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Media Audit: Sultan Brunei’s Case

Executive Summary

Everybody has probably heard about these so-called 'fake news' that have supplanted the daily news cycle and taken over the US elections. From Perse and Lambe (2016) perspective, companies are now also fighting counterfeit news. As a public relations professional, everyone is probably at best curious and worst scared about what to do if his/her organisation has a fake news base. Professor of Public Relations, professor of Hofstra University and writer to Bloomberg, Dr Kara Alaimo, advises businesses on fake news handling. Sultan of Brunei was in 2014 accused of purchasing New Plaza Hotel and two more hotels with immoral intentions of promoting homosexuality and adultery. This media publicity raised so many issues that resulted in legal force taking part and later found that media had exaggerated the information, and in the process, destroying the reputation of the Sultan and his company. The best way to handle media PR is to take necessary measures before participating in any public transaction.

In the corporate world, the saying, "any publicity is good publicity" does not always apply as being true. Public relations issues can be the source of all sorts of issues for a business, including reduced profits and harm to the brand. As a practitioner of public relations, we assume false news as to when a reporter cannot hear the truth. It is the case if someone had written something wrong that I could pick up the phone to call the writer or the author (Wright & Hope, 2018). Also, if somebody could show another that what he wrote is incorrect, then he/she wants to clear the record for journalists with a concern of clearing his/her reputation. It is widely known that journalists may make a mistake at times. There is no falsified news. Fake news is when a writer or blogger makes claims or does not listen to facts. This paper purposes to discuss how media publicity has affected the PR of people and businesses as well as suggesting the necessary recommendations for improving PR. Sultan Brunei’s case of acquiring the New Plaza Hotel and two others has been used.

Media Coverage List

Craig, K., Saurabh, C. & Lingling, W. (Aug 16, 2014). Brunei bids for New York’s Plaza Hotel. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from: https://www.wsj.com/articles/sultan-of-brunei- goes-shopping-for-hotels-in-new-york-and-london-1408226335

Human Rights Campaign Press. (September 9, 2014). Press releases: Sultan of Brunei back at the table to buy Plaza Hotel. HRC press. Retrieved from: https://www.hrc.org/press/sultan- of-brunei-back-at-table-to-buy-plaza-hotel

THR Staff (August 16, 2014). Sultan of Brunei reportedly aims to acquire Plaza Hotel in New York. The Hollywood Reporter Press. Retrieved from: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/sultan-brunei-reportedly-aims-acquire-725910

Luxury Travel Advisor. (August 19, 2014). Will Brunei’s Sultan buy New York’s Plaza Hotel? Questex LLC. Retrieved from: https://www.luxurytraveladvisor.com/will-brunei-s-sultan- buy-new-york-s-plaza-hotel

Media Coverage Report

Wall Street Journal (Over 400,000 Readers)

"The purchase of Grosvenor House in London or the Plaza and Dream Downtown Hotels, nor His Majesty, the Brunei Investment Agency nor the government of Brunei, have participated in any way." penned a spokesperson at Bell Pottinger, on moral grounds of the Sultan of Brunei. There may soon be sweeping new ownership for some of the most iconic landmarks in New York. The Washington post notes that Sultan Brunei Bolkiah, together with the London Grosvenor House and Dream Hotel in the Lower Manhattan, has promised to pay approximately $2 billion for the New York Plaza Hotel purchase. According to Craig, Saurabh, and Lingling (2014), the report cites the source of the leaks as an investment fund associated with Brunei and states that the bid is one of the "a few" potential buyers. Over the last few months, the Sultan has been met by a wave of critiques of his nation's radical new penal code, which came into force on 22 April. The Dorchester Group, a big hotel operator owned by Brunei in the US has assets including Hotel Bel-Air and Hotel Beverly Hills and is subject to numerous protests as a reply to the press.

THR News (87,000 Viewers)

The Sultan from Brunei is rumoured to have seen another possession, whose characteristics in the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Dorchester Collections have undergone a Hollywood boycott: the New York Plaza Hotel. Southeast Asia chief has been selected to buy Sahara India Pariwar's landmark luxury hotel in Manhattan, according to the UK Times of London. Together with the Dream Hotel in New York, the company purchased the hotel in 2012. The Hollywood reporter says the Company "knows little" about the acquisition strategies in the Dorchester Collection.

