Public Relations lessons from Bell Pottinger collapse – Maverick

This is a blog post that I wrote in the Maverick website

PR lessons from Bell Pottinger collapse

As a young man cutting my teeth in journalism during the Thatcher years, I was in awe of the people behind the company, Bell Pottinger, that helped ensure her electoral victories.

I remember they were touted as one of the first public relations firms to use behavioral psychology to good effect.

Now, after being in Public Relations for about 18 years and seeing the Bell Pottinger name reappear into prominence,and with it the man who founded the firm, I must say that it is a letdown.

The man at the helm of that once powerful public relations firm turns out to be a doddering shadow of his former image in the interview below:

He was combative and defensive, he was in denial and he could not even switch off his mobile for an interview- twice.What lessons can we PR people learn from this?

Source: Public Relations lessons from Bell Pottinger collapse – Maverick

Journey into Taiji

When I was younger I used to think it hyperbole when they said that you’d need seven years to master Taiji (or T’ai Chi if you used the old Wade-Giles spelling).

Now, after having taken up Taiji for coming close to three years, I am inclined that you’d take considerably take more time – like a lifetime – if you want to master the art.

But first, what is Taiji? Many people have the impression that Taiji is the slow-motion half dance that old people in pajamas do at public parks. Part of Taiji is that – an exercise you do for health benefits – but it is much more.

Taiji was originally conceived as a fighting art. Legends say that the Taoist monk Zhang Sanfeng came up with Taiji in the 12th century. The next historical record seems to trace Taiji as an art practiced by the Chen Family in Henan province since the 17th Century.

Whatever the truth of it is, the art was a closely held family secret until Yang Luchan took the art and taught it to outsiders in Beijing. From there taiji spread and many different styles developed from there, among them the Yang, Wu, Chen and Sun styles.

My journey into Taiji started because I wanted to rekindle my love for martial arts (practiced Karate in school and university) but I wanted to do something that didn’t only rely on youth and strength to prevail.

As anyone’s won’t to do these days you go to the internet to see what you can learn. I alighted on Yang Chwen Ming because he was most searchable on Google and Youtube. I then bought his training DVD and proceeded to learn Yang Style Taiji.

His style is fluid but not having anyone to teach you in person was difficult for anyone to learn. And after trying to look for a Taiji school in South Jakarta I managed to hook up with a group of people that practiced the cumbersomely named Chen Style Practical Method of Taiji.

Since then it has been a journey of satisfaction, frustration, many sprains and falls as well as some rewarding moments. In other words I’m hooked.

What I find so fascinating about Taiji is how counter-intuitive it is to you we react to physical challenges. It is purely an understanding of physics, body bio-mechanics – and the difficult part – training your body to do what your mind theoretically knows.

Although we have someone here who has been well-trained, the Grandmaster of the style, Master Chen Zhonghua makes a visit to Indonesia each year to conduct a workshop and teach the students here:

Here’s a workshop in Jakarta from 2015:

 

As you can see the Taiji being practiced here is anything but soft and slow. It involves students understanding the principles of Taiji and then putting them into practice. There is a lot of push hands (Taiji sparring) in this style because Master Chen believes that you can only learn to apply what you have learned if the opponent’s moves are unpredictable.

Master Chen will be conducting another workshop Jakarta, actually in Tangerang, on December 2 and 3. It would be a treat to watch the man in action and to learn Taiji principles and their application from the man. Beginners and experienced martial artists  will be able to learn something from these workshops that are conducted in English and Mandarin and translated into Indonesian.

 

 

 

.

 

 

 

 

One by one, the media are falling – Maverick

Here’s a post I wrote on my company blog:

If there’s any doubt that disruption is at hand in the communications industry the sheer number of closures of Indonesian newspapers and magazines — at least 33 — since December last year is a firm indication.

This raises interesting questions on how corporations can still reach their customers and other audiences that matter now that the news outlets they’ve relied on as a medium of communicating with their consumers is falling faster than a line of dominoes.

Thanks to some research from my colleague Wicaksono, aka Ndoro Kakung, we found that December 2016 was a bad month for the Kompas Gramedia Group as it closed four tabloids – Sinyal, Chip, Chip Foto & Video and Motor – and four magazines – Kawanku, What Hi Fi, Auto Expert, Car and Tuning Guide.

The industry quietened down but from May onwards more closures followed. First was lifestyle and fashion magazine Nylon, followed by another Kompas Gramedia Group casualty, the music magazine Hai.

July was a bad month as it was convulsed with 11 closures. The largest number of casualties came from the giant MNC group as it closed down its regional daily editions of Koran Sindo in north and south Sumatera; central, east and west Java as well as north Sulawesi.

The group, belonging to tycoon and politician Harry Tanoesoedibjo also closed down women’s tabloid Genie and parenting tabloid Mom and Kiddie.

Read more:Here

My Republic broadband sucks for me. What’s your experience like?

I few months ago we switched from Play Media as a broadband provider because their service sucked – the speeds got slower and there was no good follow-up customer service.

We switched to My Republic because a friend had said that their speeds were rather good. What we found was worse. Not only did the speeds not live up to that advertised. To make things worse not only were the speeds slow

The My Republic/Sinar Was promise: 300Mbps. Weeeeee!

