The Poetics of the C.V

By David Zhang, Delivery Consultant, MCG&Co

Jobseekers expect their C.V. to be the golden key to their search; yet, many do not carefully construct and polish up this document. I felt strange writing this post, giving advice to an audience of highly-talented job-seekers and hiring managers. I want to highlight that I got my current job at MCG&Co through crafting a compelling C.V.

This is my third month in the recruitment industry. Every day, I review at least fifty to one hundred C.V.s/LinkedIn profiles. If your C.V. cannot impress me, I doubt that it will fly by our clients. I have met with some really talented people who have not been able to convert their varied experiences and impressive achievements onto the page. I am becoming more aware of how candidates can stand out across the digitech, marcomms, and management consulting sectors­. With that said, I would like to share this insight with you.

candidates,

the c.v. is the key

to showcase your achievements,

to unlock job opportunities,

to highlight career progression,

to command another’s respect

oversell,

and you underperform

undersell,

and you lose out

clients and hiring managers,

help bring clarity to applicants,

craft your company’s narrative,

understand your culture and structure (or lack thereof),

stay consistent with your message across platforms

if you are a successful candidate,

your c.v. will bridge the perspectives of both parties

a marriage of principles and interests

helping you secure an interview

1) Declutter, declutter, declutter!

If your C.V. looks denser than my university readings, I will not be motivated to read about you (and even less likely to reach out via an InMail or a phone call). Explain your work as you would to a tenth-grade student, breaking down jargon into layman’s terms and quantifying tasks/projects completed. Distil your work into key points and keep them concise.

Fresh graduates, your C.V. can be a one-pager. Seasoned veterans, please limit yourself to three pages, focusing on roles over the last five years.

2) Get rid of that generic cover letter

If you’re going to include a cover letter, keep it personal. I would rather receive a short and convincing email of five sentences regarding specific incidences and examples than read your cover letter addressed to John Doe at Acme on Main Street.

3) Spell-check, edit, condense, proofread, and format

Ask your friends/family/professors/mentors to read your C.V. Use spell-check and several sets of eyes to ensure that your C.V. is properly proofread. Be sure to break down acronyms, as hiring managers could be from HR and not be familiar with the industry. Format everything nicely and save your work as a PDF–not everyone uses the same composition programme (Microsoft Word, LibreOffice Writer, Google Drive, for example)

4) Write with intention and an audience in mind

Make every word count. Let your voice emerge from your writing, particularly if you are applying for copywriting roles. If you are a creative, infuse your C.V. with your imagination. The goal is to ensure nothing is superfluous–keep everything focused and industry-specific. In addition, be sure to understand the culture of the organizations that you are applying to. Ensure that your “personality” on the page is in line with theirs.

5) Font and sizing

Garamond is safe middle-ground. Out are the days of Comic Sans. Safe advice: sans serif for designers, serif for client servicing/office-related work. Ensure headers are in a larger font.

6) Optimize your C.V. for A.I.-parsing

With the digitalization of the world comes the digitalization of hiring practices. Your C.V. will go through some level of processing, either by LinkedIn or an organization’s internal systems. If you are a designer, ensure that your relevant points stay in the same text box, so your information is not misread by the machines.

Post-script:

Superior to this advice, I would advise you to be sure to optimize your LinkedIn for recruiters. With the advent of Easy Apply and LinkedIn as a job portal, your profile becomes so much more important. Tag your profile to “open for opportunities” if you would like to be contacted about potential roles you would be a good fit for. Stay tuned for my next post on how to ensure your LinkedIn profile attracts head-hunters and talent consultants. Good luck!

The Communication Problem in the Communications Industry

The communication problem in the communications industry

By Surekha Ragavan, Campaign Asia

Handling multiple time-sensitive accounts at once is a tricky feat for PR agencies, and can often lead to communication breakdowns. But do in-house teams feel that they’re at the brunt of this problem?

At a recent panel by PRCA Southeast Asia in Singapore, three brand heads and one agency head sat down to debate common communication problems around the client-agency relationship, and how to go about fixing them.

You’re speaking my language

To optimise client-agency relationships, semantics are everything, according to Jeremy Seow, Singapore CEO of WE Communications.

“We all speak English but we don’t speak the same operating language. I think it’s really important when the words ‘marketing’ and ‘content’ means different things in an agency world and on the client side,” he said.

“A successful relationship is when they’re both on the same page about say, what content really does, or what is defined as top or bottom of the funnel. The faster you get there, it’s a starting point for the consultants on the agency side to really start thinking broader than just the press release that they create. It really pushes the team.”

On the other hand, it’s also common for young PR professionals—especially in Singapore—to use their agency experience as a springboard to an in-house role.

“Agencies are preparing them for this transition to client side. So we, as an agency, and as an industry, could do better in marrying some of the operating languages on both sides,” said Seow.

