Unearthing Solutions: 'Mine Detection' In Media Crisis Management | Vietcetera
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May 27, 2024

Unearthing Solutions: 'Mine Detection' In Media Crisis Management

This episode of BizFF features Nguyễn Thanh Sơn, a leading figure in the Vietnamese media industry, sharing insightful perspectives on public relations.
Unearthing Solutions: 'Mine Detection' In Media Crisis Management

Source: Khooa Nguyễn for Vietcetera

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Managing crisis communication is a complex task for businesses of all sizes. While a crisis may initially affect only a small aspect of a company, it has the potential to significantly damage its reputation.

In the Industry 4.0 era, can Vietnamese businesses prioritize prevention over managing the fallout from a crisis?

In episode 3 of the podcast BizFF, host Minh Beta and co-host Hương Trần welcomed Nguyễn Thanh Sơn, Chairman Of The Board at Media Ventures Vietnam (MVV Group) to the show. As a seasoned public relations expert, Thanh Son shed light on various aspects of media crisis management.

Start-up story: How ironic!

After completing his degree in Public Relations in the Soviet Union in 1988, Nguyễn Thanh Sơn founded a PR company, at a time when the concept was still emerging in Vietnam.

"When I applied for a license to establish the company, officials at the Department asked, 'Is this a notary public company?' (as notary public - ‘công chứng’ and public relations - ‘quan hệ công chúng’ sound similar). At that time, there was no industry code for public relations, so I listed all activities within the company's scope," recounted Chairman Nguyễn Thanh Sơn.

However, after six months, his company collapsed because… no one hired his services, and no one understood what he did.

Chairman Nguyễn Thanh Sơn shares amusing startup anecdotes. | Source: Khooa Nguyen for Vietcetera

It wasn't until he founded the media company T&A that the concept of "public relations" began to gain recognition in Vietnam. This marked the beginning of a successful 20-year career, during which he worked on numerous communication projects with T&A Ogilvy, trained at Google, and served as a communication strategy consultant for major brands such as Boeing, Vinamilk, Unilever, Masan Group, and Vietnam Airlines.

Preparing for the crisis trigger

A media crisis refers to an event or issue that could jeopardize the reputation of an individual or organization. Thanh Sơn emphasizes, "I often ask students which word is the most important in this definition. 'Reputation,' 'issue,' or 'company' are not. 'Capable' is the most important word.”

"The first 24 hours" is a fundamental principle in crisis management, yet effective crisis handling extends well beyond this period. It necessitates proactive preparation long before an issue escalates into a full-blown crisis.

All three participants concurred that technology is accelerating the occurrence and frequency of crises. With each social network account having 500 or more friends, information can potentially reach up to 30,000 people. Consequently, alongside approximately 18,000 domestic reporters, there are an additional 4-6 million individuals capable of disseminating information, thereby amplifying the prevalence of fake and harmful news.

"Good news spreads far, bad news spreads even farther" - Mr. Son remarked. The more people search the news, the harder the technology's algorithm pushes the news reach more people.

When we come across reports of businesses mishandling crises, we often notice keywords like "scandal," "fraud," and others being prominently mentioned. Therefore, businesses should take proactive steps to prepare for crises instead of reacting passively when they occur. This can be done through the following 3 steps:

  1. Radar scanning: Establish a system to monitor all emerging issues within and outside the company. The radar system should evaluate the severity of issues, including their impact, risks, and potential dangers, and relay this information to relevant departments.
  2. Minesweeper: Anticipate potential problems that may arise and cause trouble. For instance, consider how new state regulations might affect products or operations.
  3. Scenario planning: Develop response strategies for each anticipated scenario, creating a handbook to facilitate swift action during a crisis.
According to host Minh Beta, individuals must understand their roles and rights in sensitive times. | Source: Khooa Nguyen for Vietcetera

8 steps to weathering media storms

There's an interesting approach in China where they don't refer to "media crisis" but instead use the term "risk" - implying that within danger lies opportunity. If a brand manages the situation effectively, it can serve as a form of free marketing, garnering more sympathy from customers.

Continuing from the previous discussion, Thanh Sơn shares 8 golden steps to navigate crises smoothly:

  1. Verify all information before issuing an official statement.
  2. Identify affected target groups.
  3. Assess the emotional state of those involved in the crisis.
  4. Craft a unified message and tailor it for different target groups (internal, customers, press, etc.).
  5. Determine the course of action: proactive communication, responsive engagement, or maintaining silence.
  6. Develop communication strategies tailored to each audience.
  7. Designate a spokesperson to represent the business.
  8. Anticipate potential future scenarios.

Additionally, companies should avoid being overly aggressive, fearful, or neglectful when developing a communication strategy to address public concerns.

What are your predictions for the future of the media industry?

Thanh Sơn: "The future of the media industry holds immense potential for development, as we possess ample resources to nurture talent. For instance, Vietnam currently lacks companies specializing in government relations or sports marketing.

Aspiring individuals in the media industry of the future need not pursue extravagant endeavors; rather, they should focus on diving deeply into niche markets to make an impact.

Additionally, when considering technological influences, there are two opposing viewpoints. While it's challenging for any technology to alter social interactions significantly, it also offers substantial benefits to the digital economy, society, and individuals."

According to Thanh Sơn, there is still plenty of untapped potential in the future of the media industry in Vietnam. | Source: Khooa Nguyen for Vietcetera

Minh Beta: "As the frequency of information consumption increases, the potential for crises will inevitably rise as well. However, this also presents an opportunity for the public relations market and the media industry as a whole to gain valuable experience and expertise."

Translated by Thúy An

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