in the Maverick blog today. Journalists are getting Covid and this causes many of them financial difficulties.
Many companies expect their help in publicising their messages in good times. Now when times are tough, they need out help
This is a post I wrote for our company’s blog
Those who have an interest in media handling skills would find this interview — between the BBC’s Rebecca Henschke and Terry Filbert, the CEO of Baru Gold Corp that runs Tambang Mas Sangihe — a masterclass on what and how not to say things.
The company has been attracting a lot of attention lately following the sudden death of Sangihe Deputy Bupati Helmund Hontong, after the BBC reported that he openly wrote to the national government opposing the setting up of the mine.
Two days after that report, he collapsed and died on a Lion Air flight between Denpasar and Makassar.
Read the rest of the story by clicking on the link below:
As someone who trains the C-Suite on Media Handling Skills, what we in the PR profession sometimes shorten to Media Training, I can empathise with Naomi Osaka for not wanting to speak with journalists after her matches.
At the same time I cannot but help wonder if Osaka was professional in citing mental health as the reason for pulling out of the French Open.
However you look at it though, the power equation between the media and their interviewees is changing because of social media ,so it should prompt journalists to do some navel gazing at how they should behave in press conferences and other interview situations. Let me explain.
Firstly, Osaka deserves our sympathy because the media can be inane. How inane? see this article in Vice.
The media can ask all sorts of questions, whatever suits their fancy. This is so and has been so for a long time because of the power that the media once held over our public lives.
At their apex, the media could make you or break you because they were the only means of reaching a wider audience. They acted as gatekeepers and shaped the opinions of the public. Their influence was so pervasive that Mark Twain counselled us to “never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.”
The residual authority from its heyday makes many journalists think they have a right to question any public figure and lob hardball questions at them. Never mind the caliber of question, the interviewee should answer truthfully, honestly and openly, without losing their cool. If they lose their temper in the process, then tough luck for the interviewee and good luck for the journalist because it makes good copy or television.
Then there is Osaka. Here one needs to be careful as once mental health is invoked in this age of cancel culture, everyone gets hyper-sensitive. To be heard even questioning whether the excuse is appropriately professional is to face the possibility of being accused of insensitivity, racism, sexism and other labels.
Nonetheless what needs to be said is that she did, as a consenting adult, sign a contract with the French Open and part of the contractual requirement is that she appear at press conferences after matches. It’s not right, and may not even be informative for the viewers and fans, but let’s face it, professional tennis is not a sport but part of the entertainment industry. The industry is funded by sponsors and advertisers. To keep sponsors sponsoring and advertisers advertising they need to feed the Content Beast. When Osaka signed with the French Open she signed up for feeding the Beast, which in turn ensured a large pay checks she gets when she wins tournaments.
I am sure that someone like Osaka must have been media trained. The answers, when she was still speaking at press conferences, were good ones. Even when she was faced by stupid and inane questions. She was able to hold her own. Some of the fundamental lessons in media training is to expect the media to ask inane questions but mercifully reporters’ questions do not matter; what matters is our answer – what we say and how we say it. Another lesson is that reporters tend to ask the same questions many times, even when you’re just answered the same question.
Everyone, from this perspective, should take a leaf from Henry Kissinger’s playbook. He famously walked into a press conference saying something like “I have prepared my answers, I am now ready to take your questions.”
It is therefore a bit debatable whether Osaka’s decision to pull out of the French Open was a professional move, after all one of the definitions of a professional is someone who makes money from a certain activity or a sport. If you make money from the sport, it behoves the professional to understand how the sport is funded in the first place.
No matter which side of the debate you fall on, one issue that we should all consider seriously is the professionalism of the Press. What should professional sports journalists ask that would inform, educate and entertain (tastefully) their readers and viewers? That would be a journalist’s job.
But when they descend to inanity, then they are not doing any favours to anyone. They need to realise that in today’s world, where a player can tweet and reach more people than the entire audience of their media outlets, they no longer live in the days where they buy ink by the barrel.
Let’s be honest. How many of you had that great feeling of satisfaction when you saw that photo of a motorcyclist flipping the bird at a group of cyclists taking up more than half the road?
There must be many of you because that photo has gone viral and spawning hundreds of conversations about the cyclists.
Like you I despise those ostentatious, spandex-clad morons who lack even an iota of social awareness.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with cycling. In my younger days I was also into cycling but then it was about the ride. It was about you, the wind on your face, pushing your limits and enjoying the view.
