Lars Voedisch, Founder and Managing Director of PRecious Communications was featured in Marketing Interactive’s ‘Analysis News’ section on November 27, 2019, in an article titled “PR Troubles Fog Up SEA Games 2019 as ‘Teething Problems’ Arise at Event”. The South-East Asian Games 2019, held in the Philippines, have been nothing short of a PR disaster. The highly anticipated event was the first appearance of rising competitive sports like esports at the big stage. However, as a result of ‘teething problems’ like infrastructural issues, dietary problems, and accommodation complexities to name a few, the event became a topic of embarrassment for the organisers and the Philippine nationals.
Julianna Seow, Chef de Mission of Team Singapore confirmed that some ‘teething problems’ were faced by athletes and officials and ensured that the required measures are being put into place. In an attempt to stave off further negative press, she claimed that such issues are natural at the start of any big event. Nonetheless, her words could not stop the hashtag #SEAGamesfail from trending over social media.
Here is Lars’ Comment as Featured in Marketing Magazine’s Article ‘PR Troubles Fog Up SEA Games 2019 as ‘Teething Problems’ Arise at Event’
“In this current situation, simply apologising will not be enough and the organising body needs to immediately take some form of corrective action and ensure such problems do not appear again throughout the rest of the games. This corrective measure and actions taken, then needs to be amplified through communication tactics.”
“At the end of the event, it is the pictures and moments that will stick so the PR team handling the negative association needs to quickly start disseminating positive images and news from the SEA games instead.”
“The organising body may also consider having representatives from the teams come together for a conference to confirm their needs – to show that they’re genuinely listening.”
“By default, sponsors wouldn’t be happy about any negative news but at this point, the body also needs to look at the bigger picture and overall outcome.”
Why Are We Talking About This?
Just like one cannot win a sports game with talent alone, one cannot fix a broken reputation with sweet talk. PR does not just involve being good with words or charming the audience, it is earned media which also revolves around building a reputation through your work. Especially in the age of the internet, when information is available immediately and abundantly, words need to be backed up by actions.
President Duterte and Alan Cayetano have both taken huge PR hits from the event’s problems. The damage could have been mitigated had quick and effective action been taken by the organisers.
Had swift action been taken, the event would have probably gone on without a hitch, and the world would have remembered the great spectacle of the SEA, instead of Julianna Seow’s apologies.
This is the perfect example of how ‘actions speak louder than words’ is a very important mantra in the world of PR.