The reality: Not even 2% of the promise where downloads are concerned. Let’s not even talk about the uploads.

the entire connection continuously broke down and the internet connection was sporadic.

We complained on 27th May and was sent he standard line that they’d check the system and get back to us within 1X24 house, and if there was anything wrong, they’d send their technicians to sole the problem in 3X24 hours. Then silence in the 1X24 hours and 3X24 hours period and beyond.

We complained to My Republic again on June 1 and the same thing happened.

So we called again today and we get the same stock answers. This time I put my foot down and asked to speak to the supervisor. After some waiting I spoke to Henny Sahaja (because she won’t give me her full name). She said they needed to forward the complaint to the technical side, who would then inform me in 1X24 hours…

What is it with huge conglomerates like Sinar Mas who, just because they have the money and the know-who, think they can branch into a profitable service industry and make a success of it? They can’t get the infrastructure right, they can’t get the simple customer service right…and the only thing keeping them in business is that they have been around for a long time, have the right connections and the market is so protected against the entry of kick-ass multinational broadband providers.

What I can’t get is whether these people running such sham services have no sense of pride or shame, that they could do such a bad job at it.is there any use bringing into the attention of My Republic outside Indonesia? They didn’t respond to tweets in the past.

So, anyone out there know a reliable, good broadband providers?

 

 

 

 

 

Some questions about #SayaPancasila

The hallmark of a good campaign is that it spurs public discourse on a particular subject. In this sense, the #SayaPancasila campaign can be said to be successful, if the preponderance of the hashtag and profile pictures bering the message on social media are concerned.

Effective public discourse, however, exists when there are differences of opinion and when the participants abide by rules of rhetorical fair play. So here goes Unspun‘s contribution to the public discourse on the#SayaPancasila campaign.

Three questions spring to mind from all the #SayaIndonesia and #SayaPancasila profile photos being used on Facebook Instagram and other social media channels:

  1. Are atheists allowed to proclaim #SayaPancasila? Pancasila requires the belief God, in whatever form she exists. Arising from this should there be a discussion on which is more appropriate for Indonesia today – a concept from 1945 repurposed to knit together Indonesia in 2017; or would Embracing Diversity be a more appropriate idea to campaign on?
  2. When people these days declare #SayaPancasila can it be taken as their full subscription to the five principles formulated by Sukarno in 1945 as an instrument to rally people round Indonesian Nationalism? Or is it more a talisman to signal their rejection of the more extreme and intolerant elements of Indonesia today, i.e. Rizieq and the FPI as well as other assorted hardliners? There is a difference here: one is an embrace of something, another is a rejection of another thing.
  3. Are all these declarations of #SayaPancasila on the internet missing the target? One of the things the internet is notorious for is to create bubbles where like-minded people reinforce their own ideas and convictions. How many of these #SayaPancila proclamations are actually seen by the real targets? These are the 50+ percent who voted for Anies, the thousands of easter-clad protesters who came out on 212 and other demonstrations, that part of Indonesia who get their information more from mosques and grassroots institutions than the social media. There is also the question of whether seeing such #SayaPancasila declarations would persuade them to change their minds or reinforce their believes so that they dig down even deeper in the embrace of hardline attitudes and beliefs.

Don’t get me wrong. I think that any effort to claw Indonesia back from the clutches of the hardliners is something good for this country and society. But will it be effective? Or wilt be a distraction when resources could have been channeled elsewhere for greater effect?

So where do people stand on these three questions?

 

 

 

Making war with unreason

This is something I wrote for the Maverick blog. I hope PR professionals will find it useful.

How to Battle the Forces of Unreason

How many of you PR consultants, facing a client in a crisis-like situation, are asked to highlight he good deeds they have done, their CSR commitments, the amount of taxes they’ve paid and the rightness of their cause?

These requests come as if some good news about the company can mitigate or balance out the negative stories that are being written about the client.

How many you have succumbed to such requests and have therefore done an injustice to the client?

Read more here

 

 

When is sorry not enough? 

Malaysia’s The Star had controversial front page today. 

Like in years past the tabloid-sized paper carried a photo of Malaysian Muslims in their first terawih prayers to start off the month of Ramadan. 

This year, however,  it also carried a banner headline above the photo that read: Malaysian Terrorist Leader.  

Some readers  took offence, reading into this one of many repeated attempts by the Chinese-owned The Star (it’s owned by the Malaysian Chinese Association, one of the parties making up the ruling coalition)  to cast insinuations on the Malays/Muslims. 

The Star responded with an online apology this evening:

The apology,  however, fell short for some of its readers who felt that it was an apology without really apologizing.

They also felt that The Star has once too many times tried to insult Malays or Muslims and nothing short of a sacking of it’s chief editor or closure of the paper is enough (interesting comments in a Facebook posting by Rocky Bru)

The Star insiders, however,  feel that they have not done anything wrong,  certainly not more wrong than the government-controlled papers that also ran the terrorist story on Page One together with the obligatory  photo of the terawih prayers. 

So is this a case of racial/religious hypersensitivity,  a paper going too far with it’s headlines or a half-hearted apology?  And how will this issue play out over the next couple of days?