Singapore Elections: What It Means for Communication Professionals

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Singapore has moved into election mode, and Singaporeans will vote on Friday, July 10, 2020 — a day that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong proclaimed as a holiday in the televised announcement on Tuesday, June 23.

The President has dissolved the Parliament, and Nomination Day will be on June 30. Precautions to ensure safe voting amid the pandemic include more polling stations and glove-wearing to be mandated during voting.

With the short timeframe for the elections and restrictions on bigger events and rallies, we expect a significant impact on most businesses’ communication strategy including public relations, social media and digital marketing.With the short timeframe and restrictions on bigger events and rallies, we expect a significant impact on traditional and to some extent, also social media options for brands. For news cycles in the next three to four weeks, especially for Singapore-focused newsrooms and publications, the focus will almost exclusively be around election-related news. 

In our experience, this means that the entire newsroom of Singapore-focused publications such as Channel NewsAsia, Straits Times, Lianhe Zaobao, Business Times etc., will be scheduled for election duties. This will even impact journalists who typically cover tech, and business, as well as lifestyle and sports beats. They will now have to cover the regular duties of their local news colleagues.

However, this does not mean that there is absolutely no space for your PR activities: media, including the Singapore-focused publications, will still publish news outside of the election cycles. Do note that:

  • Typically, they will prioritise news that has a more prominent national and regional impact. Hence, more substantial news angles will have a better chance of being published.
  • The Singapore elections will not significantly impact more regional focused media. While they might still report on election news, their entire newsrooms will not totally be pivoting towards it.
  • There will be some key dates that have a higher impact than others on the news cycle. These include:
    • The days from the call for elections and up to nomination day. Parties have already started announcing candidates and are taking up a big part of local news.
    • The Nomination day (June 30, Tuesday)
    • The nine days campaign period (June 30 to July 8), especially at the start, after the weekend, and towards the end as candidates can only start their election campaigns from the close of nomination
    • Polling day (July 10, Friday, which is a public holiday), and a few days after, as media tend to write about the results, analysis, and predictions on the makeup of the new government 

Do discuss with your respective PRecious Communication teams (or with any other PR agency that you work with) about how you can adjust your news cycles around these guidelines. 

In general, we find that : 

  • For businesses that have to make an announcement due to specific deadlines, we try to mitigate the situation with longer lead times and embargoes or by offering exclusive interviews.
  • There may be selected opportunities to ride on more critical topics and themes that will dominate the political debate like economic recovery and transformation. Still, we advise brands to be extremely careful and not get pulled into discussions and debates.
  • Instead of PR activities focusing on Singapore, it might be prudent to look at how your story is relevant on a regional level or in other markets and prioritise those first – if applicable.
  • There are still opportunities for other communications activities. You can always look at social media or content-focused activities. However, please note that due to COVID-19 related restrictions, many campaigns will rely heavily on online channels – and especially webinars and streaming platforms. This fight for eyeballs might affect your planned online activities, especially in the evening hours.
  • The time during the Singapore General Elections might also be an opportunity to focus on strengthening content and strategising communications so that you come out with a stronger story after this. 

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