Which is what so many of the Jakarta cyclists is not about. To begin with there is no great view. If you cycle in Jakarta there are only bad roads, a poorly maintained concrete jungle, inconsiderate motorists and polluted air.
So what it is that attracts so many of our city’s un-atheletes to take up this sport? My theory is the ability to show off to others. Cycles that cost hundreds of millions of rupiahs, cycling clothes and gear that are top of the line is part of the ensemble. Then there are the selfies and instagram posts. If you’re a real cyclist you’d probably post at most photos of you bike, its beautiful lines against a beautiful background. But not so in jakarta, its about pot-bellied Bapak wrapped in expensive spandex, atop a yet more expensive bike. Of the putatively trendy Ibu or Mbak with their over-the-top make up, fake eyelashes and enhanced boobs wrapped in expensive spandex on top still more expensive bikes.
The bikes they prefer seem to have one major criteria – that they are expensive. This is the reason why Bromptons are so popular here. Each bike is enough to feed a few families for a few weeks yet you see posts of a family of five parading their Bromptons.
The same show-off mentality extends to another category of bikes – the Moge. or Moto Gerde or Harley Davidsons.
Those bikes are supposed to signify freedom of the road. Again its man or woman communing with nature on their trusted metal steed.
But in Indonesia? It’s a sham. You have Harley riders riding around Jakarta with a police escort clearing traffic ahead of them (in a city with no views, bad roads, traffic jams and pollution). Yet this does not stop them from throttling their bikes in the midst of traffic jams so that the other car drivers and pedestrians can heart heir virile throaty roar.
What’s common about these bikers – whether on a Harley, an expensive road or mountain bike or a Brompton – is also their propensity to behave like they own the road when they get together. Reinforced by numbers they act as if everyone must give way to them and get really offensive when someone tries to ask them to have consideration for others or to follow road regulations.
Why do they behave so disgustingly? Is at the hear of it a low self-esteem so that they can only feel their worth through expensive things and subjugating others to their will, never mind if what they do is right or wrong?
Are they not aware that when they parade their expensive stuff in front of the rest of us, either in real life for on social media, that our thoughts are not, “Wow, how cool are these guys!” but “What an obnoxious asshole!”?
You have to wonder whether these cyclists, many of them well educated, affluent and well-traveled, are capable of social awareness. Awareness of how others really think, or has the cycling helmets stopped the blood flow to their brains.
There have been some confusion whether foreign residents in Indonesia are eligible to be vaccinated under the Government’s program covering certain groups including seniors (that 60 and above).
What nudged me to get vaccinated was a message from a friend who was married to a foreigner, saying that her expatriate husband got vaccinated at the Board for Development and Empowerment Human Health Resources (BPP SDM Kemkes) in Kebayoran Baru.
All that was needed was for you bring along your KTP (Identity card). No need for P+as sports, KITAP etc.
So this morning I trooped to the place early. By 8am, their opening time, there were already dozens of people there seeking vaccination.
I showed my KTP to a couple of officials at the entrance and was directed into a hall where you get registered for vaccination. There are two groups here. Those who booked for a vaccination via locket.com and those walk ins like me.
The registration process was orderly and quite efficient with a name being called every 2 minutes or so. When my turn came there was a complication because they saw that the entry under citizenship in my KTP was not Indonesian.
Confusion, an official was called. He took a photo of my KTP and said he’d check. Then nothing happened. he disappeared.
Finally, I approached one of the officers to explain my situation. A bit more confusion but when the supervisor was traced down she said it wasn’t a problem for foreigners to be vaccinated.
So I registered, that took all off 3 minutes and went to the next section where they took down your details, asked you a list of questions on whether you have any underlying conditions, and had your blood pressure taken.
You then move to a nearby table and there two nurses gave you the vaccine shot.
Then its to the “Observation Room” where, if you don’t faint or transform into an ogre, they call your name after 30 minutes or so. You get your forms from them and go into the adjacent room where you get your vaccination certificate.
There is one more step after this and its to set an appointment for your second jab. They had an officer there with an iPad to do that. All very fast. Once you agree on date and time and she keys it in, you almost instantaneously get a Whatsapp message on the details of your next appointment, complete with a barcode for the officials to scan when you come next.
