White Rabbit Chapel

7 Oct

The fifth group has decided to do on White Rabbit, one of Singapore’s most exciting dining destination since 2008. They are tapping into the expertise of architecutre professors from NUS and SUTD as well as historians. They will also be tracking down the former worshippers and pastors. The group will also be scouring books in the library and asking statutory boards like National Heritage Board for information.

“There will be a young and old contrast, through interviews and photos,” said Kenneth.

The final piece for the project would be a full length feature article where they would have video interviews and a profile of the building. What is of note is that they will be trying to engage readers through activities and user-generated content.

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Fullerton Hotel

7 Oct

The fourth group is featuring the Fullerton Hotel because of its architecutre and history. The group revealed that they would be looking into official information, news articles, reveiws and interviews. They are intending to go do some investigative journalism and question if the building has lost its original purpose.

Through their piece they would like to find out what Singaporeans feel about the hotel too and one of the question they are armed with is: Is the building a waste of space?

“Perhaps the building is nto selling anymore. Singaproe is developing so fast. Once an important piece of heritage is now typically seen as a clubbing and place of leisure,” said Angeli.

They are looking into using print, TV, radio and online mediums as a platform to showcase their news feature.

In their evaluation of their own topic, the group said that while the way of presenting this age old building is novel, they might however, face censorship and difficulties in assessing the place due to security reasons.

 

Old School

7 Oct

The third group has decided to do on the Old School, alittle known building in Singapore. Located at Mount Sophia, it was the former Methodist Girls School and was renovated to house galleries, art and design studios, offices and restaurants.

 They are going to present this through photo essays and interviews. What I like about their project is that they are going to attempt to answer or rather surface some pertinent questions such as what is going to happen to our arts culture should they remove this building.

Old Parliament House

7 Oct

 

The second group decided to do on the Arts House. I do not know much about that building and I dare say that not many Singaporeans know about it either. The group gave quite a comprehensive breakdown on how they would want to structure their multimedia presentation and that gives us a good picture of how it would turn out to be. Behind the Arts House lies a rich history and I believe that through their presentation they would bring much insights into that building that has seen us through time.

Ion Orchard

7 Oct

The first group decided to zoom in on one of the most iconic shopping centre in Singapore – Ion Orchard. I think that it would make a really interesting profile because thousands of people walk in and out of it but really, how much do we know about it. To Singaporeans and tourists alike, it could just mean a glitzy luxury mall but I believe that behind the mall lies stories waiting to be told. The architecture in itself is eyecatching as it does not take on the shape of a regular building.

Impact of Steve Jobs’ death on Singapore

7 Oct

The world lost a visionary,  a perfectionist and an inspiration yesterday. News of  Steve Jobs’ death rocked the world, both of ordinary people whose lives he has touched personally or those who have been faithfully using the products he so meticulously created during his lifetime. There was an outpouring of grief, with people paying tribute to the man whom they claim changed their lives and the face of technology immensely.

Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, has impacted millions of lives and changed the world in his own right. His impact is far reaching, and it is definitely felt here in Singapore where thousands of people use his products. Look around and you would be able to find at least one person using an Apple product, be it the ipad, iphone, Mac, or ipod. All these innovations are manifestations of Mr Jobs’ brilliance. According to a 2010 survey by mobile advertising firm AdMob, Singapore is home to 402, 922 iPhone users – 8.3% of the population.

Many Singaporeans may not know this man but his death still left a mark on many. Many expressed shock, sadness, and the tributes came in fast and furious all over social media and on the media. Mr Jobs’ death would not impact Singaporeans directly but the loss of this man would change the products that Apple churn out and this as a result, could shake people’s confidence in this brand. This is if Mr Jobs’ successor do not hold on to his values and vision. Whether this would happen, however, remains to be seen.

Cancellation of Halloween Horrors: A Public Relations Horror

22 Sep

By now, you should have already heard: there will be no horrors at the Night Safari come this Halloween.

The cancellation of the spook fest has been the talk of the town since the announcement was made last Tuesday. It sparked a furore both online and off.

It seems that everyone has something to say. The topics run the gamut from speculating why the event was abandoned to condemning the poor management of public relations of the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), the parent company of the Night Safari.

