Having been in the communications industry for more than 40 years, first within corporations, then in consultancy, there were many lessons gleaned along the way. These have helped me to deal with various stakeholders better and to handle PR events and activities more effectively. I hope you will find them useful.
Dealing with the media
At most media conferences there will always be one or more junior journalists in attendance. Make it a point to know them, and put them at ease by engaging them. Be respectful even though they have limited knowledge and experience. Remember that today’s rookie reporter could be tomorrow’s editor.
As it turned out, when I was in the corporate world, there was one such reporter who attended a media conference I organized. He would later rise to be the Editor of the local business daily and we were able to enjoy a wonderful rapport over the years.
Dealing with suppliers
Many suppliers and vendors have business operations that are not large. They provide useful support services, such as photography and videography, for our requirements. Their margins are not high and they often face cash flow problems. Just as you do not want your clients to withhold or delay payments for your invoices, you should pay promptly to your suppliers and vendors. This gesture will result in you getting priority when they have competing demands, and good service too.
Dealing with crises
I learned one of the best tips on handling crises – preparing for the worst – from the chairman of our national airline. One day, I received a report that a passenger on board an international flight en route to Singapore could have had in his possession a firearm. My response to the Chairman was to have the security personnel ready on the ground to screen every passenger once the aircraft landed and subsequently conduct a sweep of the aircraft. He replied, “Have you thought of the worst?” That took me by surprise and set me thinking – What if the gunman opened fire on board? What would the consequences have been? These questions raced through my head.
Since then, for the numerous crises we have handled, I learned to think of the worst-case scenario should the crisis escalate or the incident spiral out of control. You will start to think of the measures you have to put in place or take. If the escalation does not come to pass, all is well and good. However, should it happen, at least you be able to react quickly, saving time which would otherwise be wasted scrambling.
Dealing with publicity – the art of bundling
In marketing, product bundling is a common sales strategy. Several products are combined as one and sold at a lower price than if sold separately. Similarly, this bundling process can be applied for your clients when pitching to the media for publicity.
A business publication was convinced to do a feature article on managing and retaining talent. We had received consent to feature two of our clients for this article. One was a global head hunting firm which commented on recruitment trends. The other, a well-known hotel chain, which won many human resources awards. They shared how they engaged and retained their employees. Finally, a friend who headed the Human Resources Institute in Singapore provided his perspective of the human resource market in Singapore. This was good publicity for the interviewees and an insightful feature for the publication.
The author, Mr Yap Boh Tiong is the Chairman of the Mileage Communications Group, a communications veteran with 45 years of experience in journalism, advertising, public relations, crisis management and media training.