A first step to improving language, said Seow, is understanding what the terms ‘in-housing’ can mean for agencies. “We say ‘in-housing’ a lot, and that sometimes makes us feel like the ‘out-house’. And the out-house can feel like the dog-house,” he said.

Geraldine Kan, head of communications, Asia Pacific & Japan, HP, agreed with Seow and said that agency consultants should be treated and spoken to like extended team members.

“We need to have a shared idea of what success means. Because an agency might feel like they’re able to do really cool creative work. Whereas, as a client, I need something that’s measurable and I’m able to bring upstairs,” said Kan.

This ‘shared idea of success’ is echoed by Rasyida Paddy, ASEAN PR Lead for Oracle. “[Agencies] may be pitching certain things that appeal to a comms person, but you also need to understand that I’m proposing this to my client and I need to be able to socialise this idea internally,” she said.

“It’s about putting yourself in the clients’ shoes and understanding what they have to deal with in-house. For a lot us working in MNCs, we have to report back to stakeholders, the stakeholders report back to HQ, and HQ needs to report back to business stakeholders. All those stages might look different.”

One way to bridge that gap is a basic but no less vital step: ask questions.

“[Agencies need to] have visibility over how their clients spend their time. The truth of the matter is, for many of us in-house, a lot of time is spent in meetings. We are very time-poor. If you feel like you don’t get sufficient info that you need, just ask the questions,” said Paddy.

HP’s Kan concurs. “We live, eat and breathe our brand. And we have to educate our agency about the hard networks, the soft networks, where the decision-makers are. And I wish, I wish, I wish, agencies would ask me more questions. I really do,” she said.

“You have to know how your client is set up. With the way the ecosystem is integrating, I don’t think we have a choice. And this is incumbent not just on the brand, but also on the agency to find out how it works. Because otherwise, PHD is going to eat your lunch.”

WE’s Seow said that feedback or review sessions are also helpful for agencies to understand where they might be falling short. But of course, these sessions should also commend the good work they put out.

“I’ve worked with a lot of clients who are very solutions- and business-focused, they don’t really proactively talk about the good stuff that goes right. They only talk about all the stuff that goes wrong,” he said.

“And on agency side, we tend to think ‘I’ve screwed up, I’m going to be in bad shape’. In the past couple of years, I’ve been a lot more encouraged by these review sessions because we also talk about the good stuff.”

On the flipside, Derrick Koh, head of internal communications, East Asia & Japan, Schneider Electric, encourages agencies to review his in-house team.

“To get better quality of work, better efficiency, better speed, there has to be a better way than just providing complaints to the agency when they’re not stepping up to the game. So we thought, let’s self-reflect a bit. What can we as clients do better to help them along? Because at the end of the day, it’s like a marriage,” he said.

“The best person to keep you honest is the agency, they’re working with you day in day out. So we created a checklist and gave it to all our servicing people and said ‘why don’t you rate us on a half-yearly basis on these key criteria?’”

Is age just a number?

The rate of account handlers entering and leaving their positions is high, and oftentimes, this means that the account handler is fairly junior.

“I’ve seen unsuccessful agency relationships where the main account handler is one or two generations younger in terms of experience than the client. As a client leader or as an operations leader, that’s a recipe for disaster,” said Koh.

“At some point, we have to recognise that there’s a disconnect between them and the senior clients. Senior clients are still mostly 40 and above, and if you have an account director who’s never had that type of boardroom discussion and trying to present a one million dollar concept that executes across paid, earned, and owned at a very troubling economic time…”

On the plus side, Koh added that some bigger agency networks have started rectifying this problem by bringing back senior account handlers where necessary.

Young account handlers may have creative prowess, but may sometimes overstep into the “radical” zone, he added.

“Sometimes the client doesn’t ‘get it’ for various reasons, whether [the idea] is too advanced for the type of industry, or for the management, or the type of customers that the client has. So there should be some patience [on the agency side] when pitching an idea where the client doesn’t get immediately,” said Koh.

HP’s Kan said that it’s not just about age, but where to fit in different talent in different circumstances.

“In one circumstance, I might want to bring in somebody who’s 20-something and really creative to pitch an idea. And in times of a crisis or dealing with something reputational, I’d better have somebody in there who has gone through a few hard knocks,” she said.

“Stakeholder management is key, not only in-house but in the agency as well. It’s my job to help my team as well as the agency’s team understand what the stakeholders think. How we want them to feel. Ultimately, we’re people. We cannot forget that we’re working with different human beings with different skills and preferences.”

Read the news!

Don’t just read the room, read the news. What seems like an obvious must-do for PR professionals is, apparently, a dying trait.

“I feel like sometimes we forgot along the way that we’re consultancies, not just the production agency. We’ve forgotten how to be culturally, politically and economically aware to have that decent business conversation with clients,” said WE’s Seow.

