DHL Express MY comms head on the rise of citizen journalism's impact on PR

With the increasing use of social, there is a boom in citizen journalists. This has undeniably led to an impact on the PR industry in having to safeguard the reputation of their brands. “While both positive and negative, the rise of citizen journalism has brought on new challenges,” said Eileene Chong, head of corporate communications, sustainability and brand at DHL Express Malaysia. It is more important than ever for PR professionals to quickly and stealthily respond to reviews and comments fast to protect our brand reputation.

Along with speed, PR professionals have also had to pivot to the new world. As the pandemic forces people to be on lockdown and remain at home, PR professionals have had to turn their attention from traditional media to online channels to distribute communication through the various mediums and channels in the market

Chong, who will be speaking at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s PR Asia Conference, said, “The pandemic has changed us, the way we communicate, what we should communicate, and how we communicate. Brand communications have never been more important. Issues around the pandemic can be sensitive and PR professionals had to ensure they remain authentic while communicating about their brand.”

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What are some of the biggest changes impacting PR professionals this year?

Chong: These include but are not limited to reporting through digital channels, ensuring their key messages sound authentic, and not capitalising on the pandemic. As I mentioned earlier, PR professionals would also need to look into different ways and platforms to communicate their stories. PR professionals will need to continue to find ways to connect with their audience.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What are some best practices at DHL when it comes to addressing crises?

Chong: When addressing crises, we create trust through transparency, credibility, and active responsiveness. We will engage the senior management team, department heads, and set up a task force where necessary.  We communicate on all channels in the same way and maintain a "single source of the truth". We cover communication at all levels, from internal communications to the employees to keep them well informed to external communications where necessary. We provide them with holding statements to use both externally and internally to ensure the message is consistent at all levels.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What should brands take note of when it comes to communicating about sensitive issues such as race/politics/controversies? How can brands take a stand without seeming offensive?

Chong: Our organisation brings together people from many different cultural regions and backgrounds – with a wide variety of skills, experiences, and perspectives. Naturally, when sensitive issues arise, what we say to the public also reflects how we feel about our people. We need to ensure our statements and our actions reflect how we practice diversity in our organisation.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What do you think the future holds for PR?

Chong: When we talk about PR we are not talking purely about writing press releases. PR is used to tell stories and to build and maintain a corporate image.

We can already see an increasing focus on online content that caters to organisations’ customers. Content is now presented in various forms: infographics, short-form content, videos, and images. The PR practitioner can now tap on these mediums and new platforms to reach out to their audience.

The rise of influencers has also given PR practitioners another avenue to tell their stories. We should leverage these influencers as they can help reach out to a more targeted audience and tell more impactful stories while helping the stories to go viral.

While PR has evolved, the future of PR is bright – it has withstood the test of time and it will continue to do so.

Join us on week-long journey at PR Asia 2020 as we delve into topics such as diversity, cancel culture, future of PR, PR with a purpose and many others from 8 to 11 December. Sign up here!

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