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Press (130,000 Viewers)

WASHINGTON – New reports claiming that the Sultan of Brunei will continue buying a hotel in Plaza have repeated this incitement to constitution-makers, advocates and followers for rights of women, and LGBT people in New York today as a result of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America's biggest institution for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender human rights in the US. HRC's August statement criticised the $2 billion bid the Sultan had got for the New York Plaza Hotel and Dream Downtown Hotel and several media reports indicated that the Sultan was going to face strong resistance in New York. Shortly afterward, his leaders made a categorical rejection of what others saw. According to Reuters, one Sultan spokesperson said, "The Sahara Group Chairman, S.Ganesh, was not involved in any way either His Majesty, the Brunei Income Agency and the Brunei government, buy the Grosvenor Home in London or the Plaza and Dream City Hotel in New York.

"The global community has overwhelmingly criticised Brunei's decision. The Commission on Human Rights of the United Nations criticised the changes to Brunei's penal code in April, claiming that it was "profoundly concerned" and that "torment or other brutality, inhumanity or degradation" was regarded to be international penalty (Toledano & Avidar, 2016). "Brunei's sultan should start the execution of women and LGBT people eventually, and the US income stream, which is flowing back to his administration from his hotels, must stop," Cobb said.

Luxury Travel Advisor (Over 100,000 Readers)

The Sultan of Brunei is performing during one of the most well-known hotels in the world, people know the subject. The people claimed that the Sultan, together with its luxury hotel operator, the Dorchester Collection, has been scrutinised for tough new legislation passed in the South- Islamic country, a Brunei- capital investment vehicle that offers to acquire a New York Plaza Hotel and Grosvenor House and a Dream Hotel. The rules, who require the execution of homosexuals and fornicators by stoning, have prompted public calls in the US for the company to sell its land.

Nevertheless, the sultan has purchased the Plaza and other two hotels and does not plan to leave the entertainment company or even minimize its profile during the scandal. Christopher Cowdray, Chief Executive Officer of Dorchester, London, said in May that Brunei law does not apply in the hotels of the group. "The set of Dorchester complies with the laws of the country we work in," he said. Brunei's bid is a leading candidate for the three businesses owned by the Indian Sahara Group, an individual with knowledge of the situation, among a couple of potential purchasers, including Middle East public funds.

Media Coverage Implication

The offer to buy the hotels comes through a comprehensive general strike of most of the other characteristics of the Sultan in the wake of his recent ruling on the implementation in his nation of Islamic or Sharia rules. The new legislation allows for penalties for a number of crimes ranging from homosexual activity to fornication and abortion, such as child violence, amputees, and deaths (Kunczik, 2016). The Sultan thousands and thousands of lost sales and cancellations are allegedly being spurred on by celebrities such as Elton John and Ellen De Generes and Jay Leno.

According to the report, they were striving to comply with the laws of the country in which we work, and accept no type of discrimination of some kind. The Political action committee (PAC) is only one of the lesbians, homosexuals, and bisexuals (LGBT) rights organisations that have sounded up news about the possible selling of Plaza Hotels. From Pennycook, Cannon, and Rand (2018) perspective, the rules that exist beyond Dorchester Collection have little impact on the policies regulating how they manage their hotels. Ty Cobb, HRC's director of Global Engagement, wrote in a recent comment: "The American income torrent that circulates from their hotels back from its system must end. "We encourage all New Yorkers to provide a clear and precise letter to the sultan.

Even though the advocate had not named the buyer, it strongly indicates that the Sultan of Brunei may be the highest public media of Sultan's initial offer and the fierce criticism he has faced since then. Ty Cobb, Director of Global Engagement for HRC, said, "It's obvious that the Sultan of Brunei had wanted to purchase the Plaza Hotel, and very little can be said to imply that it had been altered." "We closely track the situation and we and the residents of New York will react if the sultan offers the hotels." Regarding his May decision to start enforcing the draconian new laws that could lead to the subjugation of women and LGBT Bruneians, Sultan faced an international outcry.

Previous reports of the potential sales suggest that some hotel guests and groups holding annual events in The Plaza Hotel refused to return if an agreement had been reached with the Sultan (McGrew et al., 2017). The prospects of the Hotel Company and strong brand, according to certain industry experts, may affect its potential ownership. In May, the HRC strongly criticised Brunei's decision and called for Americans to circumvent his hotels, which calls for the use of the death penalty for females and LGBT people.