“I’m beginning to see the decline in the number of people who read newspapers. Sometimes, I work with young PR professionals and I tell them ‘could you just do me a favour and read the Saturday paper?’”

Koh said that it’s “music to the client’s ears” when the agency can start their conversation or pitch with a big picture comment linked to the client’s business.

“Something that’s current, something that’s not just craft-related, something that they know has some sort of direct or indirect relation to a business impact,” he said.

“It’s fine to say ‘hey, we can put out a press release, hold a press conference, we can hook up with this influencer’, but to what end? I think fundamentally understanding and speaking that bigger business language is important. For an agency, it’ll do well to have a good grasp of that. It’ll lead to more work, more credibility, and it’ll build trust.”

On top of that, a better worldview also means better work. He cites the conceptualisation and success of Nike’s campaign last year with Colin Kaepernick.

“A good agency might say ‘It might be a PR project, but hey, can we pull marketing in?’ because we need that kind of marketing activation and the budgets that they have to make this a bigger idea. I don’t think [the Nike campaign] started and ended as a PR idea. It had legs in different parts of the organisation,” he said.

HP’s Kan agreed that reading the news should be mandatory for agencies. “They have to figure out what people’s interests are and what they’re talking about. You need those insights to go anywhere – because your C-suites are reading those papers,” she said.

“What’s happening to your clients is a function of geopolitics and economics. If you can’t have that discussion, I’m sorry but there’s no seat at the table for you.”

Original Source: Campaign Asia

How important is your job title in Asia?

By Prospect‘s Asia Pacific Team

There is no denying that job titles are important the world over. As human beings, what we do forms a huge part of our identity, self-worth and, centuries ago, even our surnames. Fast forward to the twenty first century and little has changed, particularly within the Asian market. The culture of business cards has given such huge precedence to the job title, that it is hard not to be instantly judged on a first meeting. And it’s not just clients and industry peers; whether you are a vice president or a senior manager could influence friendships, family relations and even finding a life partner.

So, how does this phenomenon affect business in Asia? Well, undoubtedly the title obsession can lead to feelings of worthlessness and dissatisfaction for workers. Even if you are highly successful in terms of your KPIs, not being promoted to a higher rank within a given timeframe, can feel like a huge blow. And as companies dish out more exciting sounding roles to appease employees’ need for status, they inevitably suffer from job title inflation. Who doesn’t have the word ‘senior’ or ‘lead’ in their title? As is the nature of inflation, this devalues the whole meaning of these supposedly impressive words.

In Asia, the issues are certainly complex but perhaps a logical solution could lie in looking beyond the title to something more tangible: the skillset. As a recruiter, employers are far more interested in a candidate’s knowledge, experience and passion for the role than their previous job title. Moreover, once you are in the interview room, a solid skillset and evident outcomes will carry far more weight than a title. The words ‘vice president’ alone will not demonstrate that you have good interpersonal and leadership skills.

But it is not just about getting the job, it’s about getting the right job for you. As a jobseeker, taking more time to study the spec and skills required, will inevitably prevent ending up in a role which does not suit. By finding out exactly what the role entails and if it is something that will motivate you day in, day out, is key to your future happiness. After all, surely being in a job that meets your aspirations in terms of growth and personal satisfaction, far outweighs the moment’s pride of flashing a new business card?

Naturally, this is easier said than done when there are networking events and family dinners to attend but maybe we need to change the way we answer the dreaded work question. How about removing your business card and job title altogether. Instead, talk about what really drives you, what you are passionate about and how you are making an impact. You may be met with ‘OK…but can I see your card?’ nevertheless you have shown what’s important to you. Ask yourself, is this person worth doing business or associating with if they are still only interested in what’s on paper?

Essentially, the Asian culture of the business card is not going to change overnight and perhaps not everyone wants it to. Titles may fill us with pride, but maybe for the wrong reasons if our 9-5 happiness is being neglected. Your skillset, passion and diligence mean more to both your employer and your long-term satisfaction. So, be brave, leave the cards at home and let your own voice define you.

About Prospect

Since opening our doors in the UK, back in 2002 and then Asia in 2010, we have loved working with an industry that blends the creative with business. Acting as an extension of our clients, we have been thrilled to advise a range of organisations on how to attract and retain their talent; from global brands to PR agencies. Getting under the skin of what our clients need and what our candidates want, makes us get up in the morning. Find out more here.