Apparently that center vaccinates about 1,000 people per day. Throughout I found the process was very efficient and the officials polite and informative. The social distancing could be better but no cause for alarm.
So good job Kementerian Kesehatan and the officials who work there. Apparently they vaccinate about 1,000 people per day. And thanks Indonesia for the vaccine.
There’s a hilarious scene in one of Jackie Chan’s Rush Hour series where he follows Chris Rock into a joint run by black brothers.
Chris, being black, goes something like “Wassup Nigga” and gets a friendly reply. Then Jackie, who plays the role of a cop from Hong Kong who knows little about American culture tries it on his black hosts – with disastrous results.
That scene of how its OK for a black to call another a Nigga while someone else of a different shade couldn’t, is, for me, emblematic about how Americans and much of the west approach color: with a hypersensitivity bordering on the ridiculous.
Color to us coloreds, or if you want to be politically correct about it, the pigmentally advantaged, is a fact of life. We talk about it all the time, joke about it, acknowledge it and the fact that darker hues are generally not that desirable even among huge swarthy of the swarthy.
But to whites, or shall we call them the pigmentally disadvantaged, and those who have drunk the liberal kool aid, all talk of color is somehow abhorrent and racist. It’s as if we are all expected to tiptoe around the room not acknowledging that there is a colored elephant in the room.
It is this mentality that has conditioned the shock and awe that greeted Meghan Markle’s revelation to Oprah Winfrey that someone from the Royal Family asked if her son might pigmentally gifted.
Why is it racist to wonder what shade the baby would come out, since the mother is partially Indian, is beyond the reasoning of many mixed couples and multiracial families.
The English language, does not different between racialism and racism. Perhaps it should. The former an acknowledgement that the world is not monochromatic and needs to be perceived in all its hues and shades; the latter a description of prejudice because of someone’s skin tone.
When I was working in Malaysia in The Star many decades ago, before the country descended into its racial stereotyping and tropes to what it is today, we all used to be totally aware of our race.
We’s rib each other mercilessly and tell racial jokes to each other, have good laugh about it and ed up in Rennie’s for a beer or eight. At the end of the day we were all racialists, in the sense that we were not color blind.
This did not shield us from the realization that beyond our racial stereotypes and traits we were all humans and friends. We could live with those difference and we did.
Don’t get me wrong. I think Clubhouse, the audio chat app that is taking the world and Indonesia by storm is fantastic.
Here you have an app that makes interaction easy among people with same interests. And because its audio only it also creates a feeling of intimacy and ability to network during sessions.
Another added benefit is that since it is organized usually as an informal and chilled-out chat, there is little preparation needed.
The result: Every Indonesian what fancies themselves as connected has signed onto the service and many have already organized Tchaikovsky rooms from a few people to a few hundred. Either that or they are desperately waiting for an invite to get onto Clubhouse.
The ease and informality of these chat rooms are Chatroom’s great strengths. But they also harbor its great danger – the likelihood of uncontrolled blabbering, under the mistaken notion that its an informal chat and there are little consequences to speaking your mind.
Users of Clubhouse or any social media application should always remember that whatever you do or say there can be recorded or copied and shared to a wider audience. There is little control once words are written, images are shared or words are uttered and you can never be sure who will be listening in, first hand or second hand.
Today I saw a chat room discussion on PR matters in which a spokesperson for a company that was recently in a crisis-like situation agreeing to talk about their recent experience.
Sharing is great but when your company has just undergone a reputation all crisis and nerves are still tender, one wrong word or phrase can plunge it back into the couldron.
I am sure that there will be a crisis or two arising from Clubhouse chats.
This is not to say that people should avoid something new like Clubhouse . They should try it and use it by all means but they should never underestimate how whatever happens on social media can often be taken out of context.
No matter how new or sexy the technology, skill, deliberation and awareness are still needed.
CEOs are like the rest of us. They make mistakes.
But because of their elevated position and their egos many times its easier for them to bluster and get defensive over these mistakes. And it takes a really big man to admit theirs and ask for an apology.
After the Eiger letter berating Youtubers reviewing its products went viral, the brand came under a groundswell of criticism.
The CEO , Ronny Lukito, then issued a non-apology, failing to take responsibility for the incident, to be genuinely contrite and to explain why something like that would not happen again.
His critics weren’t assuaged and many were further inflamed. Unspun wrote about that and said that he failed to adhere to the 3Rs of crisis communications, which are Regret, Reason and Remedy and that he should seek professional help in his communications.
