When I started the last school year (2015-2016) as an international freshman, little did I know that five months later, I would have to deal with a major potential media crisis on behalf of a global competition.

I was working as a Public Relations (PR) Director for VietChallenge, the first global business competition for Vietnamese entrepreneurs. The April’s final round at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) featured six finalists from Japan, Vietnam and the United States. Our guests of honor included Vietnam Permanent Mission to the United Nations, former Director Executive of Wall Street Journal, several senior executives of Duane Morris, State Street, AOL, and so on.

None of the guests knew about the crisis VietChallenge went through two months ago. Only days after I was promoted to the position of PR Director, one team accused us of favoring another team and threatened to make it viral. This team owned a 70,000-follower Facebook page while we had merely 5,000 followers back then and this was the first time we organized VietChallenge. They could easily crush us in a social media battle. Here came my first major task: by any mean, do not let them start the fight.

That media crisis was precipitated in the Audience Choice Round, in which the semi-final teams had to promote themselves to get the highest number of Facebook shares and likes on the photo featuring their idea. Before this round started, I had already informed the semi-final teams and the public about the rules. After two days of the Audience Choice’s Round, the Sugoi team doubted that another team, IM Venture, was cheating and that VietChallenge favored IM Venture by deliberately ignoring the act. Instead of contacting VietChallenge, Sugoi immediately spammed our Facebook page with a video “How did IM VENTURE win?” even though there were still seven days left before the winner was determined. The video hinted that VietChallenge favored IM Venture, while the only evidence they showed was the list of audiences who shared and liked IM Venture’s photo.

I made an attempt to discuss directly with Sugoi in hope that we could solve it by cohesion, concord and peace. Not only they were not willing to listen, but they also spammed on other 21 teams’ photos with the same content. For a moment, I thought all hell must break loose and nothing could stop their steaming heads.” I could delete their comments on our page but they had their own popular page. If the media sensed something and stepped in, the damage would never be undone.

However, … (Cont.)

Photo: Internet and VietChallenge 🙂


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