There is no denying that with technology and social media, anyone with a camera-equipped smartphone is capable of reporting “breaking news” more quickly than any traditional media reporter.
By Chio Shuyu, Manager at SingHealth Group Communications
Last week, local netizens were abuzz over the late Yusof Ishak’s name being misspelt in the SG50 commemorative notes folder. A misprint is nothing earth shattering, you may say, but the point to note is that photos of the error were circulating on social media even before mainstream media could carry a full report which eventually included an official apology from the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
Earlier this month, BreadTalk came under fire for selling soya bean milk from Yeo’s, in bottles labelled “freshly prepared”. Once again, mainstream media picked up the story only after a video of a BreadTalk employee pouring the drink from a Yeo’s carton into bottles labelled “freshly prepared” went viral on the Internet.
There are many other cases that involve local public healthcare institutions.
Truth be told - no industry is spared from smartphone journalism. As healthcare providers, there are ways to prepare ourselves and respond to this phenomenon, especially during a crisis and when public trust in our institution is shaken.
Don’t speak to the media if you are not the appointed spokesperson. You should also not post sensitive information on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels to avoid misinformation.
Approach the communications or corporate affairs team for matters concerning the crisis. Timely updates to the public are important, and help to explain the current situation. Once information is ready, communicate your action plan - what is being done to fix the issue and prevent it from happening again.
Be transparent and sincere - better for negative information to come directly from the organisation in the form of an honest apology than a damaging indictment from critics or the media.
Communicate to staff about the incident and keep them informed of the action plan and key messages in a timely manner. This will help dispel conjectures and prevent rumours from circulating.
Strength in numbers - seek staff support as ambassadors of the organisation and be the rallying force behind them.
Familiarise yourself with the Corporate Media Policy and Social Media Policy.
We have our own social spheres and there is a high tendency that our colleagues, loved ones and close friends will look to us for information relating to a healthcare-related breaking news.
You can be prepared or risk being like a deer caught in the headlights.
Shuyu is the Manager of Group Communications at SingHealth HQ. Her key responsibilities include media relations, leadership communications, crisis communications and healthcare professions’ branding.