Understanding cultural nuances and how they guide effective communication is critical to successfully navigating a crisis.
Our key insights on how Thai culture influences the public’s reaction to crises can be used to guide effective communication should you ever find yourself thrust into the limelight off the back of a business mishap:
Be sincere, transparent, and accountable
When you first communicate with your audience during a crisis, recognise the cause of the situation, assume responsibility, and, most importantly, apologise.
Some Western cultures consider apologising during a crisis a recognition of incompetence. However, Thais prefer to hear your sincere apology before any explanation or justification.
Don’t argue, cover up, or point the finger at a scapegoat; this will garner mistrust and escalate the situation further.
Make victims your top priority
When a crisis strikes, focus your communication on those directly impacted. After apologising, take action to alleviate the inconvenience or suffering they are experiencing.
A previous case involving multinational oil and gas company BP showed that disregarding victims inevitably leads to widespread and vitriolic criticism.
KFC Thailand is a good example of how prioritising victims generated positive recognition. In 2014, the fast food outlet captured netizens’ attention for all the wrong reasons in 2014, after a video emerged of a staff member throwing cleaning equipment on the floor after being criticised by a customer for poor service. The situation escalated and resulted in the staff member in question facing abuse from the customer.
After investigating the dispute, KFC recognised that the employee’s behaviour had been inappropriate, but it also published a statement emphasising its support for human rights and sought measures to improve employee safety, setting a good example for the service industry that was widely applauded.
Demonstrating genuine compassion and concern lessens the chance of involved parties bearing a grudge and minimises the damage between your brand and key stakeholders.
Recognise the importance of your spokesperson’s performance
Organisations need to respond competently to minimise reputational and financial damage from the crisis. As a collectivist and Buddhist society, most Thais may not always be direct in sharing negative feedback. However, this does not make crisis communication any less pivotal to maintaining a positive brand reputation.
At Midas PR, we are experts in developing robust crisis management strategies that safeguard our clients’ reputations in the most challenging situations.
If you want to build your corporate resilience and ability to face any future uncertainties confidently, contact us for a consultation by visiting www.midas-pr.com or via email.