Insights

  • Making brand authenticity all about the consumer

    By Charmaine Lau on November 29 , 2018

    So many brands are constantly fighting for our attention every single day – we see this in the form of celebrity endorsements, sponsored posts by brands, and paid social media influencers (Fun fact: Have you noticed that for every 3-5 posts on your feed, Instagram throws in a sponsored post?)

    It’s no wonder that consumers crave authenticity more than ever, and it’s not just the millennials.

    Stackla 2017 Consumer Content Report

    What builds authenticity?

    Let’s keep it real – authenticity influences and builds trust. Consumers want it, and brands should be delivering more of it! The question then is, what kind of content best resonates with customers and takes the consumer-brand relationship to the next stage?

    The answer is user-generated content, or UGC for short. Such content is seen as the most authentic since it’s created by people just like you and I. Everyday consumers are now the top influencers globally – the recent Cision/ PRWeek global survey showed that family and friends have the most impact on consumer behaviour, taking up 59% of the pie.

    Stackla 2017 Consumer Content Report

    How can brands leverage UGC to their advantage?

    This insight presents a great opportunity for brands. Whether it’s for social media platforms or a brand campaign, UGC is a powerful tool that bridges the gap with consumers.

    Singapore Tourism Board (STB) saw the potential, as it recently rolled out a new campaign ‘Beats of Singapore’ in partnership with Spotify. The objective of the campaign is to elevate Singapore as a travel destination by using music – the universal language of mankind – as a clever medium, and who better to promote Singapore but Singaporeans themselves!

    By getting Singaporeans to select their favourite song that represents a certain memory, place or activity in Singapore, STB is able to build a whole playlist of music that best represents the country through the different pillars of food, entertainment, adventure and culture, without having to do the heavy-lifting.

    Once the database has been built, travellers from all around the world can then use the microsite to gather recommendations on things to see and do in Singapore, based on the music they enjoy. Check it out here.

    Apple’s done it too, and with great success. The multi-channel campaign, #ShotOnIphone, encourages users to share photos taken with the iPhone and the content generated is then used to populate Apple’s official Instagram page, @apple. This campaign has been running for the past three years since it started in 2015 and has helped build a 10 million strong community of like-minded fans that’s almost cult-like.

    Is there a wealth of UGC waiting for your brand to tap on? The next time you’re crafting your next campaign, don’t forget to leverage on your consumers to drive authenticity and influence decision making.

  • 10 tips to manage a crisis

    By Huntington Communications on September 13 , 2018

    “I’m sorry” really does seem to be the hardest thing to say sometimes, especially when it goes beyond just saying these two words.

    Lena Soh-Ng, CEO at Huntington Communications, shares 10 tips on preparing and dealing with a crisis.

  • Huntington Communications names new Chief Innovation Officer

    By Carina Chan on August 01 , 2018

    Huntington Communications has appointed Thomas Goh (pictured) to the role of Chief Innovation Officer. The role will see Thomas expanding offerings in the area of digital innovation. This is another step in the transformation process that Huntington has been undertaking, into an insights-led integrated communications agency.

    Thomas joins Huntington with close to 20 years of experience in social strategy, performance marketing, mobile marketing, programmatic and platform development. He held senior marketing positions at Citibank, Singtel and Skype, and has marked career milestones with successful campaigns that include SATS Ready To Travel and Skype CommunicAsia.
    Previously, Thomas held the position of Head of Digital for Singapore and Malaysia at Havas Media. He has also led digital marketing training for C-Suite leaders in Cerebos, NUS ISS, Meritus Orchard, and SATS.

    Lena Soh-Ng, Senior Partner, Huntington Communications, said: “Business today is differentiated by smart thinking, and this has to be communicated clearly in different ways including new digital ecosystems. Huntington has been widely awarded for its work and this appointment lifts our capabilities on all channels to deliver successful targeted branding communications.”
    Thomas added, “Integrated communications goes beyond the functional use of tools and platforms. Strategy, ideas and creativity are still the forefront and backbone of any good campaign. It is this dynamic framework that we bring to clients as their strategic partner.”

  • Redesigning communications for a future-proof brand

    By Charmaine Lau on July 18 , 2018

    In a cluttered marketplace where consumers are exposed to over tens of thousands of brands daily, how do we ensure that our brand is capturing attention and converting customers? How do we as communication professionals, future-proof the brand?

    Recently, we rounded up the 2nd edition of Huntington’s annual Leadership Series, where Partner at Huntington, Goh He Lin, PR Awards 2017 Judge, Dominic Chew and Chief Innovation Officer at Huntington, Thomas Goh unpacked and shared best practices for brands to stand out in a digital world. Here are our three take-homes:

    Use data to understand customer pain points

    To understand your customer, gain clarity of the challenges they face. Having a wealth of data available at our fingertips puts brands in a better position to serve up solutions that consumers want.

