Public relations are among the areas that are not spared from changes brought by the digital landscape. PR personnels need to change or risk being left behind.

According to Ms Yan Lim, CEO of iOli Communications Sdn Bhd, “traditional PR and digital PR are crucial in enhancing awareness, engaging, connecting and communicating with audiences using platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Tik Tok”.

She said, “the combination of traditional and digital PR are critical to encourage audience participation, knowing who your audience is, what they want and their choice of media. Different products require different platforms, depending on your target audience. “

Ms Yan hinted a good PR practitioner has a well-prepared strategic communication plan, and are able to respond to hot topics immediately, and interact with target audience and followers.

She said: “These factors will help PR (practitioners) to run campaigns or convey information effectively. It also helps to improve the reputation of a company, individual and product/ service.”

Case studies were also presented and discussed among the participants to give better ideas how Digital Marketing can be successful.

Ms. Yan also shared some analytic tools that PR practitioners can use to obtain useful data which include the Insight section of Instagram Business or Facebook Business Suite. She said the section would provide practitioners with data such as the level of engagement, reach, profile visit and others. A summary analysis is also available.

PR officer can evaluate the impact of the posting to drive better audience engagement and grow their online brand reputation.

She said there are various ways PR personnels can adopt to reach potential customers, this includes engaging influencers to help deliver campaign messages or promote products/services, curate social media contents or guest posts. A brand can also get their employees to become their influencers.

“Somehow “giving” is the best way to communicate with your audience, in a way it helps to strengthen their confidence and trust in your brand. Some people are searching for the information rather than paying attention to your product/service on social media, hence it is important to engage with them actively,” said Ms Yan.

Ms. Yan evoking one’s emotion is the best way to garner the social media attention on your brand. Emotional elements are typically being used in videos for example, without selling directly instead providing instructional value related to the company’s product or service.

The speaker also shared six checklists on how to curate strategic and effective digital PR. They are – the need to set objectives, identify your target audience, understand your target audience, leverage on data and intelligence, set feasible deliverables and prepare to revisit your plan.

During the first session of the programme, the speaker emphasised on the importance of understanding traditional PR and Digital Marketing, the importance of adopting both of them, and how to make utilise the online tools to help them achieve their strategies.

Photo session with Ms Yan.


During the second session in the afternoon Puan Liz Kamaruddin, Adjunct Professor and Managing Director of FTI Consulting Malaysia shared her experience in managing the crisis in Digital PR.

Participants were told to be mindful of the time spent to respond to any crisis, what would you say to the public, who are your stakeholders, and tone that should be used in their PR campaign.

She said: “There are many factors that could trigger a risk to your organization and it can impact you as individuals or the organization as a whole. The rise of social media, cyberattack, political consciousness, investor activism and stakeholder activism are contributing to making reputational value more critical than ever.

“Once a crisis has occurred even if you manage to solve it, it might still create a vicious cycle that carries serious impact for long term business. We can put PROTON as an example, even when they launched a new car, people are still asking and concerned about their window’s problem, even though the problem occurred 30 years back.” Said Puan Liz.

Practice is important, you need to do it often, so that you can be prepared- Puan Liz

Liz Kamaruddin told the participants that once a crisis occurs the first step that must be taken is to communicate internally, do much speculation and get more questions within a team. Advise your stakeholders to avoid speculating, provide answers to external audiences, but only upon checking with the communication team. Your speed and accuracy in responding are critical during a crisis but the best practice is to appoint a maximum of two crisis management teams in the chain of command. They can react as an internal and external communication team.

According to Liz Kamaruddin the biggest challenge for the communication team is to identify the right spokesperson on behalf of the organization and to ensure that the spokesperson relies on the statement prepared by the internal communication teams, which is the main source of information. An organisation is doomed to fail in managing their crisis if their spokesperson could not convey the statement in full emotions and credibility.

“Go to company policy if you don’t know who the best person to be your spokesperson is. Use simple words and please avoid technical words or jargon in your statement, so that the public can understand easily, use laid words,”advice Puan Liz.

Lastly, she stressed that the spokesperson must take control of his or her story and it’s okay to say sorry quickly and your apology will be better accepted, avoid lying or hiding anything.

Best practice in crisis management: always review and update regularly your plan and preparation, attend media training and refer to your senior officer.
Ms Fara from TM asked how PR needs to react on the social media if crisis occur involving the organization.
Encik Amin from PETRONAS asked a question regarding the role of a spokesperson in a crisis.

Before winding up her session, Puan Liza give extra tips to new PR personnels – “just hang in there, do not flirt but focus on your task as public affairs or corporate communication, always sharpen your skills and learn from your senior on how to handle crisis even if they are not expert in it, read a lot of books, go training, understand your organization and, think matter to your social and organization.”

Thank you Puan Liza!


“As PR practitioners, you need to act fast if a crisis arises, and that is why we need to be prepared. You need to be strategic, quick, unique, agile, resourceful and have empathy”, explained Mr Jaffri Amin, ASIA-PACIFIC Chair, Global Alliance for PR & Communication Management.

He said: “A good strategy is the best when you talk with different generations especially the youngest as your stakeholder, able to learn and adapt all media social platform to build networking with them. Then quickly react with details with your strategic planning and used it correctly. Used your education and experience it will lead you to be unique to get media attention. Due to pandemic a position of PR is multitask and agile is a key factor to survive.