Life On The Other Side…

By Marlené Brewis, Consultant, MCG&Co Creative & Digital

As fancy as some may find the word Expat, it rolls off one’s tongue easier than the lifestyle projects. It’s bloody hardcore! Anyone who has mastered the skill of this lifestyle deserves a Cannes award, or maybe, just a pat on the back will do…

Being an expat for the past 6 years, I have been across the world from the UAE to the UK, Malaysia and now Singapore. Living in these diverse cities where overalls are traded in for designer suits, brunches become drunches and flipflops Jimmy Choo’s; the world of an Expat sounds Lush, I know…but not quite. Behind the scenes of all these amazing things lie deeper challenges when it comes to being an expat. Read more

Write right: How erors is reely kiling you’re credabilty

By John O’Callaghan, JOC Comms

 

Reading the comments section of online news stories and social media posts, I wince and shrug when people confuse “your” and “you’re”, leave out the apostrophe in “haven’t” or use creative phonetic spellings such as “incompatance”.

But I really get incensed when I see very basic errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation in articles, blogs and press releases from professionals who should know better or at least make an effort to do better.

As a communications consultant and former journalist, I’m passionate and sometimes pedantic about good writing.

Yes, language evolves and everyone makes mistakes. But how you write makes a big impression.

The devil is in the details. If your email or story is riddled with basic errors, the reader starts to question how thorough and accurate you’ve been with the rest of the information. Your abilities and credibility suddenly become an issue.

Luckily, there are plenty of tools and courses — many of them online and free — that can help you spot mistakes and improve your writing.

But no technology is perfect and there is no substitute for learning the basics, so here is a primer on how to avoid simple mistakes in whatever you’re writing.

(By the way, this is especially true if you’re getting inked up. It’s advisable to triple-check every last detail before the needle sinks into your flesh. Indeed, knowledge is power in the tattoo parlour.)

English is a particularly tricky language for spelling, with many exceptions to the rules and words that sound the same but are spelled differently.

This is one of my favourite examples about how a rule we all learned at school doesn’t always hold true: “I before E except after C — except when your foreign neighbour Keith receives eight counterfeit beige sleighs from feisty caffeinated weightlifters. Isn’t that weird?”

Spelling can be tough but spell-checkers are built into almost every writing platform, so use them. Just don’t trust them 100 percent and always check the dictionary to make sure.

Here are some pointers to avoid mistakes in spelling and usage that are amazingly common:

Their daughter is studying thereThey’re very proud. (Their shows possession or association. There denotes a place or direction. They’re is a contraction of “they are”.)

Your dog is yoursYou’re his owner. (Your and yours show possession or association. You’re is a contraction of “you are”.)

It’s = it is (“It’s warm outside”)

Its = possessive (“Give the dog its bone”)

Apostrophes are misused all the time. It’s “1970s” (plural for the years in that decade) not“1970’s” (which would be possessive)

To: Describes an action or destination. (“I went to the store”)

Too: Describes an extreme (“It’s too cold to go outside”) or is a synonym for also (“She went to Rome, too”).

Fewer: “There were fewer than 10 people.” (Countable noun)

Less: “You should eat less meat.” (Uncountable noun)

Perhaps it’s just me but lately I’ve noticed many people misusing “who” and “that”.

Who is for people. (“She is someone who never gives up”)

That is for objects or non-human living things. (“This is the dog that chewed your shoe”)

I’ll wrap this up with a dash through punctuation marks — the traffic signals on the road to clarity and understanding. In the writing courses I run, I use an example to show how the placement of a colon and a comma transforms the entire meaning.

An English professor wrote on the board: A woman without her man is nothing. The class was asked to punctuate the sentence.

The men wrote: “A woman, without her man, is nothing.”

The women wrote: “A woman: without her, man is nothing.”

Emoticons and emojis never belong in professional writing. 😡 👎😡 👎😡

Are question marks effective? They can be but use them sparingly.

Exclamation points do not belong in pitches, press releases and presentations!

Double dashes can be very effective – to highlight a point or a list of items – but do not overuse them.

To convey information clearly and cleanly, bullet points are great for:

  • lists
  • action points
  • statistics

Colons are used to set off a list before bullet points or within a sentence. “He had three points to make: this, that and the other thing.”

Personally, I dislike the Oxford comma — “She ate bananas, grapes, and strawberries” — as an unnecessary interruption between “grapes and strawberries”. But I make an exception for the sake of clarity: “She went to the bank and the store, and called her mother after lunch.”

I realise the Oxford comma is a very emotive topic, so that’s enough about that…

The punctuation mark I truly despise is the semicolon, which is used to link two independent clauses that are closely related. But most people don’t know how to use it — or overuse it — so it’s better to use “and” or break the sentence in two.

Here I will leave you with the immortal words of author Kurt Vonnegut in a rant of mine published in the Economist.

Of course, the editors could not resist a little poke of punctuation in the headline…

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Influencers – the turning point: Five reasons why micro-influencers are the future of social media marketing

Pippa Brindley, Director of leading boutique and specialist PR firm, VIM & VIGOUR PR, discusses how Instagram presents new opportunities for communications professionals to leverage their micro-networks.