He must have, as today he issued a YouTube video and a statement apologizing to the affected YouTubers and taking full responsibility for the incident.
He explained that it was his idea to issue the offending letter. His PR, Marketing and legal teams tried to talk him out of it but because of arrogance he overruled them.
He has since realized his mistake and this incident has been a humbling and educational lesson for him. He has since appointed professionals to help him come up with better policies and improve their communications.
The result: if the comments on his YouTube posting are any indication, Netizens have forgiven him and appreciated his honesty and humility.
This is a good lesson for other CEOs on what to do during a crisis for their brand. I’m sure that Eiger will go from strength to strength from here if Mr Lukito maintains such an growth mindset.
I always loved their products. Now I love them more.
First Media’s blundering tweet last night is a lesson why corporations and brands should be concerned about their social capital.
At about 10pm First Media social media admin thought they’d be clever and ride on the Eiger letter fiasco that earned the ire of Indonesian netizens.
Through its twitter account @FirstMediaCares they posted a letter similar in format to one sent out by Eiger competitor Arei, which was used to shade Eiger’s obtuse letter because its invitation for consumers to review its products was very laid back and inclusive.
Obviously, the First Media admin thought they were being smart and witty. Afterall, many companies had done the same and they raised a chuckle and approving plaudits from Netizens.
The posting attracted the attention of Uber influencer Ernest Prakarsa who simply commented: “Aduh. First Media. Aduh.”
He followed this with another tweet saying “Heads gonna roll” and attached the image of the First Media letter.
What followed was a long chain of replies and comments from other Netizens and disgruntled First media customers spewing invective with the common refrain: get the bloody service right before trying something snarky
The First Media admin began their first aid by deleting the posting with the image of the letter, thinking that they could mitigate the barrage of criticism.
As always, on the internet once something is posted there is bound to be a Smart Alec out there who has downloaded or screen captured the image. You just can’t put the Jinn back into the bottle.
True enough, netizens began posting the taken down image and First Media became the laughing stock on Twitter.
This incident provides a good example why corporations without strong social capital are often attacked and criticized.
Social Capital is about a network of relationships built on shared values, trust, cooperation and reciprocity. In other words you have to take care of your stakeholders and win their trust instead of just taking their money and shafting them when it comes to after sales service.
Social Capital, if you observe from the many complaints and invective of dissatisfied and angry customers directed to First Media on social media, is something that the company obviously has a deficit of.
As such trust in the company is low and at any given opportunity the tendency of its users is to trash it. Even an innocuous attempt at humor like the letter last night backfires because the brand has such low social capital.
What can the brand do? It can start by listening to its customers and acting on their complaints for a start. The number of people who feel like they were banging their heads against a wall when trying to get First Media to restore their service is legendary.
I know that there are many disgruntled First Media customers out there. If any of you are disgruntled and think First Media is unresponsive or ineffective in servicing you, just leave a comment below for them to know how low their Social Capital is among their most important stakeholder – you the consumer.
Note: I got the information about the sacking from an online news portal in Indonesia. Have been told that the twitter account of Hendra Lim is actually a fake.
So apologies all. Disregard this post but rather than me deleting it I think it best to clarify it here and leave the rest as is so that others might be able to know that it’s fake as well. Hendra Lim apparently still works at Eiger.
Eiger has sacked the legal manager whose insulting letters to YouTube reviews of its products has put them under an uncomfortable spotlight, (see here)
The sacking is confirmed by the Leggal manager himself in his own twitter account
Hendra, however, seems unable to stop shooting himself on the foot, lamenting in a twit that politics between businesses, artistes and YouTubers and virtually the whole world is conspiring to keep The People poor and heap blame on them.
He’s young and perhaps will recover from this but any prospective employer looking at his social media feeds (and we employers do check, or have people point it out) would do a triple take before taking a chance on him in the future.
Be that as it may, he is now out of Eiger’s hair. Does his departure, however, mean that Eiger’s problems are over?
It depends. If the management there has owned the problem then they’d be ok moving forward.
As I said in the last posting, if they had learned from this incident they’d recognize it is as much management’s as the legal manager’s failure that triggered this incident.
If they realize this then they’d take communications and reputation protection seriously and hire professional communicators to to a communications job.
If they haven’t then they will remain a crisis waiting to happen. Time will tell, WFH audiences await the next installment.
