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How to Deal With Public Relations Disaster?

Due to the increasing incidents of “Public Relations (pronounce ‘Gong Guan’ in Chinese) Disaster” by many firms in 2015, the Hong Kong netizens creatively inverse the term and named it “Guan Gong (refer to Guan Yu from the Three Kingdoms) Disaster” in Chinese. They laughed at it in a joke, 「Please give Guan Gong a break!」 In fact, most of the public relations crisis occurred suddenly and unpredictably. We can’t wait until it’s too late to plan on the next step. Instead, it’s better to prepare for the unforeseen way in advance.

These crises can usually divide into three initial phases. The first stage is the latent stage which only a few people know about it. The second stage is the derivative stage and more people know about it. The third stage is the flooding stage. The issue is wide spreading all over the Internet shortly. We must take appropriate action immediately within this period. If we waited too long, it would be extremely difficult to turn the tide.

A widespread negative example in the recent years should be the video incident from the Manulife HK. The Manulife staff outsourced three video clips called “Going to the space” for their company banquet dinner with only HKD$500-$700 budget. With the issue spread quickly and widely, it became the derivative work ideas for other big firms.

In fact, the Instant Media Monitoring played a very important role during this critical period. It can obtain the negative news and information that may hurt the company reputation as soon as possible before “Guan Gong” (Public Relations Disaster) appeared. For instance, we can search some related keywords online which can help us identify the potential threats and facilitate deployment. There are many high-quality social media monitoring services in the market, such as Wisers, which provides this kind of positive and negative sentiment analysis.

Manulife should acquire related information through these social monitoring services, analyze the data in their own social media platform to investigate the potential factors for this public relations crisis, then get in touch and talk to the people involved to get a deeper understanding. If above appropriate actions were taken by Manulife before the issue escalated, the crisis would not even hit the flooding stage.

However, Manulife didn』t realize the serious consequences of the issue and did not proceed with early monitoring, analysis and action. Therefore, the issue went beyond their control and damage their brand image in certain extent. This issue proved that the instant media monitoring is extremely important in preventive measures.

In fact, the path to successfully resolving the public relations crisis is to respond as fast as possible, everything else can be a minor factor. Fast, high transparency, honesty and constructive are the most important public relations skills we need to learn when dealing with crisis.

 

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