The Hollywood reporter said the Company "knows little" about the acquisition strategies in the Dorchester Collection. The Brunei department is controlled by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who is a big boycott of the Sharia penal code, which imposes harsh penalties on homosexuals and gays, which was enforced in the London Times at Brunei. The report of London claims that Sultan is allowed to' finance and operate the new assets individually via his household oasis vehicle.' Most influential corporations (the ICM Partners), as well as groups (the Motion Picture TV Fund), have released public boycott pronouncements since April.

According to McNair (2017), the Dorchester range is also subordinate to demonstrations and riots since April (The Hollywood journalist removed his annual Ladies in Film coming from the Beverly Hills Hotel). Some famous individuals, including Kim Kardashian and Russell Crowe, have challenged the efficacy of Bolkiah's penal code boycott of historical Beverly Hills Hotel. The CEO of the Dorchester Collection, Christopher Cowdray, echoed this sentiment. "The Exec said during a broadcast CBS interview, May 6, I feel completely unfairly picked up on them. "All they do is hurt a local enterprise."


How to Handle Fake News

Companies and others who try to refute false news and disinformation face difficulties. They fear when they disprove a fallacy, they will perpetuate and unwittingly reinforce the misinformation. Everyone often thinks about how much accurate evidence is needed to refute false claims (Berkowitz & Schwartz, 2016). A research study conducted by Dartmouth College Brendan Nyhan and Exeter University Jason Reifler indicates that an alternative misinformation argument is more effective than the dismissal of the false statements alone. Denying misleading claims can minimize expectations of confusion, but this technique is short because the knowledge that people do not have possible explanations can still be recalled.

Participants in the study posed a hypothetical situation about the superannuation of a fictional official, with different quantities of data including reports of bribery (misinformation), denial of such rumours, and confirmation that they retired to take another position elsewhere (causal explanation). During the presentation of a causal elaboration, the misperceptions created by rumours had little impact on reducing the misguided belief, which was incorrect by negating. Corporate communications should give a different interpretation and encourage people to review their convictions and reject falsehoods. In the Centre for Public Relations, Dr. Terry Flynn and Tim Li write the remedial communications that should clarify what took place instead of endorsing the denial of the argument. From Granik and Mesyura (2017) perspective, the stakeholders can still use rumours or other false statements to assess a situation if the corrections leave a void. However, it is insufficient to provide reliable evidence supporting a denial.

Comprehensive refutation is more successful than brief refutation results from other studies. Quick refutations rising beliefs in wrongdoing. The detailed counter arguments are more likely to be remembered over the years, according to research carried out by Ullrich Ecker, Professor, Ziggy O'Reilly, Jesse Reid and Ee Pin Chang of Western Australia. The findings are particularly relevant for PR practitioners trying to discredit media incorrect information (Azzimonti & Fernandes, 2018). Even refutations in short forms, such as a tweet, may reduce confidence in false assertions. However, if you go beyond simply stating that an argument is false and offers some more detail, it will have a higher quality impact. Flynn and Li write in another blog article to the Institute for Media relations: "It is important to stress what information is accurate and to recognize what is inaccurate or misleading.

The study did not find any proof to support the misleading statements by reiterating misconceptions in clarification. However, an earlier study warns against the inadvertent repetition of false information. According to Ong and Cabanes (2018), the danger is labelled, given the social action laboratory analysis by the University of Illinois at Urban-Champaign and the Annenberg Public Policy Centre, University of Pennsylvania, if this false argument offers a simpler explanation than the real one. The researchers therefore suggest that fake news maybe not necessarily labelled wrong. They accept that a well-discussed, thorough reverse description will be more successful with new information. The New York Times was advised by Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a studies writer. "The easiest way to displace this is to say, 'There is a causal explanation for autism, though not comprehensive,' but science does not yet know the underlying interpretation of autism."

Media Monitoring Solutions

The authors support the ongoing development of "warning systems" for destructive incorrect information. Current reports include False news, Snopes.com, RetractionWatch.com (scientific retractions), and FactCheck.org (political allegations). Ireton and Posetti (2018) claimed that competent information sharing professionals for companies and non-profit institutions who wish to dismiss a certain piece of false news may notify those warning services and publish propaganda corrections on their company and brand webpages and social media profiles. "Such an ongoing surveillance system provides optimal analysis and counter-argumentation conditions for incorrect information," the researchers note.

