Week 11:Critique of Issue/Crisis Management, application in managing Feiyue’s Branding

Chia and Synnott devote a whole chapter in their book to PR with respect to Issues and Crises. In summary, the chapter how certain trends, events, concerns, both plausible and actual, have an impact on an organisation and its relationship with publics. Chia and Synnott note that PR practitioners cannot afford to ignore such facts, both online and offline, as they have the potential to devastate an organisation. They prescribe that an organisation and its PR practitioners must be constantly proactively looking out for such potential issues, and risks thereof contained. Only then can messages about the organisation in a public arena is controlled.

My personal response is that I have no delusions as to how far public relations can address issues and crises. I wholly disagree with the statement that “the most important issue faced by public relations professionals is maintaining control of the message in the public arena”. I do not feel that PR practitioners should aim to, or believe they can, control public opinion. This is clearly an exaggeration in that PR firms can only meet their publics halfway, they cannot hypodermically inject messages into their audiences. A healthy dose of skepticism towards the pro-media-relations attitude evidently so prevalent in the academy is clearly necessary. I do not believe that many PR practitioners who honestly believe they have “control” over public’s construction of meaning are either  incredibly skilled(in the case of which they actually have control) or simply overestimating themselves. Perhaps it is a mix of the two, with a kernel of truth in the “skilled” aspect.

Nonetheless, this otherwise minor over-stretching of PR potency should not detract from the otherwise r0bustness of their proposals. It is undeniable that PR practitioners should, at the very least, be in tune with issues that have gained currency amongst their publics. This necessitates exposing oneself to plenty of media, both new and old, and potentially placing eyes and ears where the public receive anything related to the brand. Furthermore, the proactive approach to highlighting plausible issues and potential crises are definitely part and parcel of the preventive measure an organisation has to embark on. That is, unless the organisation itself is so robust as to not need these. But such organisations are few and far between.

Further, in the spirit of this newfound enlightenment, allow me to describe a few issues that have cropped up with Feiyue and the possible cause of action I am considering.

Firstly, one big problem/issue is that proponents of the Chinese Feiyue have been unfavourably passing remarks that the French brand is inferior. Left unchecked, such rhetoric may eventually erode the French brand’s entrance into other parts of the world. Ironically, in Asia, the negative image of the Chinese Feiyue has actually reversed the credibility of such remarks. Nonetheless, it would be prudent to address these claims. The strategy of issue management, is to enlighten the consumers and other publics of the differences between the two different Feiyues, and therefore counter this bad press.

The second issue is that of other rising Chinese sneaker brands which are going international. These are definitely conpetitors, although each one’s brand image is slightly different. These include Ospop and Warrior, and there might be others that are attempting to break into the Singaporean scene and abroad. While this isn’t an “issue” in that it doesn’t affect the organisation in a direct, tangible, way, the target public of the Pr campaign might have problems distinguishing between these different brands. Therefore, this is also an issue that needs to be addressed. The strategy I would recommend is to break into as many markets as safely possible(without overexpending and running into debts), and to offer distinctive products which are as difficult to replicate in design. As of present moment, it is hard to say whether or not these will eventually be a serious issue warranting more direct efforts in distinguishing brands. Definitely something to keep-in-view.

The last issue I have detected is the ease of repeatability of Feiyue’s designs and products. Being somewhat simple canvas sneakers, it is easy for imitations to be produced. This is especially so since some of the designs are monochrome and without any stylisation.

It's called Feiyue Plain. No exagerration there, Patrice...

Given a certain country’s propensity to imitate anything from Gucci handbags to chicken eggs, I would most certainly not be surprised if imitations bearing Feiyue’s name show up if Feiyue becomes a big fashion label. Fortunately, most of the more recent models have done well to feature more complicated designs. As a PR practitioner, I would definitely recommend the strategy of adding more complicated products, with highly sophisticated printing processes and designs. This would make it harder for imitations to come close to the original, allowing publics to easily distinguish between the two. Chia and Synnott actually describe the proliferation of copycats as a severe psychological crisis rather than a mere issue. It is therefore essential to take preventive measures, and keep the issue in view in the event that a certain country’s copycats manage to bypass all of these barriers and produce convincing copycats.

Thus concludes my findings on the issues that Feiyue faces and may face..


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