Netizens are up in arms over the sudden cancellation of Halloween Horrors and slammed the decision on blogs and social media. Offline, newspaper forum pages have been abuzz with viewpoints and opinions on this issue.

I am in no way affected by the cancellation and can only offer my views as a passive observer of the chain of events that unfurled over the last two weeks. I don’t celebrate Halloween (always thought it’s just another reason for adults to dress up in an attempt to hark back to their childhood days) and have never been a fan of these fright nights.

The last (and hopefully final) time I went through one was during my freshmen year. In fact, I went through two. Two fright nights in a span of two months – one for my faculty camp, and the other during hall orientation camp. Needless to say, I was terrified of the ‘ghosts’ and ‘spirits’ that jumped out at me along the dark corridor and I vividly remember telling myself that I am never going to let anyone put me through this anymore.

Still, this saga is of immense interest to me.

What immediately struck the communications student in me when I first got wind of this news was the appalling manner in which the company managed this whole issue.

Lessons from my Public Relations Writing class came flooding back as I read reports after reports about the controversy. I shall take the liberty to delve into some of these lessons.

Lesson #1: Be honest 

This is, what I believe, to be the root of all the heated public discussion. WRS seem to be hiding something behind their backs, given the abrupt turn of events. The private company, set up in 2000, cancelled the Halloween fest merely two weeks shy of the event. This was after 1000 tickets, which cost between $40 and $56 for adults, were sold. This was after 17 Singapore Polytechnic students spent the last seven months working on the event as part of their final-year project. And this, was after nearly $1 million had been pumped into the organisation of the event.

The reason for the sudden cancellation was due to “negative feedback from corporations, friends of the zoo, the public and the media, especially over the event’s relevance in relation to conservation”, said Ms Isabella Loh, WRS’ new chief executive.

It is a valid reason, granted, if the decision made to can this event was made long ago. Detractors have pointed out that if that really is the reason, then the show should go on for the last time this year. I cannot agree more. It shows a complete lack of strategic planning on the part of the management. Using this feeble excuse to justify their actions is puzzling and suspicious all at the same time.

If WRS is bold enough to make such a radical decision, then they should be daring enough to come clean with their real agenda.

Lesson #2: Never stay silent

It was reported in a story published on Monday in The New Paper that since releasing a statement, WRS has “decided not to answer further queries”. Staying silent is one of the worst thing an organisation or an individual should do when thrust into the media and public spotlight. Not coming clean with the truth is bad enough, but staying silent is worse. Keeping mum would do nothing to quell speculations and would only create the impression that the organisation is indifferent to the storm that is brewing in the public sphere. It shows a complete lack of respect to what the general public thinks. Eventually, the public backlash may even translate to poor business in future as the level of trust in the company goes downhill.

Lesson #3: Be consistent

There is disparity in WRS’ public statements. Ms Isabella Loh first attributed the cancellation of Halloween Horrors to the need for “more family-bonding and wholesome activities”. To support her point, she drew reference to President Tony Tan’s comments at a separate event at the zoo three weeks ago.

Dr Tan had said then: “Such family bonding, I believe, is very important for Singapore because we need to create informal occasions where families, children can bond with their parents and grandparents.”

Ms Loh subsequently apologised to Dr Tan for taking his comments out of context and in the process implicated him in this issue.

A few days later, she explained that the decision to abandon the fright night was because stakeholders feel that the Halloween fest has little to do with conservation. Yet a few days later, she revealed that after a visit to the Halloween Horrors programme, she felt “uncomfortable” and “upset” because it was “too scary”, suggesting that her personal views and beliefs were reasons for the cancellation.

This incongruence simply reflects poor corporate messaging. It would have worked better had WRS stated all the reasons from the very beginning. The varied accounts confuse the public and as mentioned, fuels speculations that they have something to hide.

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If anything, the horror of these events lie not in the fright night itself but in the mismanagement of the corporate communications team of the WRS. It is shocking and  horrifying to see an established organisation make such grave mistakes when the stakes are so high.

The good news for WRS is that this saga would undoubtedly tide over in no time. People will move on, in pursuit of the next scandal. But this incident will not be forgotten completely. The impact of such controversy is far-reaching. If WRS continues to clamp up and refuse to get down to the crux of this issue, they just have to live with the consequences of a tarnished reputation that will surely haunt them for a long time to come.