An influencer is defined as someone that inspires you to think in a way that you wouldn’t usually think, or act in a way that you wouldn’t usually act. As the social media space continues to grow, so does the potential for a brand to reach a wider audience through influencer marketing, endorsements and paid partnerships. Those with more followers have a higher visibility –  and the more exposure the better, right?

Instagram users with over 50,000 followers are qualified as ‘macro influencers’ and we now have a market saturated with these, each attempting to capitalise on a supposed ability to inspire their audience by working with brands to filter into the news feeds of hundreds of thousands. What’s resulted is a space flooded by repetitive, generic user behaviour and a lack of consumer trust. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that no one is actually influenced to do anything aside from close off their networks, increase their privacy settings and live satisfied within a domain of individuals who they legitimately know, respect and trust. We all heard of 2019’s #NoChella – a backlash motivated by fatigue of the content heavy, brand plugging, overpriced annual music festival. And of course, 2017’s Fyre Festival whose engagement with macro influencers had an equally macro impact on consumer confidence.

Igniting a fresh wave of social media engagement, the new aspiration and ultimate status symbol is to be part of close-knit circles and exclusive communities with exposure to products and services available to a privileged few.  With this in mind, the ‘micro influencer’ sector continues to head to the forefront of digital marketing.  Defined as having anything between 2,000 and 50,000 followers, what lacks in numbers is made up for with knowledge – micro influencers work in their relative industry, are passionate about it, and add value to it.  if Instagram were to collapse tomorrow, micro influencers wouldn’t be out of a job.

 

So here are 5 reasons why micro influencers represent the future of social media marketing:

  1. Consistency. From their personality and their page’s visual aesthetic to their expertise and opinion, micro influencers maintain a consistent set of core values, making them stronger and more reliable brand ambassadors. Their influence goes beyond the screen into their professional and personal lives, activity and interactions, providing steady and holistic opportunities to influence in all daily situations.

 

  1. Loyalty. Micro influencers foster a community they care about and work with brands they’re passionate about. They won’t be no-shows at events or only engage with their communities when the camera is rolling – they take pride in supporting individual businesses and building a solid long-term working relationship with them, with a shared vision to succeed.

 

  1. Credibility. Micro influencers have a history of success and authority in their specific field – whether its fashion, art, design or nutrition – they’ll have a portfolio of evidence to prove their integrity and wealth of experience over the millennial and Gen-Z influencers who are still on the lower rungs of the career ladder. In the rise of fake sponsored content posted by aspiring influencers in a bid to fool brands they already have credibility, micro influencers stand out with a firm and existing reputation as thought leaders, and a larger ability to achieve organic success and higher engagement.

 

  1. Relevancy. If your audience can genuinely relate to you, your impact as an influencer is higher. Micro influencers have a more attainable and realistic looking lifestyle – they’re friendly and accessible, two characteristics which make them stand out against the masses of macro influencers posting unrealistic content. For brands, the number of followers is becoming increasingly insignificant – questions have long been raised as to what makes a number of followers credible, are they relevant to the brand, are they real, or even active at all? Ultimately, who actually buys something that’s been recommended to them by a stranger?

 

  1. Affordability. $10,000 for a single post from a top-tier influencer is better invested in a campaign with 10 micro influencers – reaching a more highly engaged, targeted audience. While the big brands seek the next global supermodel for endorsement, overexposure can have detrimental effects, and the smaller businesses have an opportunity to thrive. By working with micro-influencers who closely align with their target market, brands with a smaller budget have a unique opportunity to emerge against the masses in an affordable way.

 

Social Media and Critical Digital Literacy in India’s General Elections

by Anuradha Rao

The recently-held Indian general elections highlighted the crucial need for critical digital literacy as a key tool to fight fake news and uphold election integrity in a social media-saturated environment. In a commentary published for the National University of Singapore’s Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), Dr. Anuradha Rao has noted that critical digital literacy is particularly important at the digital fringes, where marginalisations and technology intersect. Developing human capabilities and smarter citizens is essential in light of the inability of artificial intelligence (AI) and technological solutions to detect and weed out fake news, hate speech, and propaganda on their own.

Social Media and Political Engagement
Social media has increasingly influenced public opinion and discourse in India since the landmark 2014 general elections, which saw the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Narendra Modi rise to power through the skilful leveraging of new media. Since then, social media has been used by political parties and actors as a regular tool of political communication, not just during, but between, elections as well.
The advent of social media has significantly impacted the nature and type of political communication and democratic engagement in India. The democratisation of (political) communication has also placed citizens at the receiving end of high levels of propaganda, misinformation, and fake news – resulting in increased political polarization, toxic public discourse, and violence.
Within this context, the ECI directives and internet companies’ monitoring of social media content would make cyberspace a more viable space for democratic engagement. However, these efforts need to be supplemented by citizens and civil society efforts as watchdogs, both online and offline.

