This is a good parable of how institutions ignore blogs at their own peril.
The story goes like this: Back in January the Malaysian Tourist Board invited 109 journalists from Indonesia, including 17 Indonesian TV journalists to cover the Floral Fest as part of its Visit Malaysia Program. It was a great opportunity to showcase the nation’s attractions, but some lowly official stuffed up and the result was a harrowing experience for the journalists. Unhappy with the treatment, one of the journalists, Nila Tanzil, bloggd about her experiences both in her personal blog and her corporate blog.
The reaction of the Malaysian Tourism Board? Instead of being thankful about the feedback Board officials instead got angry. It is unclear whether MTB HQ in KL knew about it but the local MTB officials raised a hue and cry with the TV station Nila worked with. The result is that she is no longer being invited to host the travel show Melancong Yuk.
Unspun blogged about the MTB’s actions and outlined how it may become a yet bigger issue for the Malaysian Tourism Board if it continues to live in denial and ignored instead of addressing the issue. Unspun had thought that the issue might be picked up by Malaysian bloggers and from there spill over onto the Malaysian mainstream media.
But Unspun was wrong: This issue was instead picked up by a soon-to-be blogger, Wong Chun Wai, who writes the Comment column for The Star, Malaysia’s largest circulating newspaper (Thanks SK Thew for the alert – Unspun believes he’ll be blogging about this development too as he posted about this issue early on).
Wong said that the last thing Malaysia needs is poor execution from low-level officials and that Nila’s postings “must be taken seriously because her complaints have made its rounds among Jakarta’s press fraternity and bloggers who have become a new but important and powerful alternative media source.
“Someone in the ministry has to explain to Nila and certainly to Malaysians who’ve read her complaints,” he said.
And someone should. But the main lesson here is that companies and institutions would do well to monitor blogs or be blindsided from now on. When you have someone like Wong Chun Wai, who’s the second most powerful man in the editorial floor of the nation’s largest circulating newspaper planning to become a blogger, and therefore being plugged into what the Blogosphere is saying, what choice is there? (see Screenshots on power of blogs)