Corporations can also demand correction by getting in touch with editors or news network writers and social media accounts where the information has been misrepresented. Most professionals on public relations recommend that they only follow outlets where false information emerged and not that a general news release corrects them. From Bakir and McStay (2018) perspective, an organisation should also condemn disinformation completely by using their outlets, such as business and Brand websites. Not all misinformation should be rejected, especially if there is minimal or negligible circulation. Corporations, charities, and other entities may try a media benchmarking tool that tracks mentions of their brands, goods, and services.

Real-time notifications will automatically warn the PR and brand management staff when the company is listed on websites and social media. According to Hui (2018), the company can easily detect and combat disinformation by using workers or freelancers to read all media references until it spreads out. Since most false information begins on a variety of websites, tracking such bogus news pages is worthwhile. New work provides insights and practical tips in refuting lies and propaganda and misinformation. Despite the prevalence of misinformation, proactive businesses and non-profits are still at the forefront of identifying and quashing misinformation.


Azzimonti, M., & Fernandes, M. (2018). Social media networks, fake news, and polarization (No. w24462). National Bureau of Economic Research.

Bakir, V., & McStay, A. (2018). Fake news and the economy of emotions: Problems, causes, solutions. Digital Journalism, 6(2), 154-175.

Berkowitz, D., & Schwartz, D. A. (2016). Miley, CNN and The Onion: When fake news becomes realer than real. Journalism Practice, 10(1), 1-17.

Craig, K., Saurabh, C. & Lingling, W. (Aug 16, 2014). Brunei bids for New York’s Plaza Hotel. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from: https://www.wsj.com/articles/sultan- of-brunei-goes-shopping-for-hotels-in-new-york-and-london-1408226335

Granik, M., & Mesyura, V. (2017, May). Fake news detection using naive Bayes classifier. In 2017 IEEE First Ukraine Conference on Electrical and Computer Engineering (UKRCON) (pp. 900-903). IEEE.

Hui, L. T. (2018). Contexts. In Practising Corporate Social Responsibility in Malaysia (pp. 49-62). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Human Rights Campaign Press. (September 9, 2014). Press releases: Sultan of Brunei Back at the table to buy Plaza Hotel. HRC Press. Retrieved from: https://www.hrc.org/press/sultan-of-brunei-back-at-table-to-buy-plaza-hotel

Ireton, C., & Posetti, J. (2018). Journalism, fake news & disinformation: handbook for journalism education and training. UNESCO Publishing.

Kunczik, M. (2016). Images of nations and international public relations. Routledge.

Luxury Travel Advisor. (August 19, 2014). Will Brunei’s Sultan Buy New York’s Plaza Hotel? Questex LLC. Retrieved from: https://www.luxurytraveladvisor.com/will- brunei-s-sultan-buy-new-york-s-plaza-hotel

McGrew, S., Ortega, T., Breakstone, J., & Wineburg, S. (2017). The Challenge That's Bigger than Fake News: Civic Reasoning in a Social Media Environment. American Educator, 41(3), 4.

McNair, B. (2017). Fake news: Falsehood, fabrication and fantasy in journalism. Routledge.

Ong, J. C., & Cabanes, J. (2018). Architects of networked disinformation: Behind the scenes of troll accounts and fake news production in the Philippines. Newton Tech4Dev Network.

Pennycook, G., Cannon, T. D., & Rand, D. G. (2018). Prior exposure increases perceived accur.acy of fake news. Journal of experimental psychology: general, 147(12), 1865.

Perse, E. M., & Lambe, J. (2016). Media effects and society. Routledge.

THR Staff (August 16, 2014). Sultan of Brunei Reportedly Aims to Acquire Plaza Hotel in New York. The Hollywood Reporter Press. Retrieved from: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/sultan-brunei-reportedly-aims-acquire- 725910

Toledano, M., & Avidar, R. (2016). Public relations, ethics, and social media: A cross- national study of PR practitioners. Public Relations Review, 42(1), 161-169.

Wright, T., & Hope, B. (2018). Billion dollar whale: The man who fooled wall street, Hollywood, and the world. Hachette Books

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