For example, the ECI’s cVIGIL app provides citizens a means to report model code violations and electoral malpractices in real time, with a fast-track complaint reception and redressal system. Similarly, as technology companies have now realised, the limitations of artificial intelligence (AI) to weed out problematic and dangerous content make the involvement of humans a necessary condition.

The Digital Fringes
In both cases, the role of informed and active citizens is critical for efforts to clean up social media spaces and uphold election integrity. Where this gets tricky in the Indian context is that the success of such initiatives requires critical digital literacy, a crucial ingredient that is sorely lacking among netizens. Whereas media/digital literacy focuses on the effective use of information technology (IT) devices and services, critical digital literacy goes beyond this to instil critical thinking skills about the authenticity of content, and how it is consumed and shared.

Unfortunately, despite – or perhaps because of – the dizzying speed of mobile phone and internet penetration in India, the state (and even the private sector) has lagged behind in implementing critical digital literacy programmes and public awareness campaigns about the dangers of social media. Populations on the digital fringes viz., those with little or no access to new technologies and/or limited skills to use them effectively, are particularly susceptible to falsehoods peddled online.

The location at the digital fringes is not just a matter of technology, but the result of a series of disempowerments–class, caste, gender, age, geography, etc. Those on the digital fringes include the poor, rural populations, women, the disabled, migrants and internally displaced populations, and the elderly. The combination of rapid digital connectivity with little-to-no critical digital literacy is a time bomb, as evidenced in a string of social media-fuelled mob violence and lynchings in 2018.

Critical Digital Literacy and Election Integrity

Spurred into action by these horrific acts and government pressure, internet companies have initiated measures to detect and remove malicious content and tackle inappropriate behaviour and abuse ahead of the upcoming elections. They have also launched critical digital literacy programmes in partnership with government, private institutions, and civil society organisations.

These, and other digital literacy and cyber awareness programmes initiated by Indian corporate and not-for-profit organisations, are critical first lines of defence in tackling fake news and other problematic content. Such initiatives also play an important role by supplementing the efforts of the national digital literacy schemes launched by the government. Although an ambitious and significant step toward increasing rural digital literacy, the programme has suffered from several limitations, and does not include critical digital literacy in its curriculum.
Already there are a handful of fact-checking websites run by committed individuals, such as Alt News, Social Media Hoax Slayer, Check4Spam and Boom that are fighting fake news on a
daily basis. To make a real dent, however, their commendable efforts must be supported by higher journalism standards in the mainstream media, as well as through critical digital literacy programmes implemented on a national scale.

Conclusion
With the general elections just two weeks away, the thrust on critical digital literacy, particularly for those on the digital fringes, acquires greater urgency. Developing human capabilities and smarter citizens is crucial in light of the inability of AI and technological solutions to detect and weed out fake news, hate speech, and propaganda on their own. The need for collaborative actions – between academia, governments, technology companies, civil society and citizens – to instil critical digital literacy skills goes beyond upholding election integrity to defending the core principles of democracy itself.

. . . . .

Dr Anuradha Rao is an independent researcher and consultant on information and communication technologies for civic and political engagement, digital politics, and smart cities, based in Singapore. She can be contacted at anuradha.rao62@yahoo.com. The author bears full responsibility for the facts cited and opinions expressed in this paper.

Tips For Thai Companies On Engaging An Audience In Vietnam

With recent major inroads by SCC, Nawaplastic Industries, and TCC Holdings, Thai companies continue to ride a wave of investment in Vietnam by expanding sales of Thai products and mergers and acquisitions of Vietnamese companies. However, they may find some surprises among the Vietnamese market. Here are a few things Thai businesses should know about their new Vietnamese customers:

 

  1. Social media is the same, but different

Like Thailand, Vietnam has a large and growing online population, with 55 million people online and approximately 40% of them active on social media. The latter are concentrated in the younger demographics, which are a greater force in relatively young Vietnam (median age 30.5) compared to aging Thailand (median age 37.7). Whether it’s a matter of this age discrepancy or cultural factors, Vietnam’s social media presence is its own thing.

Sure, Facebook is still king, used for everything from advertising to event sharing to fan pages. But Line, while ubiquitous in Thailand, is niche in Vietnam with a penetration of merely 6%. Among chat apps, Japan’s Viber and Vietnam’s homegrown Zalo fare better, especially in suburban and rural markets, since it offers an all-Vietnamese interface and services catered to Vietnamese interests and needs. Other global platforms that are huge in Thailand, particularly Instagram and Twitter, have far less clout in Vietnam.

 

  1. Cash is King

Compared to other countries in Asia, Vietnamese are not big fans of keeping their money on a card, and most purchases are still handled in cash. The trendiest form of online shopping involves ordering products from local Facebook groups, which are shipped by courier and paid for at the door. This means that efforts to offer cash services will be rewarded, while those who fail to implement them may be punished. For a restaurant or hotel, requiring a credit card to book reservations means losing out on customers. And for online sales, COD should always be an option.