    A Nielsen research shows that more than 80% of customers are willing to share their personal data with brands. However, only 8% of customers feel that they are getting better services and products as a result. Are you turning data into actionable results for your brand?

    Work on consistent brand messaging across all channels

    Being consistent is what makes your brand memorable and keeps it at the top of consumers’ minds. It is however important to recognise that each channel may require a different approach and adopting a one-size-fits-all approach will not work.

    Take time to understand each medium and how your audience’s habits differ in those different information channels – the kind of information they seek out, and actions they are likely to take. For instance, communicating on Instagram requires the use of strong visual content that appeals to the consumer’s aspirations, whereas Facebook is useful in fostering community engagement that drives brand loyalty.

    Dream big and achieve it

    The best ideas don’t remain the best forever. Brands need to adopt an open mindset to new approaches and constantly innovate bigger and better ideas to stay relevant.

    Yet, having big dreams alone isn’t enough. Where unconventional and innovative ideas are involved, courage is needed to take a leap of faith and follow through. After all, you know what they say – fortune favours the bold.

  • Italian Heritage House Reputation Architects Joins PROI Worldwide

    By PROI Worldwide on June 07 , 2018

    Italian PR and consultancy firm Heritage House Reputation Architects has become a partner agency of PROI Worldwide, the pre-eminent global partnership of independent communications agencies. With 75 agencies across five continents, PROI Worldwide is the world’s largest communications partnership with more than 5,400 staff servicing 8,200+ clients and 2017 net fee income of US$ 868+ million.

    Established in 2014 in Milan, with a secondary office in Rome, Heritage House is a consultancy firm with extensive professional experience in Reputation Building, Crisis Management and CSR. Special attention is dedicated to Business Education. Heritage House is run by a management with international experience.

    “We are excited about becoming part of PROI Worldwide, the largest partnership of successful independent agencies all over the world,” said Federico Cerrato, Founder and CFO of Heritage House. “Our consultancy has enjoyed a 40% average annual growth rate the last 4 years with a well-balanced presence in different business areas representing: Healthcare (30%), Agribusiness/Chemical (20%), Food (15%), Transportation (15%), and Imaging (20%). In these times of disruptive change PR professionals need to provide advice to senior management on how to increase their number of advocates”.

    According to PROI Worldwide’s Global Chair Clare Parsons, Chair of London based Lansons, “Heritage House’s strength relies on four strong business partners who provide clients with a broad experience, especially in highly-regulated industries such Life Sciences”. Parsons added that the agency’s special focus on improving and defending corporate reputation and its investments in stakeholder engagement, corporate reputation and CSR made the agency a natural choice to include in PROI Worldwide’s global partnership. “Our growth in the Italian market will also be enhanced by a third office in Rome, in addition to our strong presence in Milan, the economic heart of Italy, which has become increasingly appealing to foreign companies that have decided to establish their Italian headquarters there, and Torino, to meet the needs of our Italian and global clients”.

    The agency’s mission of leveraging a company’s heritage, its commitment to involvement in society and its goal to promote social inclusion led to the agency’s involvement in business education.

    “After almost 20 years in Global PR firms, I joined Heritage House”, said Elisabetta Moroni, MD of Heritage House. “We focus on three areas: awareness, leadership and values. From senior management to the sales force, we help clients develop a deeper understanding of their leadership role, leveraging on their reputation and identity”.

    The digital transformation has heavily affected the way in which companies must improve, or defend, their reputation. This means that Heritage House’s Crisis Communication and Public Affairs practice, led by partner Roberto Adriani, represents another strong area of expertise at the agency.

    Heritage House business education approach includes observational skills workshops, using innovative tools such the interpretation of arts masterpieces, from Renaissance, led by partner Fabio Romano Moroni.

     

    About Heritage House Reputation Architects
    Based in Milan and Rome, the agency is led by four business partners and 10 professionals with international experience. Established in 2014, the agency is focused on healthcare, agribusiness & chemical, food & nutrition, transportation and manufacturing. The agency advises national and international clients within Italy and across EMEA.

    About PROI Worldwide
    PROI Worldwide, the world’s largest partnership of integrated independent communications agencies, was founded in Europe in1970 and has offices in more than 135 cities in 50+ countries. With 75 agencies across five continents, PROI Worldwide is the 5th largest communications partnership in the world with more than 5,400 staff servicing 8,200+ clients worldwide and 2017 net fee income exceeding US$ US$ 868 million.

