In Vietnam, social media has become one of the most popular communication platforms. Despite the powerful effect of social media in conditioning a crisis, and the trend to integrate social media into crisis management strategies in many countries, Vietnamese companies have often ignored or underutilized these channels.
As part of my doctoral dissertation, I seek to compare the perception of social media in crisis communication in Vietnam to that in the US. As America has always been considered a role model and main influencer for Vietnam’s PR practice, the comparison can help understand the underlying factors contributed to that perception. I interviewed 12 Vietnamese practitioners and 8 American practitioners from different public relations firms who have two to 25 years experience working in the PR industry in their respective countries. You can find the conclusions summarised below.
But before that, let me point out the fact that despite the differences in perception between US and Vietnam regarding the use of social media in the above mentioned context, both countries (and indeed all cultures around the globe) tend to repond to crises in similar ways. Without adequate preparation and understanding of the issue faced by the organisation and without genuine interest to do things better so to avoid similar future problem (and for the narrative to get out of hand), people who run companies get carried away by personal feelings, they get into endless arguing with ever more details and they invest themselves beyond what’s necessary, effectively doing more harm to the reputation of their companies than good.
PR services can’t save businesses from themselves, but they can certainly educate the decision-makers, the social media managers and spokespeople to adopt a certain tone of voice when attempting to fix a public image crisis and to look for ways to own the narrative regarding their company. No bullet-proof recipe exists in this respect, because every crisis is unique (archive), every context differs and all audience members are, well, people. And people often behave differently behind a computer screen than they would in real life (IRL), as well as when they act as part of group than they are by themselves. Let’s just say that being human is hard work.