Latest update on Eiger saga here
Yesterday the outdoor adventure gear brand Eiger got into a hot mess when its Leagal Eagle went a step too far and dissed off YouTubers reviewing their products. (See post here)
By late afternoon the Eiger CEO Ronny Lukito had had enough and decided to take matters into his own hands. He apologized for his Legal Eagle’s letter with his own letter.
All good apologizing but you have to wonder who is advising him on the PR front because the apology was not really an apology. When this happens it usually invites ongoing resentment and possible future attacks.
He started the latter with an apology to the community. He then admitted that the offending letter that had gone viral had indeed been sent by Eiger and they realize that this was a wrong and inappropriate action. So far so good.
Then he had to say that the original intent of the letter was to provide input to the reviewer so they can improve. Bang! Another shot in the foot. Although he tried to paper over the hole with “we realise that how we conveyed that was wrong”, he had stumbled.
This is what communicators classify as mixed messages. It’s when observations, inferences, feelings and wants are jumbled up.
Here it would have been fine if he said that whet they did was wrong, he as CEO takes responsibility for the act, he’s sorry for all the frustrations and angst caused. Instead he went on to explain their intent which still sounds patronizing, because its an outdoor gear maker telling a YouTuber how to improve shooting review videos.
Lukito also left out a vital element of apologies in crisis-like moments. He failed to say what action he’s taking to make sure that this does not happen again. Without stating this he is giving the impression that the company is not taking responsibility for the incident and not interested to learn from their mistakes. At worst, many would think that they will get back to business as usual once this kerfuffle is over.
All this leaves the company open to more criticism if the opportunity arises.
Lo and behold, the opportunity came this morning when some Netizens uncovered an incident where the legal department of Eiger asked the giant online e-commerce site to take down a reseller’s product posting of a Sritex face mask. And Tokopedia complied!
Now it looks like Eiger has not only shot itself on the foot but is also extending its foot fetish toTokopedia.
Like I said yesterday, I think Eiger makes great products. It has also been quite smart and savvy in its design and branding. It is now the victims of its own success but it is something that it can easily fix by seeking professional help.
It takes skill and experience to communicate well. To entrust it to a legal flunky is being careless with your hard worn reputation as it takes skill and experience to communicate well, with authenticity and ethically.
They should seek professional help in the short term while they look to hire an experienced communicator in-house expressly for reputation all management.
I love the Eiger outdoor brand. Their products are affordable and often of good quality. A sandal I bought has lasted me years and looks like it will continue for at least another year or two. Damn comfortable too.
But good as they are in making outdoor gear they apparently suck at customer relations. Here’s what happened:
On 28th January, competitor outdoor gear brand Arei’s issued a letter inviting Netizens to review its products.
Arei’s invite sounded very inclusive and cool. Reviewers could use any method, any camera, any theme or in any location they liked to do these reviews.
Eiger must have thought it could do the same but when netizens began reviewing their products and uploading them on YouTube – and the reviews weren’t flattering – Eiger’s Legal General Manager began to get antsy.
He started sending nasty letters to the reviewers. They began with a faux politesse of “Firstly, we thank you for uploading a review of our product on your YouTube channel…” then quickly drew out the stiletto.
Instead of explaining in a rationale manner whether the review was fair to Eiger, it instead criticized the video’s quality, specifically the angle it shoes to show their products in an unflattering manner.
The Eiger Legal Manager also was an audiophile. Complaining that the sound quality was bad to make it quite inaudible and lastly, he criticized the suitability of the location of the shoot.
With that, the manager hoped that the YouTuber would take down that posting and, a bitchy parting shot: “We hope you will become a better Youtuber in [shooting] review videos.”
That’s a shot in their own foot by any measure but that’s not all. When news of that came out on social media it, of course, went viral and Eiger became a trending topic.
Eiger’s troubles did not end there. It turns out that the manager had sent out at least identical letters to two other YouTubers.
That makes it at least three shots to two legs. How many shots the manager had fired nobody really knows.
Netizens have a habit of digging up interesting information about foot shooters and one of them dug up a poster of the manager giving a talk.
The topic: How to Implement Agile Human Capital in Transition and Shifting Era. Oh irony of ironies.
Makes you wonder the caliber of people invited to give talks these days. And what possessed Eiger to entrust its communications function to a legal person instead of a communications professional