    Agency:                        Heritage House Reputation Architects
    Elisabetta Moroni:         elisabetta.moroni@heritage-house.eu
    Federico Cerrato:          federico.cerrato@heritage-house.eu
    Roberto Adriani:            roberto.adriani@heritage-house.eu
    Fabio Romano Moroni   fabio.moroni@heritage-house.eu

    PROI Worldwide:           www.proi.com
    Clare Parsons, Chair:     Clarep@lansons.com
    Allard van Veen, MD:     avv@proi.com

  • PROI Worldwide Appoints Three New Vice-Chairs

    By Huntington Communications on May 08 , 2018

    Appointments reinforces PROI’s commitment to Gender Diversity

    L-R: Kaija Pohjala, Managing Partner of Finnish Agency Cocomms, Angela Scaffidi,
    Managing Partner of Senate SHJ and Laura Tomasetti, CEO of Boston based 360PR+

    PROI Worldwide, the world’s largest partnership of integrated independent communications agencies, appointed three leading women agency owners, representing the Americas, EMEA and APAC Regions, Vice-Chairs at their Annual Meeting held in Lisbon, Portugal on May 5, 2018. All three will become members of PROI Worldwide’s International Board of Directors effective immediately.

    Kaija Pohjala, appointed Vice-Chair, EMEA Region, is Managing Partner of PROI’s leading Finnish Agency Cocomms. Angela Scaffidi, appointed Vice-Chair of the APAC Region, is Managing Partner of Senate SHJ, one of PROI’s Australian Agencies with several offices in both New Zealand and Australia. Laura Tomasetti, appointed Vice-Chair of PROI Worldwide’s Americas Region, is CEO of Boston based 360PR+, which has several offices in the USA.

    “The new Vice-Chairs represent some of the most successful agencies within PROI Worldwide and they will ensure PROI continues to benefit from strong leadership on our Board,” said Richard Tsang, outgoing Global Chair of PROI Worldwide and Chairman of SPRG Asia, Hong Kong’s largest integrated communications firm with offices throughout Asia.

    “I have been active in business for over 20 years, supporting international customers locally in Finland, and now I want to expand and become more active in an international setting. PROI is in an interesting phase of its development, sales, and knowledge sharing. Developing international business and raising mutual understanding among partners and clients is something I really look forward to doing in PROI,” says Kaija Pohjala, Managing Partner for Cocomms in Helsinki, Finland.

    “It’s an exciting time to be part of this globally recognized partnership, and to be the new regional Vice Chair for the APAC region which provides some of the brightest thinking in our industry, said Angela Scaffidi, Managing Partner of SenateSHJ, adding “working with our partners’ locally and across the globe will enable us to showcase fresh thinking to other regions and our clients.”

    “I’m incredibly impressed by the calibre of PROI partner agencies across the Americas and globally and honoured to have the opportunity to continue to cultivate the active sharing of best practices and successful collaborations that benefit our staff and clients and define PROI Worldwide,” commented Tomasetti.

    About Cocomms
    Cocomms Ltd is a full-service communications consultancy specialising in demanding businesses and situations, based in Helsinki, Finland. We provide quality support to our technology, finance, healthcare and consumer business clients with strategic development and implementation of their communications and in change and crisis situations. Our clients include the likes of Astra Zeneca, BlackRock, BMW, Boehringer Ingelheim, Cisco, Fujitsu, IBM, and McDonald’s. Cocomms’ turnover was 3.2 million euros in 2017, and it has 32 employees. Further information www.cocomms.com.

    About Senate SHJ
    It has never been a harder time to communicate consistently, clearly and convincingly. SenateSHJ exists to help our clients respond to this challenge and protect and enhance their reputations. SenateSHJ specialises in reputation and change. We have offices across Australia and New Zealand, along with an in-house content marketing, video production and social media agency.

    About 360PR+
    Born in the digital age, 360PR+ is perfectly built for today’s rapidly evolving communications world. As a consumer specialist agency, 360PR+ mobilizes consumer audiences for both category leaders and challenger brands. 360PR+ has been recognized as an Agency of the Year, Best Place to Work and one of the most creative agencies globally, with a team that is expert in earned media, influencer marketing, social media strategy, experiential events and more. 360PR+ operates offices in Boston, New York and San Francisco.

    About PROI Worldwide
    PROI Worldwide, the world’s largest partnership of integrated independent communications agencies, was founded in Europe in1970 and has offices in more than 135 cities in 50+ countries. With 75 agencies across five continents, PROI Worldwide is the 5th largest communications partnership in the world with more than 5,400 staff servicing 8,200+ clients worldwide and 2017 net fee income exceeding US$ US$ 883 million.

    Banner image: Getty Images

  • Are your PR analytics up to scratch?

    By KISS Communications on April 24 , 2018

    I recently attended an event discussing best practice in PR measurement and evaluation and, whilst most PR professionals will (I hope) be implementing these principles already, it gave me some valuable insight on measurement that’s fit for the future, and how some of the largest institutes in the UK implement their evaluation strategy.

    Evaluation is often seen as an intimidating term that’s referred to at the end of the month when sending off client reports. It often carries a heavy burden of expectation which can add unnecessary pressure.

