SG Media Literacy Council kerfuffle: When do you 'laugh off' online detractors?

About a week ago, the Media Literacy Council put up a post for parents to spot signs of their children becoming cyber-bullies. While done with positive intention, the post resulted in netizens commenting that the traits mentioned were over simplified and could just be "normal teenage behaviour" (scroll to bottom of page to see the post).

This ultimately led to MLC issuing a second, candid light-hearted post saying these were just "generic posts". Read the full apology below:

Unfortunately, the second post also did not appease netizens, with several saying that the organisation tried to "laugh [the matter] off", and the apology came off somewhat insincere. Others asked for the initial post to be removed as it could still be shared online.  At the time of writing, MLC did not comment on Marketing's queries on the matter.

In a conversation with Marketing, PR players such as Lars Voedisch, managing director, PRecious Communications said that when in doubt, sincerity goes further than humour/ light-heartedness in an apology. Coming across light-hearted could be being seen as lacking in the intention to apologise. "Moreover, the fact that it concerns children, a vulnerable audience, does the council no favours," he added.

"For parents, seeing the page makes them naturally concerned for their children, typically a vulnerable audience," he said, adding that engaged consumers demand fast-consumption of insights in record timing. This unfortunately was lacking from the initial post. Users expected accountability and clear actions, "but were only met with another generic, reactive statement," Voedisch explained.

Given that the trust on the MLC might waiver at this point g as  it was "not decisive and swift with responses",  Voedisch suggests that it now focus on thanking the public for the feedback, and apologising sincerely for the mistake. After which, it can ensure the audience on how it would approach the situation in the future given it is a known authority on the matter or cyber-bullying.

Lina Marican, managing director, Mutant Communications said that MLC should have apologised and acknowledged sentiments on the original post, instead of using the situation as a "lesson" for its followers.

She added that MLC should be open in sharing how it is tapping on its members expertise to build helpful and accurate content, instead of "generalising" actions. Like Voedisch, she suggests for MLC to produce a  follow-up post for an organisation that promotes online safety.

Here's the first post that was sent out:

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