About 22 people attended a seminar cum forum on ‘Crisis Communication and Public Relations’ to learn from experts on how to project a good corporate image and handle crises effectively.
The one-day event, organised by WOU’s Centre for Professional Development and Continuing Education (PACE), was held at the Berjaya Times Square Convention Centre.
Dr Sankaran Ramanathan, a member of the academic team that established Malaysia’s first media and communications programme at Universiti Teknologi MARA, shared on ‘The Changing Nature of Public Relations and Crisis Communication’. He spoke on how to handle pressures to their business and resources, citing examples of how agencies dealt with the volcanic ash in Iceland and airline travel chaos, and also the H1N1 outbreak and the precautions taken by the relevant authorities in Malaysia.
Aisha Rashid, an accredited PR practitioner, in her presentation on ‘Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)’, stressed on the benefits of CSR to business, and the need for companies to show concern to the employees, community, and environment. “By not engaging in CSR, companies are not only under-managing their effect on society and the environment, but they are under-managing their own economic advantage,” she quipped.
Senior editor of The Star, T Selva, in his talk on ‘Media Relations’, shared the dos and don’ts for better media relations and that a good media relationship is earned through mutual respect, objective approach and frankness. Among the guidelines for working with the press are: to talk from the viewpoint of public interest and not that of the organisation; if you do not want some statement quoted, don’t make it; don’t argue or lose your cool with a reporter; and tell the truth, even if it hurts.
He mentioned the key steps in responding to a crisis, adding that if an organisation has planned for a crisis, then it can take control from the beginning by acting promptly and cohesively.
Lastly Prof Dato’ Mohd Hamdan Adnan, Institute of Public Relations Malaysia president, spoke on ‘Effective Government Relations: Dealing with authorities successfully’. He touched on legislative procedure, central agencies, public sector and the New Economic Model, and called for a better understanding of the Federal Constitution.
WOU Deputy Vice Chancellor U K Menon then chaired the forum on ‘Public Relations in Changing Times’ with the four speakers as panelists. The issues raised included the role of media reporting, future of the print media, the impact of social networking tools and public communication with government departments/agencies.