    Here are my top takeaways from the event:

    1. Things have moved on

    If you’re still using AVE’s (advertising value equivalent – the cost of buying the space taken up by a particular article, had the article been an advertisement) to measure a campaign’s success, then you need to clean the cobwebs away and join the liberated masses.

    The worldwide PR industry has denounced AVEs as flawed – for those still hung up on employing AVEs as a measurement metric, have a read of AMEC’s guide to why AVEs are invalid. The main reason for not using them is simple: PR isn’t advertising and therefore can’t be measured as such.

    2. OASIS

    Alex Aiken, Executive Director for Government Communications, argued that you can’t measure everything, and you shouldn’t. Measurement should be about evaluating things which contain an action to improve and develop, or to inform the next campaign.

    OASIS is an acronym used for all government communication strategies in order to help bring clarity to planning and executing often complex campaigns.
    • O: Objectives
    • A: Audience insight
    • S: Strategy/insight
    • I: Implementation
    • S: Scoring/evaluation

    The aim is to help make the planning process simpler and easier to remember. OASIS should be viewed in the context of a wider campaign e.g. we want to increase traffic to the KISS website by 12% and we’re going to launch an influencer campaign to achieve this.

    Monitoring outputs and outcomes throughout your campaign will allow you to make minor adjustments to the implementation and review and refresh the approach after each phase of the campaign. So, when it comes to evaluation, discussions are much more focused around areas to improve and develop rather than just hitting KPI’s.

    3. Evaluation isn’t about reach

    More than three quarters (78%) of Brits feel they’re better informed than ever before, however only 4/10 read beyond a headline. With growing distrust in social media, and as influencers tend to buy followers, traditional ways of measuring reach as a metric are becoming inaccurate. The Pepsi refresh project is a great case study in highlighting how measuring by reach alone can damage a company.

    Clients are more likely to be interested in out-takes and outcomes. The extent to which the audience is aware of the message, has understood and remembered it, validates if the campaign is working, or acts as an early warning that the strategy may need adjustment.

    Outcomes provide concrete proof, such as a rise in sales that can be traced to PR and can be the strongest basis for estimating a return on the PR investment.

    The general consensus from the room was that PR analytics across the board are still very far away from being a well-oiled machine. Interestingly, 70% of PR pros recognise a skills gap in data analytics and many were calling for backing from professional bodies and backing from clients for what they want from success.

    At KISS we can see how a large proportion of campaigns are now integrated. PR doesn’t operate in a vacuum, it’s part of the wider marketing mix, which means measuring impact isn’t isolated to PR activity. Evaluation should be a collaborative approach between client and agency – KPI’s shouldn’t be set by an organisation and then locked away in a dark cupboard until your next six-month review.

    Evaluation should be used as a method in creating the most effective communication campaign, not as an indicator of how well you can do your job. Agreeing up front the different ways of evaluating is always a priority at KISS – and it will be different for each client depending on their desired outcomes.

  • Here’s what we felt Facebook did well, and could also potentially do better in PR Crisis Comms

    By Helin Goh on April 12 , 2018

    When you have 2.2 billion active users worldwide potentially impacted by a data breach, it is a blunder. But more of a PR blunder.

    Data collection is not limited to Facebook. If you exist in the society of now, own a smartphone and happen to run a couple of apps, chances are your user data is being collected by a tech company running these web services.

    Breaches in personal data have become common place. The moment we ‘like’ a post or agree to the T&C fine prints before we start an app, we have allowed ourselves to be susceptible to data being stolen.

    While fixing the product and regulations may take awhile, bringing the communications up to speed in times of such crisis may be less of a rocket science.

    Here’s what we felt Facebook did well, and could do better.

    What was done well

    1. Taking ownership at the highest level

    Faced with multiple waves of backlash coming at Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg remains steadfast in owning the situation and responding to them, as opposed to passing the buck to another member of the team.

    Putting a face to the brand in times of crisis is important. It helps assure the audience that someone is held accountable, and not just an organization putting out statements.

    1. Use of simple, clear language to communicate

    “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.”

    In most crisis, the audience just wants closure and to move on from the incident. When the ownership of crisis is clearly communicated in a sincere manner, people are more likely to forgive and forget. Comments online have favorably been on the side of Mark Zuckerberg, with most calling him a true leader.

    1. Control the narrative with planned interviews

    When Mark Zuckerberg gave CNN the exclusive one-on-one interview after news of the data breach broke, he was taking charge of how he wanted his audience-at-large to receive information from him. Rather than allow media to speculate and piece together information based on loosely quoted interviews, he chose not to be caught off guard, and convey his thoughts in a concerted way.

    The choice of media is also key. Choosing a media that is more neutral to the brand, giving it as an exclusive, does help take the heat off a notch.

