Survey shows Pakatan ministers’ communication seen as variable

Citrine One’s crisis communications lead counsel Ivlynn Yap Cheng Theng shares the findings of its inaugural Strategic Communications Survey 2019 on February 26, 2019. — Picture courtesy of Citrine One
Citrine One’s crisis communications lead counsel Ivlynn Yap Cheng Theng shares the findings of its inaugural Strategic Communications Survey 2019 on February 26, 2019. — Picture courtesy of Citrine One

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — Words that most come to mind about the Pakatan Harapan ministers’ communication strategy include “inconsistent”, “confusing” and “U-turns”, a survey has revealed.

In its independent month-long survey, communications firm Citrine One Sdn Bhd had asked Malaysians to choose the words they would use to describe the government’s or ministers’ communication strategy. They were allowed to choose more than one description.

Out of the 319 who responded to this question, the top four words were “inconsistent” at 136 (42.6 per cent), “confusing” at 135 (42.3 per cent), “U-turns”at 90 (28.2 per cent) and “flip-flop” at 82 (25.7 per cent).

The next five were “convincing” at 71 (22.3 per cent), followed by “clear and concise” at 54 (16.9 per cent), “consistent” at 49 (15.4 per cent), “inaccurate” at 48 (15 per cent) and “accurate” at 47 (14.7 per cent).

The results of a survey question in Citrine One’s inaugural Strategic Communications Survey 2019. — Screen capture of survey report
The results of a survey question in Citrine One’s inaugural Strategic Communications Survey 2019. — Screen capture of survey report

Commenting on the findings, Citrine One managing partner and crisis communications lead counsel Ivlynn Yap stressed the importance of consistency in communications from ministers.

“Now in communications, it’s very important, consistency is one of the key elements that is very important or is a key principle to determine the credibility as well as your trustworthiness.

“Communications is a professional field, they cannot take communications lightly because it affects their credibility and trustworthiness in the eyes of the public. And being ministers, there are certain levels of communication standards that the public expects,” she told reporters at the briefing on the firm’s inaugural Strategic Communications Survey 2019 results.

Silver lining

The survey also indicated that a plurality of Malaysians still trust the ministers, with 43.6 per cent and 27 per cent ranking their trustworthiness in acting the best interests of Malaysians and fulfilling election promises as “fair” and “good”, and 4.1 per cent ranking them as “excellent”.

Those who viewed them as “bad” at 13.8 per cent and “don’t trust them at all” at 11.6 per cent were in the minority.

“The silver lining from this survey indicates the public still view the ministers of Pakatan Harapan government as fairly trustworthy,” Yap said in a statement, noting however that the figures of those who voted “good” at least than 30 per cent serves as a “cautionary note” for ministers to take note of.

The results of a survey question in Citrine One’s inaugural Strategic Communications Survey 2019. — Screen capture of survey report
The results of a survey question in Citrine One’s inaugural Strategic Communications Survey 2019. — Screen capture of survey report

Citrine One conducted the survey online with 321 respondents nationwide from January 22 to February 21 to gauge the public’s opinion on the fairly new ministers’ communications style and the effectiveness of their communication strategy. Respondents did not necessarily answer all the questions posed.

The respondents were mostly youths with the 18-30 year old age group forming 53.6 per cent, with the bulk of the 321 respondents from Selangor (31.2 per cent), Johor (19 per cent) and Kuala Lumpur (17.1 per cent).

Of the respondents, the majority were Malays (43.69 per cent), followed by Indians (34.6 per cent), Chinese (17.8 per cent) and those from other ethnic groups at four per cent. Over half or 56.4 per cent of the 321 respondents were female, with 43.6 per cent male.

Yap said the survey questions were sent out to about up to 150,000 respondents, but noted that the response rate could have been affected by the Chinese New Year festivities during the period and that the survey form was sent out again after the holiday season.

Yap told reporters that the survey was the 18-year-old public relations and crisis management agency’s own initiative, and that it was not commissioned by anyone.

This is the first of Citrine One’s surveys to highlight the importance of having effective communications strategy in Malaysia, including within government, companies or non-governmental organisations.

Yap said Citrine One intends to carry out quarterly surveys, with the next survey expected to be on the communication strategies of companies, and the following survey to be that of the communication strategies of political parties across the political divide.

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