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After living with COVID-19 for over a year, Southeast Asian countries continue to deal with resurges in cases and periodical lockdowns, even as recovery plans are underway. These continual scenarios have led to new behaviours and altered mindsets.


As consumers adapt to a new way of life, brands have similarly learned to shift gears and adapt to a disrupted market. But as countries hop on the road to recovery, does this signal a return to normal?


Not quite. There is no “going back to how things were” – the new normal is here and will likely remain that way for a while. That said, brands today have a unique opportunity to revisit their purpose and meaning to consumers for the long term.


Much like the vaccine, your brand could use a dose of public relations to strengthen its immunity in the new normal.


Here’s how a solid PR strategy can help you remain relevant by connecting with your community, whose perspectives have changed after the lockdown.



They can boost your “line of defence”

Brands owe it to consumers to provide quality products and services, and a genuine and empathetic customer experience. Hence, the ability to consistently provide good service to the public – and solidifying your business reputation – serves as your brand’s first line of defence, protecting your business when threats are close by. Even when we manage to move past COVID-19, there’s no telling when a crisis will strike next: there’s no other time than now to engage your consumers and strengthen your relationships. Focus on managing and ensuring consistent customer experiences each time they interact with your business. While ensuring good products is a given, a proactive PR strategy is essential in creating genuine connections and fostering a community. In doing so, you create a loyal customer base that can readily act as your brand spokespersons, no matter the occasion.



They can help strengthen brand trust that “kills viruses”

A PR strategy can help strengthen brand trust in the long term and further fortify your brand’s immunity. Social listening tools, monitoring conversations around your brand, and reaching out to targeted audiences can help shape richer and more precise narratives that resonate with your market. When your stories are authentic, relevant and genuinely provide value for people, it can help your target audience view you not only as a product or service provider but a brand that understands them and one they can trust. People understand your brand values and what you stand for.


Being aware of public sentiment can also help you reimagine your core offerings and amplify the right services depending on your market needs. Through PR, you can get to know what consumers value now and study how your brand can provide those needs.



Producing immunity for the future

The COVID-19 vaccine was created to introduce immunity against the novel disease. Similarly, your brand needs to adapt acquired immunity for the future ahead. Strengthening consumer experience and product offerings can provide a layer of protection – but to truly safeguard your brand, you need to prepare for any emerging risks. Consistent and proactive PR planning ensures that you’re not just reacting to current events; you’re preventing future brand missteps. These include possible tone-deaf messaging, especially during sensitive times, as well as conducting due diligence on influencers, thought leaders, and media partners to ensure brand safety. The crisis will change customers’ behaviours and needs, and it’s important for brands to look out for changes in consumer desires, shifts in behaviours and preferences, and new missteps or brand risks that may not have been present before.


The new normal offers brands an opportune moment to refresh their brand image – planning their communication strategy now and the future ahead. Beyond selling, your consumers must understand that you recognise the realities that people face. Connect with your communities on causes that matter to them, and uplift their spirits or stand in solidarity with them.


In times of adversity, people will look back on their memory of a community coming together to withstand this period. A well-planned PR strategy ensures that brands become part of that conversation. As we venture into the new normal, the right PR team can help you navigate this uncharted territory through strategic partnerships, social listening, and creating authentic connections with the community.


Blue Totem Communications’ team of specialists proudly combines experience and know-how to help you plan ahead and create rich and lasting relationships with your consumers. Our agency has a wide network of high-value partners across Singapore, Malaysia and the SEA region, helping brands foster trust and authenticity with their audiences. Get in touch with us at bluetotem.co/contact-us today.




You may have gotten a call or an email from a journalist who wants to interview you for a story. A media interview signals that there’s something interesting about your brand that caught the attention of the journalist, and it’s a great way to establish your company’s presence and credibility. But before you engage, it’s important to be aware of what to do – as well as what to avoid – during an interview.

Without the right preparation, a media interview can do your brand more harm than good. The last thing you want to happen is to get caught off guard during the actual interview, which can affect you or your company’s image and messaging.


Ensure positive media coverage by taking note of these do’s and don’ts when preparing for an interview.

Do:


Try to know the nature of the interview

Figure out what the journalist or interviewer has planned. Will it be pre-recorded or broadcast live? What angle is the reporter trying to work on? Will the segment feature competitors? Knowing the answers to these questions helps you better prepare for the big day.


Prepare for it in advance

It’s important to prepare for any media interview ahead of time – even if you think you’re comfortable with the material. This involves asking for the questions beforehand so you can go over your talking points, as well as consulting with your team on confidential information.


Give quotable quotes

These are often short and snappy answers. Think of your top three essential talking points, then distill them into concise and memorable “sound bites” – these assure that your important messages make it on air, even if your interview ends up being cut to a short clip.


Another way to approach this is through providing proof points, case studies and even anecdotes, which are effective for printed interviews. Providing relatable and engaging backstories add colour and interest to your narrative, which can help shape the piece in a more positive light. Anecdotes also offer a richer, “behind-the-scenes” glimpse and humanises the brand or yourself as its figure – making yourself more relatable to your audience.


Be gracious and genuine

While we advise you to prepare for the interview in advance, also be wary of giving over-rehearsed responses. Aim to be as authentic as possible, keep your composure even with challenging questions, and always remain polite.


