Building Reputation: Trust Deficit in the World of Fake News

With fellow panelists and moderator. Photo credit: PRCA Malaysia

Recently, I was invited to be a panelist to discuss Building Reputation: Trust Deficit in the World of Fake News.

Here are the notes I prepared for myself (with some elaboration, specifically for this blog):

Point 1: The marketplace of reputation is built on the currency of trust.

Reputation provides the shorthand of trust – and becomes the lens by which we view the brand/company. 

However, communication doesn’t occur in a vacuum – this is where the of the media becomes vital. However, there is much to be discussed regarding the role of media as The Fourth Estate.  Which leads to:

Point 2: Fake news is possible because it is possible to distrust the media.

So, in that vacuum, bad actors fill the void with misinformation.

Media plays a key role and it’s why I have a keen interest in the survivability of the media industry. My concern is that with increasing overheads and budgetary pressures, some are veering very close to pay to play models.

Point 3: So what are we doing about this?

  1. Building & Safeguarding our reputation and building trust has become far more important amidst the noise and fake news.
  2. We are also exploring models of becoming our own media channels – owned channels (I.e. newsrooms).

More pics here.

Stay classy – taking the higher road in brand & reputation building


When news reports of Samsung Note 7 devices exploding started landing, some competitor brands had a field day trying to troll Samsung.

This is, of course, nothing new in the highly competitive mobile devices industry. In fact, Samsung has been guilty of doing the same to its idol competitor.

Now, what did Apple do or say to Samsung?


That’s right – zip, zilch, zero… nada.

Apple said nothing; instead, it maintained the high road and didn’t kick its competitor while they were down (or attempt to take revenge for the many trolling incidences in the past). After all, the issue was a serious one – explosions are no small things and any injury to a consumer is one too many. What if a device had exploded in the hands of a child?

Then, I read today that an Apple iPhone 7 has “exploded”.

While investigations into the incident are ongoing, the news cycle has, well, exploded. Reading through the coverage, however, there isn’t much cynicism directed towards Apple (although, there’s plenty to go around in mobile devices sector especially in regards to one brand copying another).

Can you imagine how the news cycle and public backlash might be like if Apple had trolled Samsung during the exploding Note 7 fiasco, though?

Remember: Stay classy.

You never know when karma might come back to bite you in the ass.

Joining Shell: Head of Media Relations & Issues Management



One of my earliest memories about Shell is sitting in the back seat of my parent’s car, as we pull in to the petrol station for a fill up. It’s been many, many years since then, and I’ve now become a Shell customer, just like my parents before me.

So, when I got a call from the recruiter to consider an opportunity in the energy industry, I couldn’t have been more delighted to discover that it was with Shell!

Over the course of my interviews, I got truly excited getting to know some of the amazing work the folks at Shell are doing – beyond just fuel, lubricants, and petrol stations. There’s a world of other things like the popular Shell Eco Marathon to some truly innovative solutions in energy solutions and petroleum derivatives!

Which brings me to today.

I’ve just started my stint today as Shell Malaysia‘s Head of Media Relations and Issues Management; where I will be primarily accountable for: being a trusted adviser to Executive Chairman and senior managers on key Group issues; identify emerging issues and ensuring that reputation issues are effectively managed for the country; as well as engaging the to drive reputational value.

I’m looking forward to this new role and the adventures that await!

Stay in touch: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn.

The Best And Worst Things To Do In A Crisis

In an article over at PR Daily, Danya Proud, Media Relations Director for McDonalds, USA shares a few helpful pointers on the best and worst things to do in a crisis. Very helpful tips when you want to ensure that your brand withstands the test (for it is always a matter of “when” you’d face a crisis, not “if”).


  • Never inflate the situation before you’ve figured it out, Proud says. Sending an email to your entire company when in crisis mode is unnecessary. Identify the key players and departments, and focus on communicating with them.
  • Never be a slacker. Social media moves quickly. “Gone are the days that you can procrastinate about what you’re saying,” Proud says. “You have a responsibility to get back to people.” If you aren’t informed enough to address the problem at hand, a simple tweet or post letting people know you’re looking into the issue will show that you’re listening.
  • Never miss an opportunity. A crisis can be an opportunity to set the record straight. “I seize every opportunity to educate,” Proud says.
  • Never fail to recognize C.A.V.E. people. Some people are “trolling” the Internet looking to stir up trouble. You need to know when to respond and when to recognize a “C.A.V.E.” person—that is, a Citizen Against Virtually Everything, as McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner calls them. “Understand and accept that you won’t get 100 percent” of people loving your brand, Proud advises.


  • Define the crisis. Before you go into panic mode, you need to understand what the crisis is, what it means to your company, and who needs to be involved.
  • Tailor the communication. The CEO isn’t always the most relatable person. Make sure the person you choose to represent the crisis at hand resonates with the audience.
  • Avoid jargon. “People forget conversational language and resort back to comfortable corporate speak,” Proud notes.
  • Give them what they want. Proud knows that “it’s not about what you want to say, it’s about what your audience wants to hear.” McDonald’s embarks on listening tours and monitors social media to understand what people want from the company.
  • Acknowledge that you’re not perfect. If you’ve made a mistake, own up to it. Let people know you’re listening to them.

Full article here.

How To Avoid a Social Media Disaster (via Mashable)

I was writing about my terrible ordeal with the telemarketer for the iStrategy2010 conference (on Social Media, no less) [Part 1, Part 2, Part 3] when I stumbled upon this helpful article via Mashable: How to respond when Social Media attacks your brand?. Of course, prevention is much better than cure… so here’s another helpful article via Mashable: How to avoid a social media disaster. (I really love Mashable!)

For the PR and Communications professional, the impact of a crisis has been exponentially exacerbated by the power of social media. As I’ve said before, this is due to the powerful fact that social media is essentially a network, with implicit assumptions of trust and credibility (by network members), and a built-in capacity for rapid dissemination of news.

Now, anyone and everyone can now vent their dissatisfaction about your brand and, I assure you, they will have their own like-minded audiences (friends, relatives, total strangers) who are similarly equipped and empowered. If unmanaged, you will have an echo-chamber of negativity that will get out of hand.

Even so, any practitioner will understand that one can never fully “control” what customers and audiences say about one’s brand – especially on social media platforms. Most would also agree that it’s not something you want to do, since social media is essentially a social medium – i.e. you don’t own it, the community does. It’s exactly because of this freedom to comment, to voice opinions and to generally share information that results in the kind of customers you want – those who are engaged with your brand! These customers end up being that desired loyal fan base that spreads the word about your brand to their friends and family.

Still, there are a few steps that you can take to prevent or circumvent a negative PR crisis about your brand on social media networks online. Here’s what the Mashable article recommends:

Continue reading “How To Avoid a Social Media Disaster (via Mashable)”