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.

Explaining My Communications Job To 14-Year-Olds

When I volunteered for The Human Library project at Day X 2019, I found myself explaining what I did as my job to teenagers again and again, with each batch of kids that “borrowed” me. It was particularly challenging trying to explain what I did in communications without leaning on familiar industry jargon and contextualizing things for students who have yet to experience the working world.

I eventually settled on this version, which I thought I’d record here.

Every company has a reputation, just like you. If I ask your friend to describe you, they’ll often talk about how you make them feel, rather than just describe your physical features.

For example, they will more often say, “Leigh is a kind person,” rather than “Leigh is male, over 170cm tall, and doesn’t wear glasses.”

What someone thinks of you and how you make them feel is part your reputation. You can choose either to build it, change it, or defend your it.

If you want to be known as a kind person, you need to be kind and, hopefully, you’ll also have friends who can vouch for your kindness. If someone criticises you as being unkind, you would hopefully want to correct them and have friends who will defend your reputation as a kind person.

Now, it is important that your friends or other people say good things about you and defend your reputation voluntarily, without payment or inducement. This means you have earned their trust well enough for them to endorse you.

Imagine if it was discovered that you paid your friends to say nice things about you or defend your reputation. They would be perceived as having less credibility – what they say about you may be less believable because they were paid to do so.

So, you have to be kind, and be known as a kind person to as many of the right people as possible. It may not be possible to get the whole world to think positively about you, but you certainly want the people that matter to you to care: your friends, your teachers, and potential employers. So, you focus on ensuring these people have a good perception of you.

Similarly, my job is to build and defend my company’s reputation (what people think about my company and how it makes them feel) by earning the trust of friends that matter to my company (like media journalists, government authorities, or respected experts), who will then endorse my company to as many people as possible.

Let me know what you think?

Volunteering at Day X 2019

As I write this, I just got back from a full day volunteering at Day X, as a member of The Human Library.

Organized by The Astronauts’ Collective, the Lifelong Learning Institute of Singapore, and SkillsFuture Singapore, “Day X,” or a day of exploration, is envisioned to be a fun and accessible opportunity for youths to explore the world of work. The idea of a “day” is to encourage youths (and other related stakeholders) to “take a day” off from everyday preoccupations, to explore and better understand what they may find interesting, or even meaningful, to undertake as a possible career.

As part of Day X, the Human Library session provides a cosy and unintimidating setting for participants to choose to “read” from a wide collection of more than 50 human books at any one sitting. Each human book is a volunteer professional from a particular field, whom the participants could interact with to find out more about that particular profession.

I really enjoyed speaking to the group of mostly secondary and Junior College students about my job. It was particularly interesting trying to explain my job while avoiding the usual industry jargon and contextualizing things for students who have yet to experience the working world. An excellent exercise, IMHO.

I especially appreciated the thoughtful questions about my job, although it was fascinating to see the mix of curiosity and trepidation. More than a few students felt they needed a “fixed” answer to navigate their careers. It was as if they were looking for that guaranteed path; three steps to getting the right courses, to get the right education, and end up with the right job. There were such specific questions, for example: “Which specific courses should I take to get a job like yours?” or “Should I go through Junior College or Polytechnic if I want this job?”

I also gained a newfound appreciation for teachers and lecturers; it’s quite the challenge saying the same thing over and over again, while maintaining enthusiasm and making sure you’re getting through to the students! Teens can be quite challenging to reach.

My favourite anecdote of the day came from when I shared what it meant to build and defend a company’s reputation using various communications channels, to which this one student remarked,

“So, it’s like propaganda?”

Yes, dearie – exactly like that. 

Many thanks to my friend, Grace Yeoh, for inviting me to this.

Redemption Stories And Social Wildfires – Fireside Chat With IAB Asia

In the hot seat at IAB. Photo credit: IAB

On Wednesday earlier this week, I was invited to get into the hot seat for a fireside chat with Tim Sharp, APD’s Regional Head of Social Media at an Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) event to discuss Stamping Out Social Wildfires. The conversation was covered by IAB on their website here; and appended below.


Continue reading “Redemption Stories And Social Wildfires – Fireside Chat With IAB Asia”

Speaking at IACT on The Future Of Marketing & Communications

Speaking at IACT 20151202
The great bunch of students I had the pleasure of hanging out with. 2 Dec 2015.

I was invited to give this presentation to a student class at IACT College, which was founded by the advertising industry to become Malaysia’s premier college specialising in creative communication.

I enjoyed my time with the students as well as the insightful questions they asked.

I spoke on “The Future of Marketing & Communications”, exploring the disruptions impacting marketing and communications today as well as what capabilities practitioners need to develop for the future. In a world where the scarcest resources are attention and engagement, marketers and communicators need to:

  1. Have a conversation – Marketing and communications today is essentially a dialogue with the marketplace. We need to design organisations and capabilities that set us on a virtuous circle where we sense/listen, integrate, and communicate again and again to remain relevant and engaged with our audiences.
  2. Embrace and co-create with your community – From the conversations we have with the marketplace, we are able to take in input and perspectives that result in truly engaging initiatives that already have buy-in from our audiences and customers.
  3. Tell authentic stories – In a world saturated with banal noise, authentic storytelling helps cut through the clutter; engaging both the heart and the mind.
  4. Integrate across media – Marketing and communication channels can no longer operate in silos. The sum of parts are often stronger than the individual parts.
  5. Build your own media platforms – As the media and channel landscape becomes even more fragmented, a brand’s own media platforms often become an authoritative source of information.

My slides are available here:

I also shared some case study/examples from both Microsoft and Shell. The videos I refer to in my slides are as follows:

Shell – Destination Home

  • Link to video on Youku
  • More context to this campaign available here and here

Shell #MakeTheFuture – Morro de Mineira Project

Microsoft – Decode Jay-z with Bing