    1. Clear Standard Operating Procedure

    Facebook was swift to roll out a game plan right after the news broke:

    i) Top executives were sent to key markets to meet with regulators and conducted inquiry sessions.

    ii) All top executives were trained on key messages and bridged difficult questions with them.

    iii) The key messages were structured to move the conversation forward

    a. Acknowledge: I’m really sorry that this happened

    b. What could not be done: I wish we’d taken those steps earlier. That … is probably the biggest mistake that we made here

    c. Next steps: We will make a full forensic audit

    Facebook had a clear standard operating procedure (SOP) detailing how it was going to address the problem moving forward. With plans to restrict access to data in the future, Facebook is embarking on a major shift in its relationship with third-party app developers that have used Facebook’s vast network to expand their businesses. What was largely an automated process will now involve developers agreeing to “strict requirements”. This change is one of the many steps Facebook is taking to curtail developers’ abilities to access data.

    For a start, Zuckerberg is taking the right steps to address operational failures even though time will tell if this is enough.
     

    What could be done better

    1. Long lead time before responding to the public

    Waiting for over two years before the news broke, and then for Facebook to acknowledge and come back with an honest apology might be too late, too little? When the brand is a media platform, and its community media owners themselves, taking the pro-active approach to inform users of the breach and providing steps to recover could potentially help Facebook lose less fans in this whole debacle.

    While the #DeleteFacebook momentum may be losing steam, it sure has caused a dent in the brand, especially with prolific users such as co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak and founder of Tesla, Elon Musk, joining in the movement.

    In the case of Adobe’s 2013 data breach, the company informed affected customers immediately and users appreciated the company being honest and upfront that their credit card numbers and passwords have been encrypted. Brad Arkin, VP ad CSO of Adobe, shared that it is not advisable to wait six months until every fact is out because then the actual information isn’t as timely for the people who need it.

    1. Lack of brand advocates

    Strong brand advocates play an important role to rally support behind a brand in times of crisis. In the case of Facebook, a lack of advocates led to the tension leading up to the crisis.  Corporate users like Tesla deleted their brand page and advertisers like Commerzbank and Mozilla suspended advertising on Facebook.

    On the other hand, Under Armour had brand advocates including Olympians Michael Phelps and Linsey Vorm who took to social media to sing the brand’s praises during its 2014 Design Flaw scandal. Today, Under Armour has gracefully moved on from that crisis with their 2015 announcement of an extended sponsorship with the US speed skating team.

    As a case in point, brand advocates play a role in determining whether a brand bounces back stronger or tarnished further. Building an eco-system of advocates take time and brands should start cultivating it as part of crisis preparedness way ahead of a potential crisis.

     

    Banner Image: Time Magazine

  • What’s on the Menu for Food & Beverage Brands in 2018?

    By Maggie O'Neill on March 21 , 2018

    With a consumer base that spans all ages, with tastes that are even more varied, brands in the food and beverage industry need to focus. Successful brands find a way to lock into their core value proposition — think TGI Friday’s and their Endless Apps — listen to customers at all touchpoints and remember to address key elements in the entire dining experience from Google restaurant search to paying the tab. Ready for a drink yet?

    With this large task at hand, here are four factors that are shaping the way consumers embrace brands today, all of which look poised to stay on the menu for some time to come.

    Local, local, local

    Whether shopping or dining, consumers continue to look for all things local. And while larger restaurants or food and beverage brands may struggle to actually be the corner bar, there are elements of communications that can support this consumer desire.

    For example, when developing an activation in restaurant, make sure you take the local flavor and tastes into account. Partner with a local distiller for special cocktail nights, or look to a local food source to add some new spice to traditional dishes. In addition to the in-restaurant experience, actively work to create content that can be shaped by the local establishments to better appeal to their fan base and followers. Find a local ingredient to add to a salad promotion on Caesar Salad Day, or engage with a local employee to talk about their favorite salad toppings. Don’t be so regimented with a corporate brand voice that local cannot be a part of a guest’s experience.

    Think like Sam Malone

    For those who remember Sam Malone from Cheers, this is a pretty simple statement. People like to feel they belong at their chosen bar or restaurant (“Where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came …”). Looking at a food-and-beverage brand through this lens can help make the drinking and/or dining experience all that more appealing, and can increase loyalty and subsequent visits.

    In restaurant, brands need to focus on their staff to ensure they are acting the part and bringing the brand to life for each and every guest. Outside of a restaurant, Sam Malone can come to life in multiple ways. Brands should look to reinforce their own personal Sam Malone with expert mixologists, bartender wisdom, wine aficionados and approachable chefs. These voices (and faces) can serve to elevate the brand through social content and media lifestyle engagement. And the Sam Malone mindset must go across all channels, communications and engagements in order to be effective. Brands and agencies that don’t apply this mindset will be left behind.

