Home: Motoring > Automobile hot topic Q&A (Ep.184)

Lessons of “Gangsterdom PR” (Part 1)

From:Internet Info Agency 2018-11-02 18:19:38

Author:He Lun, IIA’s Co-Chief Content Officer, Deputy Head of IIA Academy of Auto

Automobile hot topic Q&A (Ep.184)

The “Gangsterdom PR” incident that has quaked the auto industry continues to attract attention. October 29th, eight Chinese car companies jointly founded the “China Auto Industry Self-discipline Alliance” to deal with “malicious PR and media”. Members include Great Wall Motor, Chery, BYD, Dongfeng Fengshen, Brilliance Auto, Landwind, Borgward and Soueast Motor, but excluded Geely. On the same day, Hangzhou, Zhejiang police issued a police report saying that after receiving the report on October 23, 2018, the police had arrested the suspect Ning on the next day, who fabricated and spread rumors and false information online in the name of "Geely’s PR Manager" and " Geely Automobile PR Chat Group 5". According to the Economic Observer, Landwind is one of the members of the "China Auto Industry Self-discipline Alliance", one of its senior executives posted a moment on his private Wechat to once again pointed out that “some companies are the devil rebuking sin”. This incident clearly can be selected into the top ten incidents of the auto industry in 2018. From the perspective of public relations in auto companies, some relevant have a lot of controversy in this incident, which will leave lessons for the industry to learn from in the future.

Q: Whether Geely is defaming others or being smashed by himself is the focus of controversy in this incident. The police have caught the suspect but did not say what his motives for spreading rumors and false information were. Is it because of personal wishes or instigated by someone? What’s your comment?

A: The police only made a preliminary report on the case. The questions you raised are more complicated. It takes a certain amount of time to do a lot of analysis, investigations and evidence taking to make the final conclusion. Of course, unless someone immediately claims responsibility for the matter.

Great Wall Motor also reported the case to the Baoding police. But after all, the Hangzhou police arrested the suspect first, it would not be appropriate for the Baoding police to intervene into. With the in-depth investigation of the case followed by the Hangzhou police, more information will be disclosed, I believe.

Q: Seeing from that widely spread screenshot of WeChat, the suspect is quite like a “professional Internet troll”. It is said that the so-called "Internet Troll field" is vague, but still many companies are deeply involved in. What is the situation?

A: Simply speaking, some enterprises (mainly refers to the marketing department or the PR department) do not personally hire the Internet trolls but acquiesce to the PR company they hired to. Some companies hire, but their leaders are not aware of it. Other companies only ask “white Internet trolls” to praise themselves instead of vilifying or defaming competitors, etc. I can only say that everything is possible. After all, these Internet trolls are so-called "professional" and have formed a so-called “business model” and “complex interest chain, industrial chain”, and what’s worse, they have no bottom line. (refer to Jinan University - "Internet Gangsterdom PR" Research Report, Chinese name is《暨南大学——“网络黑公关”研究报告》)

Q: Yang Xueliang, vice president of Geely, responsible for PR affairs, tends to regard that the incident was fabricated by an individual. He said on Weibo, which is similar to Twitter: "This WeChat content is sent out at 8:31, and the screenshot is taken at 8:31. The green part is screenshotted by the Wechat owner. It is obviously deliberately to defame Geely". What’s your comment?

A: Maybe not. You can see that the title of this screenshot goes " Geely Automobile PR Chat Group 5 (32)". This can be considered as it is one of several related groups. The group owner sent a message to the "Group 5" and then forward it to other groups. This is a normal operation, and by the way, he or she can remind all the groups that the task distribution standard is the same. It's just that someone in the other group has exposed the screenshot for some reason. This kind of breaking news may be due to internal contradictions, or may be so-called spies, or even may be the result of someone cannot bear this situation. It is common in all sectors.

So, what on earth is going on with that screenshot may be still undecided.

Q: Some said that hiring Internet trolls is common. The problem is that, among the car companies involved in this incident, who has not hired Internet trolls?

A: There is an article in the Economic Observer, which tells the story of the reporter spied for the Internet trolls. The story mentioned that those Internet trolls are hired by “most of the brands”. Several companies involved in this incident said that they are victims. But who dares to say that they have never hired those Internet trolls?

But, as to the internal remarks made by Geely Automobile Chairman Li Shufu and the question he raised (please refer to the article “Chairman's internal remarks and Lame Geely PR”) cannot be regarded as a professional PR remark or question. As chairman of a big enterprise, he has so many important strategic affairs to deal with. So, his remarks, actually, did not answer whether Geely had hired Internet trolls or not and whether those Internet trolls were out of control or not.

For the PR department of a company, hiring Internet trolls is common. If not hiring, the only result for them is that they will be defamed and smashed online by those Internet trolls hired by their competitors day by day. No one dare to shoulder the responsibility of ignoring it when their company is being defamed. So, the problem can be regarded as who manage the Internet trolls better, and whose Internet trolls are more skillful and professional.

However, in any case, this incident can be regarded as a serious lesson for the industry: He who plays with fire gets burned. If the “Group 5” really existed, and no matter who sit behind the curtain, when one person reveals the information, everyone will suffer, and it will also hurt the interest of customer, causing huge losses to the reputation of the company. There were at least five groups with over a hundred people been involved in this time, if the number of people had exceeded a thousand, it might have caused a bigger loss.

Q: The establishment of the "China Auto Industry Self-discipline Alliance" gives people the feeling that it is aimed at Geely. What’s your comment?

A: That will be a long story, maybe we can talk about next time.

Editor:He Lun