Social Media Channels

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.

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The use of KOLs (key opinion leaders or influencers) in marketing is getting more popular than ever. These KOLs have a significant number of followers, which makes it super easy to promote a brand or make something go viral. Since KOLs can bring instant awareness and sale, brands turn to KOLs as if it’s a must-have in their strategies. However, a poor choice or overuse of KOLs can make a marketing effort too promotional and unpersuasive.

If you are considering using KOLs in the Vietnamese market, here are a few things to consider:

1) Mind your objectives

It is important to decide which and how many KOLs to work with. If your marketing campaign needs a strong viral effect and wide spread, the option of choosing mid-range KOLs in large quantities is the most suitable. If you want sustainable credibility, you can opt for quality over quantity. Do not use KOLs with no clear marketing goals just because others are using KOLs too.

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This is the third part of a series on crisis communication on social media in Vietnam by GCPR member EloQ Communications. We previously wrote about why companies who operate in Vietnam should use social media more for crisis communication. Now we’ll explore some reasons why companies here often choose not to, and why most of those are mistaken.

1. They want to distance themselves from the crisis

Oftentimes, companies believe that by staying out of the fray they can ignore the controversy and it will die down on its own. But in fact, information avoidance is the least effective method of crisis management. That’s especially true in this age of social media posts, which don’t just vanish into the ether but catch on and spread, gaining more interested followers (and bandwagon jumpers) along the way. Not only does attempting to ignore a crisis make it look like a company doesn’t care about its stakeholders, but social media users who don’t receive a response (or receive an insufficient response) are more likely to stage campaigns and boycotts against the company. Sincere, open communication is exactly what stakeholders want, and it’s what will allow them to forgive a company and move on. Read more

This is the second part of a series on crisis communication on social media in Vietnam by GCPR member EloQ Communications.

Practicing public relations in times of stability is challenging enough, but what about when something goes wrong? That’s when crisis communication comes into play. Crisis communication as a subset of public relations is a fairly young practice in Vietnam. Just as companies and PR firms were beginning to learn out how to handle themselves in a crisis – using press conferences and official media statements – the rise of social media has left them scrambling, with some attempting to embrace social media while others stick to what they know. But making social media a central part of crisis response may be even more crucial here than many other places. Here are a few reasons why.

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As part of her doctoral dissertation research, Clāra Ly-Le, director of EloQ Communications, interviewed several public relations experts in Vietnam on the subject of crisis communication. Clāra’s work focuses on social media, but the insights expressed by the experts she found are often applicable regardless of the medium. What follows are some of the most worthwhile four pieces of advice she gathered and which organisations from most (if not all) industries should take into consideration when they face a potential or full-blown PR crisis.

Accept Fault Sincerely

If a simple error was made with no apparent victim, it is still good practice to acknowledge and change any false information (without calling too much attention to it). Consider how software companies regularly list bug fixes in their updates, even if they discovered those bugs themselves. When people were harmed, however, things get more complicated, and apologies and recompense become necessary, as well as being sensible towards other aspects of the business an organsation may have not been very mindful before.

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Today the VERO Public Relations team reports on the latest market trends in Vietnam.*

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Our global PR interview series is featuring Vietnam this week: The communication specialists of VERO Public Relations are giving us an insight into the general development of PR and current media and communication trends. Recent PR examples demonstrate how to utilize these trends to do successful PR in Vietnam. The series is based on phone or face-to-face interviews and written input, therefore please excuse language mistakes which might reflect foreign language influences.


1. What is the latest change in PR you have identified in your region?

Son Nguyen: PR activities and businesses’ opinion about them have changed significantly over the last few years. As Vietnam economy is growing swiftly and joined by more international companies, the need of building a strong brand image to be distinctive in the market has become vital. Thus, PR role has shifted from only polishing a brand name to communicate the brand key messages (or stories) to the public in both emotional and rational way.

For years, Vietnam did not have any professional institution or university majoring in PR. This is changing now. Both national and private foreign universities have established curriculum and courses focusing on communications, advertising and PR. At the same time, the bar for Vietnamese PR consultants is also lifting, requiring them to be more professional, open-minded and creative in order to meet international standards of their clients. Read more