    Think guest-tech, not just tech

    Technology for technology’s sake has never really succeeded, and that is even truer in the world of food and beverage. From digital waiters and mobile payments to high-tech wine openers and the latest in kitchen gadgets, many restaurants are trying to out-tech each other, leaving some guests unhappy. For brand leads and communicators responsible for launching and talking about the latest tech, one rule stands true: technology must be guest-forward first.

    Take the Coravin Wine Preservation Opener. While not completely new to the market, the technology is showing up more and more in the dining experience. For brands incorporating this gadget, communications should not focus on its availability, but on the wine experience it can deliver: better access to normally unopened bottles, fresher wine, etc. Focusing too much on tech can quickly disinterest a guest.

    Foodies: forever influential

    Influence continues to come from the foodie community. Whether influence comes from Instagrammers, bloggers or other platform leaders, the food culture continues to drive the food and beverage experience. Their influence is becoming more dynamic, more complex and more important. Brands and communicators need to work with these food-forward influencers to create an image for their brand that is authentic, relevant, engaging and anything but staged. These Foodies can, and should, be engaged with at both macro and micro levels to support brand needs, as well as through both paid and organic initiatives. In addition, the influencers’ core followers are foodies at heart, so engagement should not just encourage Instagrammers to snap the latest food porn, but inspire their followers to join them for dinner as well.

    So eat and drink up! The menu of opportunities is endless when communicators focus on the guest over the brand and look at the whole experience over just the entrée.

    PROI Worldwide 
    www.proi.com

    Banner Image: Pixabar

  • 3 Steps To Own That Comeback

    By Sarah Ng on January 15 , 2018

    3 STEPS TO OWN THAT COMEBACK

    Tongues were definitely wagging when yet another familiar franchise pulled out of sunny Singapore overnight, much to the dismay of many diehard fans. Thankfully, it seems that brands can’t stand being away for long and return so quickly, it’s almost like they never left. Almost!

    So how do you effectively pull off the return of a brand?

    Here are three ways to nail the comeback, taking cues from the recent campaign we spearheaded with comeback kid of 2017, Gong Cha Singapore.

    1. CREATE HYPE

    While brands may not necessarily have a choice when they exit, they do have a choice on how they can return with a bang. Go hard or go home; Make a ruckus. It is crucial that the brand announces its return on its own channels but of even greater importance is to engage the loyal customer base to help share the news. The easiest channel? Digital! Create content worth sharing (hint: launch date / special promos), pump some money behind it for additional reach and the rest is history! In the case of Gong Cha, we also took it offline by seeding products to the media and influencers.

    After you’ve gotten likes, comments, shares, reactions, excited emojis by the thousands, the next step is the actual launch day. Throw a VIP-only party for media, influencers, and partners as these KOL will help get the word out.

    2. REWARD BRAND ENTHUSIASTS

    Singaporeans take their F&B very seriously. Brands can’t come and go and expect customers to be patiently waiting like a forlorn lover. If there’s any intent to return, never drop off fans by closing your digital sites. While planning a return, constant conversations with fans can help shape an eventful comeback.

    Additionally, brands must be the ones showing loyalty. Giving back to customers is always a nice gesture. In Gong Cha’s case, we knew who their customers were and what they were looking for. With this information, we formulated and executed our plan in a targeted approach. The results? Snaking queues the day of the launch, with some even comparing it to the launch of an iPhone.

    3. SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW

    Yes, the brand is back! After the initial two minutes of rejoicing, what now? It’s not enough for the brand to come back resuming status quo. Give people something more to talk about! New design – check! More variety – check! Innovative initiatives to benefit the community – check!

    With Gong Cha, the introduction of highly instagrammable flavours like the Purple Sweet Potato Latte and Strawberry Popcorn added to the hype. When the new introductions are a hit, it’s also a promise to customers that you’re back and even better than before.

    There you have it! A three step guide to successfully bringing a brand back into the market. P.S. Llaollao, hit us up at 6339 2883.

  • The PR of Today and Tomorrow

    By Tseng Yi Ying on January 10 , 2018

    In today’s tech-savvy and hyperpersonalized digital age, the PR industry is forced to evolve. Like it or not, the PR industry is going digital. With this, what are some of the impacts and considerations for PR professionals to look out for?

    1. PR Metrics

    Traditionally, advertising value equivalency (AVE) is used as a quantifiable metric to put a value to PR outcomes. This metric involved numbers and was appealing to the top management who needed to put a value to their earned media coverage. However, here’s the problem. AVE is a misrepresentation of PR outcomes as AVEs can be overestimated, underestimated or even, not accounted for. This is also why the PR industry is gradually abandoning the AVE metric system.

