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PR Disaster from Staff Behaviour


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PR Disaster from Staff Behaviour

  1. 1. 14 home thesundaytimes February 19, 2012Nightmare after D&D nightsMany firms hold theme parties, but idea of a lark can bite back. If a theme party is to be part of a D&D, the compa-with some bordering on the ny’s values, and common sense, should be the orderoutrageous these days, there’s of the day, experts said.always the danger of a PR disaster Themes are now a regular feature at these events, and there are even cash prizes for those with the best costumes, event organisers said.Yen Feng Mostly held in hotel ballrooms and nightclubs, many D&Ds are now all-out parties, complete withD&D Night. It is that one night in the year when bosses costumes, stage lights and entertainers, costing thou-and staff mingle freely and even let their hair down. sands of dollars. These annual staff Dinner & Dance (D&D) events Ms Doris Tan, a consultant at Rapture Events, saidare held to thank employees for their hard work. she organised a company party two years ago. Its Once upon a time, such gatherings might have been theme was Cross-Dressers Night.stuffy sit-down dinners. There would be the usual “Men came as women, women came as men. Itdrunks. But their red faces would have cleared by the PHOTOS: FACEBOOK, TNP READER went great. Every year, it gets more and more outra-next day. UOB staff (left) were rapped for being insensitive in a multiracial society after they posted on Facebook photos of geous.” These days though, many D&Ds are theme parties – themselves with painted black faces for their Bollywood-themed party. Former SMRT CEO Saw Phaik Hwa was derided But the bigger, more established companies tendbased on ideas that range from simple to outrageous, when photos of her at the company’s D&D, dressed as Cleopatra and carried on a throne by bare-chested men, surfaced. to “play it safe” when it comes to their D&Ds, said Mrlike getting staff to turn up as cross-dressers. Chris Yeo, marketing director of Absolute Events Con- That’s when the chance of a public relations disaster themselves with painted black faces for their Bolly- tions that stranded thousands of commuters. sultancy.can trip up a company’s image, and cause red faces at wood-themed party. Companies, human resource executives and public Recent themes by KFC Singapore, for example, in-the top. A couple of months earlier, former SMRT chief execu- relations consultants contacted by The Sunday Times cluded Fright Night and Uniform Affair – where the Just last weekend, staff of the United Overseas Bank tive Saw Phaik Hwa was derided when photos of her at said D&Ds are a good way to let employees bond and staff attended the D&Ds dressed as zombies, nurses(UOB) were rapped by netizens for acting insensitively the company’s D&D, dressed as Cleopatra and carried unwind. and the a multiracial society. on a throne by bare-chested men, were leaked online. But in today’s Facebook and Web-enabled, cam- Mr James Friel, chief operating officer of Courts The bank’s staff had posted on Facebook photos of SMRT was at the time being blamed for train disrup- era-equipped smartphone world, what is someone’s Singapore, did not specify his company’s D&D themes but described them as set “around good, clean, family fun”. Last year, the theme of Sony Electronics Asia’s Universal rule D&D was Shanghai Grand – a nod to the style of the “Don’t do 1920s. comedy that Previous themes includ- makes fun of ed Magic Arabian Nights people. It’s and Hollywood Las Vegas. Companies contacted hard for me to said they had no specific think of a guidelines for D&Ds, but guideline. said employees were expect- Maybe... ed to adhere to their code employees, of conduct. “We take the issue of so- please don’t be cial diversity seriously,” completely said Mr Kelvin Ong, Sony’s stupid.” recreation committee chair- MR PHILLIP RASKIN, man. managing consultant of Such matters are inevita- Text100, a PR firm, who says plain common sense ble in a globalised world, can avert embarrassment said Ms Alysson Do, a hu- man resource consultant at Buddy Media, a social media marketing firm. “As we globalise, companies do have to ensure that they are culturally sensitive and inclusive. “Employees, too, need to ensure that one night of fun doesn’t cost them their job or future prospects.” Public relations experts described today’s annual corporate D&D as a tricky balancing act – given the prevalent use of social media today. Workers are less afraid of being outrageous when it comes to dressing up for their D&Ds, said Ms Cho Pei Lin, managing director of Asia PR Werkz, a PR firm. “An organising committee will need to put in more thought, be more careful, when planning these parties,” she added. Mr Andrew Chow, a social media strategist, sug- gested companies discuss “house rules” before the event. “Nothing funny to do with race or religion – these are known out-of-bounds markers,” he said. Mr Phillip Raskin, managing consultant of Text100, a PR firm, said that with or without rules, plain common sense can avert embarrassment. “Don’t do comedy that makes fun of people,” he said, adding: “It’s hard for me to think of a guideline. Maybe... employees, please don’t be completely stu- pid.” Milk CATS Recruit for the freshest collection of jobs every day! CLA/AUG09/g