Siti Nurbaya, the protagonist in the French novel I wrote which won me the Grand Prix of the Concours du Roman de la Nouvelle Francophone, twenty odd years ago didn’t have much of a chance at an interracial affair.
The illicit intimacy which eventually, out of cultural and religious differences, almost drew her psychologically delicate until she migrated to Europe where she started a new life, at an age most women would be comfortable with their spouses, and would not uproot.
The story was purely fictitious, hence a novel and not photojournalism, although it was based on the growing trend, and observations of interracial relationships between métisse couples, more of a mixed metaphor on the psychological edge — to comprehend the nature of how interfaith, and interracial work in a plural society such as Malaysia.
Being a British colony, French isn’t a language that is widely spoken amongst Malaysians; only in closed circles amongst friends; when dealing with French companies, or when working with the Embassy, the lycée français, or l’Alliance Française, hence to have been conferred laureate for the work was an achievement for me.
It was my first.
In an interview, the journalist had asked if the novel written in French, was based on my experience. I should have thought of all the possible answers to any irrelevant questions a journalist would ask, but not that. After all, I too had training and education in international journalism, but somehow that question escaped me.
I was left, speechless. You cannot afford to give the Press reasons to turn your story into sequels. The public love scandals. And I was too naive then, to know anything concerning humorous erotic escapades. I was still learning to fit in the hominian society as best I could.
In a crisis, Public Relations and Corporate Affairs must envisage when soliciting a Press Conference, especially if its impromptu and covered by broadcast media, all irrelevant questions too. Sometimes in the frame of things, stories can get misread and misconstrued, or signalled in a different light, that would then create blunders which would need instant rectification.
Assuming one is quick to deflect unwarranted questions, it is best to copy at least two generic answers that can be used for the just-in-case. Examples may include …
- “Excellent Question; We’ll get back to you on that”
- “Good question. Next!”
As you can see from the two examples, the first will gain you leverage to positively interact with the particular media after the PC, and create a closer liaison, if you haven’t already; whilst the second abruptly cuts the flow of a series of permissible questions that may follow suite.
Can you think of a copy or two for the just-in-case?
PressMedia and SocialMedia are your best allies — keeping a close rapport with them, through company social and marketing functions could, gain you the strategic advantage, especially with your A&M campaigns, in the near future. By having an insider or ambassador program for media-mavens, you would offset the challenges that come with in the fluid world of public relations.
SocialMedia has yet to gain a strong foothold in Malaysia, as traditional media is still effectively telling, and although it may be effective in certain social networks online, it is too fragmented to make an impact for startups or entrepreneurs unless they already are, strong publicly listed or established companies.
SocialMedia presents challenges in Asia for Public Relations consultants as well as practitioners to, through analytics and influence, measure returns-of-investment and returns-of-influence unless they can disperse information simultaneously creating the needed impact with their audience, whilst keeping tab with metrics. Remember there still isn’t a SocialMedia Audit Bureau, as we have with traditional media.
At least not that I know of as of writing this note.
Whom should PR Mavens work and create relationships with online to gain leverage of their clients’ brands — successful and influential bloggers, curators, Twitters, facebookers for these already have audiences of like minds and interests. Reaching outwards with a target focus is essential as there is a viral element when working with the right collective, and circulating your messages in reaching a broader audience than initially planned for often, pays for the social belonging you have created with, and for them.
- The Public Relations Strategic Toolkit: An Essential Guide to Successful Public Relations Practise by Alison Theaker and Heather Yaxley
- Public Relations Online: Lasting Concepts for Changing Media by Tom Kelleher
- Public Relations in Asia Pacific: Communicating Effectively Across Cultures by Mary M. Devereux and Anne Peirson-Smith
- Social Media Analytics: Effective Tools for Building, Interpreting, and Using Metrics by Marshall Sponder
- Tools of Engagement: Presenting and Training in a World of Social Media by Tom Bunzel