Managing a crisis in sensitive Malaysia

managing crisis in malaysia

Two words: Sensitive Malaysia.

And because this is how we Malaysians are, it is stressful to advertise and get flak for it.

You spend thousands, perhaps millions to come up with the right branding then launch an advertising campaign of sorts including video commercials which will most likely be skipped after seconds.

Go to all that trouble only to be shot down on Facebook by someone who taught a slab of wagyu beef was pork.

Try containing that!

If you know crisis management, there are many ways to do damage control.

But you got to be fast and fully prepared.

In the past, you have the luxury of controlling a crisis within 48 hours.

48 seconds to control crisis!

Not anymore, these days you only have 48 seconds!

A crisis disrupts business operations, threatens to harm people, damages your reputation, and negatively impacts your finances.

Infographic :

So how did Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) handle the pork issue?

It is learnt that the word ‘pork’ will no longer appear in Malaysia Airlines inflight magazine, Going Places.

MAB has since apologised, but clarified that the said image was actually of beef and squid.

The previous guideline was that photographs of pork could not be used.

However, the word “pork” is still permitted.

The recent move may now see future articles bearing the words “non-halal” with no mention of any pork dishes although they are on a restaurant’s menu.

It was previously reported that MAB said it did not mean to offend anyone with the promotion of a restaurant featuring pork on its menu, adding that it was an international airline carrying passengers of all backgrounds.

Taking advantage of a crisis

Meantime Curious Kitchen, the contemporary cuisine restaurant which serves the wagyu beef, has taken advantage of the spotlight to come up with a clever wagyu beef 10-year challenge.

The restaurant’s Instagram post features two identical images of the Tropicana Avenue restaurant’s Wagyu Strip Loin dish side by side with the caption, “Here’s our 10 Year Challenge. Drop by our kitchen and we’ll show you the difference.”

The image was also accompanied by a fine print that reads: “Haven’t cracked it? It’s still beef lah.”

Critical steps to manage crisis

Hence there are many ways to manage a crisis. But these are the critical steps:

  1. Have a plan–Every plan begins with clear objectives. The objectives during any crisis are to protect any individual (employee or public) who may be endangered by the crisis, ensure the key audiences are kept informed, and the organization survives. This written plan should include specific actions that will be taken in the event of a crisis.
  2. Identify a spokesperson–If the crisis could potentially impact the health or well-being of customers, the general public or employees, it may attract media attention. To ensure your company speaks with one voice and delivers a clear consistent message, a spokesperson must be identified as well as prepared to answer media questions and participate in interviews.
  3. Be honest and open–Nothing generates more negative media coverage than a lack of honesty and transparency. Therefore, being as open and transparent as possible can help stop rumors and defuse a potential media frenzy. This transparency must be projected through all communication channels: news interviews, social media, internal announcements, etc.
  4. Keep employees informed–Maintaining an informed workforce helps ensure that business continues to flow as smoothly as possible. It also minimizes the internal rumor mill that may lead to employees posting false reports on social media.
  5. Communicate with customers and suppliers–You do not want customers and suppliers to learn about your crisis through the media. Information on any crisis pertaining to your organization should come from you first. Part of the crisis communications plan must include customers and suppliers and how they will be regularly updated during the event.
  6. Update early and often–It is better to over-communicate than to allow rumors to fill the void. Issue summary statements, updated action plans and new developments as early and as often as possible. Remember that with today’s social media and cable news outlets, we live in a time of the 24/7 news cycle. Your crisis plan must do the same.
  7. Don’t forget social media–The Ebola crisis and other recent major news events have all confirmed that social media is one of the most important channels of communications. Be sure to establish a social media team to monitor, post and react to social media activity throughout the crisis.


Hence if you need our help to prepare you and your company to face a crisis and/ manage a possible crisis that your company may face, do get in touch with us at or mobile: +60193453213 and I will get right back to you.

For power tips on our training programs do watch our series of “Media Buzz with Anne Edwards” videos.

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