The consequences of not meeting this need must be evident to the ride service Uber, which initially relied on its standard credit card and bank transfer payments. Vietnam was the second place in the world where it rolled out cash payments (after India), but by then it may have been too late to catch up, and Uber ultimately ceded the market to its cash-friendly competitor, Grab.

 

  1. The attention you need will cost you

As a result of low salaries among Vietnamese journalists, some measure of “media taken” (direct payment or gift) is expected in return for coverage. This also means you’ll have to work a little harder for consumers’ trust, and you’re better off reaching out to more established media with reputations to maintain.

Traditional outlets like Tuoi Tre and Thanh Nien are solid choices, but digital news media may be even more important. Most young Vietnamese get their news online from sites like VnExpress, Zing.vn, and 24h, which are all three among Vietnam’s top 10 visited sites.

By Derek Wells, an International Relations Associate and Copywriter at EloQ Communications (formerly Vero IMC Vietnam), and Clāra Ly-Le, Managing Director of EloQ Communications. This article was originally posted on EloQ’s blog. For more information on EloQ Communications, please visit www.eloqasia.com.

How To Handle A Crisis Scenario, According To Vietnamese PR Experts

As part of her doctoral dissertation, EloQ’s Managing Director – Clāra Ly-Le – interviewed several public relations experts in Vietnam on the subject of crisis communication. Clāra’s work focuses on social media, but the insights expressed by experts were often applicable regardless of the medium. What follows are some of the most worthwhile pieces of advice she gathered.

ACCEPT FAULT SINCERELY

If a simple error was made with no apparent victim, it is still good practice to acknowledge and change any false information (without calling too much attention to it). Consider how software companies regularly list bug fixes in their updates, even if they discovered those bugs themselves. When people were harmed, however, things get more complicated, and apologies and recompense become necessary.

One company had a crisis due to milk contamination. According to an expert: “They resolved the root cause because they apologized to the consumers sincerely. At that time the consumers were angry, but later they saw the honesty of the brand. The brand also regularly updated the press even though the information was negative. They regularly reported to the media how many products they had recalled.” It’s this transparency that allowed the company to regain stakeholder trust after a potentially devastating disaster.

Meanwhile, in 2014 a separate drink company found themselves in a bind when a shop owner discovered a dead insect in a sealed drink and demanded money in return for his silence. Rather than take accountability and address the issue, the company offered money then called police on the man before he could take it. This resulted in the story of the insect being amplified by the story of the man’s arrest and imprisonment, creating a major fallout. The company lost control of the message, failed to adequately apologize, and soon faced a consumer boycott that cost them $89 million in losses over the next year.

 

OFFER MEANINGFUL COMPENSATION

Several experts mentioned the response of a certain large electronics company which produced a flagship device whose explosive tendency got it banned from airplanes. They said that it was the company’s thorough and convenient recall offer, with the option of a full refund or exchange, that eased consumers’ minds and allowed them to renew their trust in the company.

“They made mistakes in their technology, but their communication and crisis management were not wrong,” one expert says regarding this case. “If a brand apologizes and aggressively attempts to rectify the problem on a large scale, consumers will not deny it. It takes practical action along with apology to help settle the matter.” It’s important to note that solutions should be offered on a case-by-case basis. “Do not be afraid of wasting money and do not think each case is small,” another expert says. “If many cases come together, they will create a big crisis. We have to deal with each one individually, so people will feel respected.” The expert adds that this approach of respectfully addressing consumer complaints can in fact increase their loyalty following a crisis, as they feel that the brand cares about what they have to say.

 

TAKE PROMPT ACTION

A foreign car company was shown to have defective brakes on one model which created a safety issue, reports an expert. “[The company] apologized to their customers and recalled all the cars to check the issue. The Vietnamese public approved of this action and appreciated that the brand cared about the safety of its customers.”

A separate foreign motorcycle company had a similar issue with defective parts on bikes sold in Vietnam. As another expert relates: “They told all consumers who bought their motorbikes to go to their dealers, who would replace the defective parts free of charge and bear the full cost of repair.”

In each of the above cases, the crisis was diffused by a prompt and thorough response before it could damage the company.

Companies who were less successful at crisis management, the latter expert says, “did not receive positive reactions from the public because they released their apology at the wrong time, and left the problem unsolved too long.”

After a crisis has passed, experts recommend continued corporate social responsibility [CSR] programs to help restore the company’s image.

 

THE THEORY BEHIND THE PR

William Benoit’s influential “image restoration theory” identified five methods by which organizations and individuals attempt to correct their image. These are denial, evasion of responsibility, reduction of offensiveness, corrective action and apology. Benoit states that the best action to take depends on circumstances, but some are more effective than others.