    Today, PR outcomes are better measured against three measurements. These are

    • Brand impact
    • Digital impact
    • Bottom line impact

    On the top of the funnel is brand impact, a term familiar to many PR professionals. It captures things like awareness, mindshare, and reputation. Yet, here lies the issue. These elements are intangible and have not been very well understood by the top management. To really drive home the impact of PR efforts in a tangible manner, PR needs to assess PR-driven traffic, social amplification, influenced pipeline, conversions, and revenue; all of which belong to the lower two tiers of the Communicator’s funnel (Refer to figure 1).
                                                                      

                                                                                                                   Figure 1: Communicator’s Funnel

    What does this mean for PR professionals

    The prevalence of going digital suggests the need for PR pros to re-look at their PR metrics. Whilst AVE is gradually becoming irrelevant in today’s digitized landscape, there is a need to take on other forms of measurements to better capture PR outcomes within the digital milieu.

    1. Evolution of the Press Release

    Press releases used to be the go-to method for PR professionals to get their news in the hands of the media. They were typically shared in bulk and waiting for a media to ‘pick up’ on the press release. However, long gone are the days where PR pros mass send their press releases.

    According to tech website Gizmodo, PR professionals in 2014 outnumbered journalists five to one. To make things worse, the number of journalists is expected to decline by 9% over the next ten years. Now, what does this mean? It simply means that the numbers are stacked against the PR pros as it becomes more competitive to stand out from the massive number of press releases journalists receive every day. It is no longer wise to spam the journalists which could further erode trust between PR pros and journalists.

    What can we do about it?

    Creativity, rather than quantity, is preferred as brands and agencies ‘fight’ to stand out amongst the many press releases journalists receive. The new alternative is to target the relevant journalists and influencers to increase the relevancy of pitches with outreach that is personalized. This can better ensure increasing response rates and earned media hits.

    Moving forward

    To embrace the digital landscape, PR pros will need to rely more on data-led tools and analytics for better strategizing so as to achieve better PR outcomes. Put it simply, PR has already and is likely to continue creeping its way into the tech space where social listening and the likes will gradually find their way onto our PR checklist. Till then, embrace the change!

     

    References

    TRENDKITE (2018). AVE is a Mirage: And Other Radical Shifts in Public Relations. TRENDKITE.

     

  • Consumer Facing Media is Critical Support to B2B Publicity

    By Paula Conway on December 08 , 2017

    Many startups focused on B2B sales apparently don’t understand why it’s critical to simultaneously carry their message over to a consumer-facing audience through media efforts.

    Working in a vacuum of exclusive B2B media may seem logical when selling a product or service directly to vendors and partners, and the trade publications are an excellent way to get the message out. However, it’s important to understand that the breadth and depth of brand efforts are much farther reaching.

    Let’s take the example of a company that creates software for health insurance programs. Their clients are insurance companies or exchanges that will buy the software and white-label it with their own skin to reach a consumer, educating them on the various types of insurance they can purchase, with rates based on algorithmic questions. On the face of it, this is a B2B product. So why – and how – would we take this client to consumer media?

    Trade media looks to consumer media for story ideas, for validation and legitimacy of products, services, and expertise, and to prove a company’s market for business. The funnel moves both ways: consumer press look to the trades for the same ideas and validation of concept.

    Start by positioning the CEO as an expert with strategic placements in consumer media. By doing so, the CEO becomes the go-to for consumer press looking for comments on the current state of health insurance. This not only puts the CEO in a position of expertise, but also illustrates to trade media that this CEO is the reliable go-to source for wide-circulation publications (Fox News Health, Inc., Forbes, USA Today). The exposure and trust this brings to the brand is irreplaceable.

    A trade publication that writes about insurance platforms, such as Broker Innovation lab, understands that the CEO of the healthcare software startup is a widely-received expert and is therefore likely to consider him or her more immediately as a trusted expert in the field. This is PR 101, because that third-party endorsement is what validates the product. If USA Today says it’s a good product and trusts this CEO, why wouldn’t we?

    On an event more micro level, let’s assume the healthcare insurance platform is focused specifically on products for insurance brokers. All the more reason why this consumer-facing media can be effective; it shows that the company has proven a market for their goods or services. Proving a marketplace is the lynchpin. Without it, no goodwill exists for either consumer or trade audiences. it further builds confidence among B@B partners and vendors that they don’t have time to create a marketplace, a validation companies are seeking to buy into the product or service.

    The critical component is the startup’s ability to leverage the media in question. A savvy starup will take consumer media to the table during investor negotiations, play it against trade media, and make the case that they have not only proven a marketplace, but created consumer goodwill with their brand. Legitimizing expertise in both consumer and trade media makes a solid case for funding. We’ve seen this as a successful maneuver many times with our own clients. However, if the startup doesn’t understand how to play these cards, the efforts are a waste of everyone’s time.