Anticipate unexpected questions

When the conversation takes a candid course, anticipate some impromptu questions – from innocent follow-ups to more sensitive queries. Stay calm when these come up, pause before answering, and think carefully about what to say next. As much as possible, redirect your answer to your original talking points. Another technique to employ for tough questions is using bridging statements – statements that allow you to acknowledge the interviewer’s question, then let you transition to your key message.


Some bridging statements to utilise in your responses include: “I think the more important issue is”, “What matters most now”, “It all boils down to this”. These let you smoothly shift to your key points.


Don’t:


Feel pressured by the interviewer’s questions

If the conversation takes an uncomfortable turn, don’t feel the need to respond to speculative or leading questions. A simple, honest response of “I don’t know” is acceptable, especially for questions you may not entirely know the answer to. You can also volunteer to get back to the interviewer with more information once it becomes available.


Lose your cool

Interviews can sometimes turn into challenging conversations. Journalists may ask about pressing or sensitive issues that surround your industry. Never argue with the interviewer nor lose your composure. Remember – whatever you say or do in front of the journalist is fair game for publishing.


Divulge “off the record” information

Interviewers may press for additional, “off the record” details for richer context. However, certain things can get lost in translation – such as when off-record information begins and ends. When it comes to interviews, remember that nothing is truly off the record, and it’s best to assume that everything you say can likely be published. Err on the side of caution and avoid volunteering sensitive material that can jeopardise your brand.


Use industry or overly technical jargon

Speaking in technical or industry-exclusive terms can alienate the interviewer and the audience, which deters you from connecting with them. Make yourself more appealing and relatable by offering answers that are easy to understand.


Forget to thank the interviewer

No matter what the turn of events were during the course of the interview, never forget to end on a good note. Always remember to show gratitude for the interviewer’s time and interest in coming in to interview you.


Set your organisation up for successful media coverage with the right PR partner that understands the local media landscape and is equipped to deliver high-performance results.


With trusted and high-profile partnerships across Singapore, Malaysia, and Southeast Asia, Blue Totem Communications’ team of highly experienced master planners and creative strategists can provide you with honest, no-nonsense advice and perspective on the ground. Get in touch with us at bluetotem.co/contact-us today.





Sometimes, it’s unexpected – one social media post or review can draw unwanted attention and affect the conversation surrounding your brand.


An unexpected backlash can stir up emotions within your team. While a coordinated and timely response is essential, think again before immediately drafting the first reply that comes to mind. Too quick and you may miss out on the nuances of the issue; too slow and you lose the opportunity to tell your story and manage the narrative.


When your brand is involved in a negative tweet or comment, here’s how to deal with it:


Keep all departments in the loop. Remember, everyone in the company will be seen as a spokesperson – not just your social media team. Inform them of what is happening and ask them not to post anything on social media – even on their personal accounts – about the issue until the company comes up with an official response.

  • Battle the knee-jerk response. It’s important to be sensitive to the situation. While you may be tempted to immediately respond, don’t. Consult with the appropriate team members before issuing any response, and focus on what you can control.

  • Be prepared to acknowledge the situation. If the press picks up the story, be prepared to issue a holding statement acknowledging the situation. This is not an admission of guilt or fault; this shows that your brand takes the issue seriously and is responsible about it. It also allows your brand to demonstrate transparency and empathy, and showcases your commitment to resolve the issue through a thorough investigation.

  • Monitor all conversations about your brand. Conduct social listening and monitor on-ground sentiment on what the public is saying about your business – which can help you address specific concerns in the near future.


How to avoid negative publicity:

  • Be proactive with your PR efforts. Don’t wait before a crisis strikes. Take control of your publicity early on by connecting with your community, share more about your products and services, talk about your company values and what you’re doing for social good. A loyal customer base can act as your ambassadors and further help spread the word.

  • Prepare for all possible scenarios. It’s important to prepare in advance for all possible scenarios that can come up. Consult your crisis communications team and formulate an internal communications procedure to pre-empt problems that can arise such as product or supplier issues. This team will help you navigate through all kinds of possible crises from your line of work, such as knowing the kind of statement you need to release in the event of a social media backlash, as well as briefing your stakeholders in advance.

  • Study how other companies have averted their own issues. Part of staying prepared is by studying how others have done in the past. Look into successful PR efforts; what worked for one brand and what didn’t work for another, and see what you can apply to your own company.

  • Set an example to your team. Be thoughtful of any gender or racial stereotypes your campaigns may be perpetuating. Better yet, genuinely advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace by promoting diversity in teams. Highlight to your teams the appropriate standards you expect them to adhere to in and out of the workplace, and follow through with clear, day-to-day actions.


Be prepared to deal with all kinds of publicity situations with a PR team that can strengthen your reputation and help you navigate through tricky issues. Trust your brand’s crisis with a reliable and savvy team of experienced PR practitioners that can help protect your brand’s reputation, monitor all conversations, and make your brand values resonate above it all.


Blue Totem Communications’ team of specialists proudly combines experience and know-how in effective and empathetic messaging that resonates with audiences. Our agency has also formed relationships with the most respected media partners across Singapore, Malaysia and Southeast Asia, helping brands foster trust and authenticity with their audiences.


Get in touch with us at bluetotem.co/contact-us today.