Denial, for instance, is only advisable for the truly innocent. Otherwise it can backfire and cause further damage when the truth is revealed.

If an organization is at fault, most experts agree that a sincere public apology, followed by expression of remorse and regret, should be the first option on the table. Afterwards, corrective action goes a long way. That can mean a number of things, from promises of changed behavior or policy, to removal of offenders, to some form of restitution for those harmed by the company’s actions.

Somewhat predictably, experts also say that such an apology is the least-used strategy among Vietnamese organizations, who tend to ignore crises in the hope that they will fade away on their own. This approach may work for a small incident (and if they are lucky), but in the modern world where information is easy to share online it’s just as likely to fail spectacularly. Surely the ideal is to avoid a crisis entirely, but crises are not always predictable. When they do occur, organizations should be prepared to respond with honesty, dignity, and respect for their stakeholders.

 

This post was published by EloQ Communications, Vietnam, and written by Clāra Ly-Le, Managing Director  of EloQ Communications. It was originally posted on EloQ’s blog here.

For more information on EloQ Communications, please visit www.eloqasia.com.

Building your Confidence, Assertiveness&Influence

By Emanuela Giangregorio MPRCA

Communications professionals are expected to model great interpersonal skills.  We are not all naturally confident and assertive, and often find it difficult to say “no” or get others on board with our ideas.   The good news is that these skills are all learnable through awareness and practice.   No matter where you are on the confidence scale, below are Three Confidence Boosting Practices…

 

  1. Practice High Self Esteem

“Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your handbrake on.” – Maxwell Maltz

Self-limiting beliefs and self-doubt are the biggest confidence killers. They are rooted in fear of failure, and a disproportionate perception about the consequences of failure.  Are you aware of your inner voice?  What is the running commentary that goes on inside your head? What sorts of things do you say to yourself ? The first step to practicing having a high self-esteem is developing your self-awareness and knowing when your thoughts are empowering and when they are disempowering.  I don’t know anyone who can truly say they feel empowered when they say things to themselves like “I’m not good enough” or “They probably won’t like me”.  These are examples of limiting thoughts that lead to limiting self-beliefs that lead to low confidence.  Next time you have a limiting thought, dismiss it as you would swipe a boring news article on your smartphone.  Then replace it with an empowering affirmation, like “I am confident because I am competent.”

 

  1. Practice Positivity

“Choose to be optimistic; it feels better” – Dalai Lama XIV

If you think about the people you really like to spend time with, it’s likely they are all optimistic positive people in their outlook.  An outlook is the way a person chooses to interpret their experience.  Having a positive outlook is easy when things go well.  The best time to practice positivity is when things are tough.  Now, “tough times” means different things to different people.  I’ve seen a woman reduced to tears because she broke her finger nail minutes before she had to go out.  I’ve seen a senior executive complaining to his team about how the Compliance Department are a “useless waste of space” because they raised quality issues in his department.   I’ve also seen a manager, who knew her job would be redundant in 3 months and had to train others to do her job before she left, say to her team “everything happens for the best; you’ll see that this restructure will benefit the business and give you opportunities that you never had before, so embrace it.”  Negativity leads to unnecessary misery.  Why be miserable?   This doesn’t mean you should accept everything and not complain when you are dissatisfied. However, when you complain from a mental state of positivity, you are likely to see far greater collaboration than when you are projecting from a place of negativity.

 

  1. Practice Visualising

“Visualization is daydreaming with a purpose.” – Bo Bennett

If you feel you’re lacking in confidence, practice visualising a version of yourself that is confident.  To do this, choose a time of day when you have 5 minutes to yourself and can sit comfortably with your eyes closed.  Take a deep breath in and let it out slowly.  Do this two more times.  Now, imagine yourself in a work place or social scenario where you would love to exude confidence and assertiveness.  See yourself in that scenario.  Pay attention to what you look like, what you’re wearing, your body language and what you’re saying.  Now magnify that image of yourself. See yourself in this movie as a highly confident personFEEL how proud you are to be that person.  All the time, breathing deeply in and out.  See how others are responding to this confident version of you. Open your eyes and pay attention to how you feel.  Do this for 5 minutes each day, for 21days in a row, and notice the difference.

In conclusion, if you are able to interact with others confidently in a variety of situations, you will not only be more successful but your life will be enriched too.  Would you like to learn more and be coached on techniques to unlock your ability to positively influence others with confidence?  Attend my course  “Building your Confidence, Assertiveness and Influence”  through PRCA SEA.

After this course you will have an increased self-awareness, and will benefit from the opportunity to understand and practice some confidence, assertiveness and influencing techniques that work.    With ongoing practice, these skills can become second nature.  This will reduce your anxiety, help you become more effective in delivering successful outcomes and greatly improve your working relationships.