“A good PR need good resourceful and always keeps relationship on going between your vendors, supplier, customers or media to get more data and more information. Lastly, empathy or soft spot is important element to help others because sometime in somewhere we need to use our expertise to help others.”

Mr. Jaffri or Uncle Jaff advice PR to always Re- thinks, Re– skill and Up- Skill.

“Your strategic planning is success by being: A – awesomeness to your customer and stakeholder with B- budgeting, need C- communicate effectively, communicate content and community networking, move fast using D- Digital and the successful story based on how much you create your E- engagement”,  Uncle Jaff concluded at the end of his session.

Speaker advices that PR need to learn their target stakeholder behavior based on their personality and how to react to them.

“Digital PR is about the engagement and storytelling” – stress Ms Anne, the next speaker of the programme.

Nowadays, all information easy to get in many channels including the fake news and people listen to social media.

By using the MKN as case studies she found out that MKN had managed Covid-19 crisis successful in first phase last year.

She noticed that MKN initially was successful in creating positive engagement with target audience, managed and communicate message with live daily up-dates to show the transparency and built public confidence, managed fake news immediately within 1-2 days, using TV/Online Channels as Digital PR Channels to deliver messages, used info graphic as presentation, used polls to hear and understand public opinion and created empathy thru motivation and engagement that MKN had reached out. Those are essential digital PR Elements Post Pandemic successful managed by MKN.

Fake news need to manage immediately by PR Team.

Ms Anne shared that in order to success managed crisis in digital area, both traditional and digital PR need to combine to fight the crisis.

She told the participants: “As PR practitioner, you need to listen to what trending on social media, always built engagement with your end target audience. Polls can be used as a method to understand your stakeholder, by giving simple question to attract communication with them. Polls also can be used to discussed and heard your stakeholder before strategic planning is prepared.

“Press release is a must to issues statement or news release and based on the data taken from polls also can be used in your holding statement.”

Ms Anne said that “It’s all about content or story telling – engagement – speeding that must be applied in new normal PR mechanism”.

Group photo with Uncle Jaff and Ms Anne.


Meanwhile during a forum organized in conjunction with the Digital Public Relations Programme a number of speakers urged government spokesperson to buck up as during the pandemic Covid-19, they did not perform well to convey important government messages.

They pointed that during the pandemic, the biggest communication disruption lies with the authority. It was suggested that government spokesperson need to be trained and educated so that they are better prepared should a crisis occur.

 Speakers of the forum were: Tuan Syed Mohammed Idid bin Syed Ahmad Idid, Head of Strategic Stakeholder Engagement of PLUS Malaysia Berhad; Mr. Andy See Teong Leng, Principal Partner & Managing Director of Perspective Strategies who is also the President of the Public Relations and Communications Association of Malaysia (PRCA Malaysia); Puan Noor Azila Ahmad, Head of Communications and Advocacy of MyCC; Dato’ Sri Ibrahim Abdul Rahman, President of Institute of Public Relations Malaysia (IPRM); Mr. Vijayaratnam Tharumartnam, Director of Group Communications of Proton Holdings Berhad and Datuk Ahiruddin Attan or Rocky, Executive Director of Vibes.

Some of the important points raised by them during the discussion are as follows:

Tuan Syed Idid told the participants of the forum that the design of connection has changed but the core of relationship is still the same. He agreed that content with empathy or humanity is more powerful based on impact measurement via survey, customer satisfaction, advocacy plan and the reaction or support given by your end user.
“Content is king, people do co-creation content in multi-platform, multi-channel and multi-people to communicate during the pandemic. Leadership and communications must go hand-to-hand to relay the message with correct narrative to set the level of credibility. People need to change due to changes of digital landscape”, said Mr. Andy.
Puan Azila pointed out that “We change because it was a demand and all is related to the social media platform. We need to create more engagement by improvising our channels to be more interactive and impactful for our users”.
“Disruption is a transformational change and we need to embrace the changes. Public relations principles remain the same but we can adapt new methodology and strategies. People are connected with technology, combination of traditional PR and new media is a must to convey the information with a good content to raise public confidence”, Dato’ Sri Ibrahim.
Mr. Vijay said that there are 3 rules of public speaking – stand up so you can be seen, speak up so you can be heard and shout up so you can be appreciated. People need to nail themselves with digital platform, people need to change their attitude, public relations practitioners need to deal with mindset to reset and educating your management because digital space is transparency – nowhere to hide but speak the truth.
“It’s not about pandemic, it’s not about digitalization but it is the way how you handle this pandemic. The weak communication system affected the whole system if you failed to educate your bosses, motivate employee to be front liner of their organization and used social media. Content is king and public will judge by themselves”, advice Datuk Rocky.

As moderator of forum, Datuk Yong Soo Heong concluded that a crisis is an opportunity to combine our resourceful and talent; it may be useful to help the authority to get and react together for our lovely country.

“Based on the discussion, panelist agreed the importance of leadership, proper content and leading them to digital channel to targeted customer are useful tools in breaking through the communications disruption in today’s pandemic world”, said Datuk Yong.

100 participants took part in this Forum. The participants were also contributing to the forum with their data-findings and experiences.
Mr. Amerjit Singh from Jabatan Penerangan Malaysia agreed with long term relationship between the authority and the people and he reminded that there is no turning back to the old ways of doing thing due to transformation of digital public relations as echoed by all panelist.
Puan Kiranjit Kaur from UiTM also shared her thoughts about perspective of Digital Public Relations in Q & A Session.