Does it stop you in your tracks? Is it causing a massive chatter or buzz everywhere?

Social listening is, in fact, an indispensable part of public relations. As publicists, our job is not only to create buzz but also to analyse current issues and ‘hot’ topics because capitalising on the latest trends can either go stupendously well or ridiculously awry.

As we say ta-ta to 2017, here is a selection of things that got tongues wagging in Singapore and Malaysia over the past 12 months.

Nasi Lemak

Credit: Channel NewsAsia

There has always been a somewhat friendly competition between the Malaysians and Singaporeans on whose rendition of the local dishes is better. While most of us can concede that taste is subjective, the mere mention of national dishes or local food would fan the flames of patriotism in the hearts of many. Therefore, it did not come as a surprise when the perfectly-timed launch of McDonald Singapore’s Nasi Lemak burger generated much buzz in the two neighbouring countries. According to a data released by Meltwater, the campaign achieved the highest social media buzz in the build up to national day seeing a surge in media conversation and a demand for the burger island-wide. In addition, this Nasi Lemak fever also created opportunities for food businesses and even helped Miss Universe Malaysia 2017, Samantha Katie James and her Brian Khoo dress get quite a few media exposures prior to the finals in November.

Nonetheless, be warned that national pride and food can be a lethal publicity combination, especially in a multi-ethnic region. Lest we forget Maki-san’s PR boo-boo with their Maki-Kita rice rolls.

Despacito

Credits: YouTube

The song that sneakily made its way into cafes, clubs, malls, Zumba classes and even our favourite prata joints. According to Google, Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito” is the second most watched music video on Youtube in Singapore for the year, falling only behind Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You”.With more than 4.5 billion views on Youtube and being ranked #1 on Spotify as the most streamed songs worldwide, it is indeed a track to be reckoned with. So much so that it has been banned on Malaysian state radios and television, a situation which once again put the country on the map. Whether one is still protesting the sexually-suggestive lyrics or if one would rather salsa to its infectious rhythm, we can not deny that the song has made history in 2017.

SMRT

Credits: Today Online

While Singapore has been known to have a reliable and robust public transport system, it is no wonder 2017 has been a disappointing year for SMRT.

SMRT’s reputation suffered the greatest hit this year, and they could easily be title contender for the unluckiest company of 2017. The oh-so familiar train breakdowns and signal faults, the flooding of the tunnel at Bishan MRT, and the collision of two trains at Joo Koon are just some incidents that plummeted SMRT’s reputation.

Let’s hope that Singaporeans won’t be talking about SMRT or trains that often in 2018.

Read about managing social media here.

Runs

Credits: Mothership

Singapore saw a packed race schedule this year. While some were interesting and successful, one such run which started out for a good cause saw its success go downhill this year. For example, YOLO Run 2017, that was badly planned and coordinated, required the organizers to issue a public apology.

On the other hand, the Durian Charity Run which invited participants to be creative about how they wanted their durians to be carried during the run, saw all 388 slots being filled up less than a week after the event was announced. Sounded like a crazy idea at first, but they made it work.

What other innovative runs can we expect to see next year?

Halimah Yacob

Credits: AsiaOne

Singapore welcomed its first female President this year, perhaps marking the start of a new era to the country. Despite the controversies surrounding the election process and her decision to remain in her former residence, a.k.a Yis-tana, it inspired and reassured women around the world that there’s no reason females can’t rise to the top, paving the way for gender equality in Singapore. #girlpower

2017 has indeed been nothing short of learning opportunities for the public relations industry. Knowing how to navigate your communications plan around these issues will help to deliver your intended message to the right people at the right time.

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