The international backlash from last Monday’s hostage-taking tragedy may cause severe consequences to our tourism industry, as well as our BPO and overseas manpower deployment, according to a PR expert.
Charlie Agatep, reputation management guru and president of PR firm Agatep Associates, said “it takes years to build a good reputation but it takes only a moment in time to destroy that reputation. The massacre of Hong Kong tourists by a dismissed policeman has cast a black eye on the country’s image.”
“Repairing our damaged reputation will take time. The best way to make the world forget the hostage-taking crisis is to proclaim, in calibrated manner, our country’s positive virtues, but it is not yet time to go on the offensive. The crisis must first run its course. The pain must first settle down, the fresh wound must first dry up”, Agatep said.
“Crises, like the hostage-taking, are a fact of life. We can prevent them but no matter how vigilant we are, crises occur as certainly as death and taxes. How we react to a crisis is what’s important. It is the response that spells the difference in minimizing reputation damage”, he said.
It’s not only the international media which is putting the Philippines in a bad light. The internet has exploded with negative criticisms ranging from the incompetence of our policemen, to the failure of authorities to give in to the simple demand of the hostage-taker, to the perceived damage wrought by live television coverage. Even the smile on the face of President Aquino during the press conference did not escape the wrath of bloggers.
A quick check of top social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter showed the incident was one of the most discussed topics while the incident was happening last Monday. OFWs also posted they were experiencing some criticism by peers in their adapted countries due to the crisis. Among the most common postings were “I’m glad I didn’t vote for Penoy” and “I am ashamed to be a Filipino.”
“Reputaton is our country’s most strategic asset, You cannot put a price tag to It . Reputation attracts foreign investments, economic and political alliances, and tourist arrivals. We should now form a multisectoral task force to assess the extent of the reputation damage. The group will then formulate PR strategies and action programs to regain our good image and restore the trust and confidence of the foreign communities.” Agatelp said.