    Agency efforts on pitching trade and consumer press shouldn’t entail complex billing. If your fees are a whole pie and 80 percent of the time is trade, a solid 20 percent is allocated to consumer media. This 20 percent will consist of a target list of 5 – 10 publications for strategic placements. With the healthcare software company, publications might include: CNN Health, Forbes, Inc. Technology, USA Today, AP, WSJ Health blog, Shots: Health News from NPR, and The Atlantic Health. Broader efforts might include websites like Buzzfeed and Popsugar, if the demographic is there.

    Before advising your client to share the media pie, vet their ability to utilize it. Do they have a strategy, and if so, what exactly does that look like? This will help both parties understand if the time is best spent playing in one sandbox or expanding to support more strategic efforts.

    About the Author: Paula Conway is president of a New York based Media Group and an award-winning author and writer, she has contributed to In Style, the New York Times, Robb Report, Good Housekeeping, New York Post, and New York Daily News, among others.

    PROI Worldwide

     

  • Sustainability is the new way to talk business, if you haven't heard

    By Joan Yap on August 15 , 2017

    Sustainability is the new sexy

    We have all been hearing the term ‘Sustainability’ for a while now, be it loosely used to mean that the ‘Reuse, Reduce, Recycle’ check boxes have been ticked off, or to mean serious business i.e. the likes of big data, sustainability reports or policies, being put in action to cultivate behaviour changes in and outside of business.

    Brands are jumping on the green bandwagon, mostly motivated by the sheer significance consumers have recently placed on the need to care for Mother Earth. And we can’t blame them.

    According to Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report 2015, brand trust tops the list of sustainability factors that influence purchasing decisions, with 62% of consumers saying it’s an important factor.

    Even within an organization, products that come with the sustainability label perform better than those that do not take steps to communicate their environmental footprint and social impact. Case in point, Unilever’s ‘Sustainability Living’ brands are growing 50% faster than the rest of the business and accounted for 60% of growth in 2016.

    So, where do we go after claiming our stake as a green business with our ‘Reuse, Reduce, Recycle’ strategy?

    Scroll on to find out how we can turn this overwhelm into opportunities.

     

    Check off these directives and we are on our way!

    Sustainability Reporting – Have you adopted this new communication currency?

    Truthful consumerism has kicked in, thanks to the insane connectivity explosion that is empowering people on an unprecedented scale in search of transparent communication and platforms to express their concern.

    The new reality is that businesses need to come clean, or be seen making efforts to show that the organization has done the necessary steps to run its operations in an ethical and sustainable way. If you have cut your carbon footprint by 30%, talk about it. If you haven’t and have the wish to step up, talk about it too. It will grow brand love, we promise you.

    Sustainability Starts from Within – Cultivate Green Warriors for Long-Term Business Leadership.

    3M pioneered its ‘Pollution Prevention Pays’ program in 1975 to eliminate pollution at the source through product reformulation, process modification, equipment redesign, and the recycling and reuse of waste materials.

    The policy was implemented across its organization and supply chain to show that 3M means big business when they go on their sustainability path. Not only did the organization embark on its journey to doing business more sustainably, it also translated to over billion of dollars of cost savings from the first year of the project.

    Sustainability Powers the New Consumerism Future

    Help consumers achieve their sustainable goals and the business will take care of itself, somehow. IKEA went from almost no LED sales to 63 million within six years, an impressive business growth while communicating its aim to enable consumers to play a role for a greener environment by saving energy and extending bulb lifespan.

    Sustainability needs Allies

    Again, this is simply because sustainability is not just about turning off the lights or putting that waste paper into the recycling bin. It requires collective effort, by businesses and also the involvement of consumers and partners to keep the conversation going, if we are serious about the sustainability of our future.

    It is about building an eco-system of the like-minded, be it caring for wildlife or looking into ways of energy conservation, to leverage on each party’s strengths to amplify influence and impact. Think COP21 Paris Agreement – but really, we do not have to be the head of a country to start seeking allies.

    Do you have a Sustainability Recovery Game Plan?

    In the 1990s, Nike was exposed for unfair labour practices within its complex supply chains including running sweatshops and using child labour. The company made a 180- degree turnaround by acknowledging the issues, creating partnerships with NGOs and government agencies, changing their global procurement systems and reducing their dependency on scarce resources.

    Transparency and innovation became part of the culture as Nike positioned sustainability at the core of their business – a true villian to hero success story.

  • Is Your Restaurant Media-Ready?

    By Sejal Bagaria on August 07 , 2017

    A pan- Indian tapas restaurant with a full-fledged cocktail bar, Flying Monkey has garnered quite some buzz in the media over the 3-month campaign we had had carried out. Its name let alone drew several questions. Traditionally when one thinks of Indian food, they think of eateries like ‘Bombay Cafe’ (something on the fancier side) or prata at your local hawker centre. Flying Monkey had a clear vision on wanting to penetrate the saturated market as a fun and chill environment that serves up some serious authentic Indian cuisine.

    We took the reins on this challenge by firstly making this new restaurant media-ready. This simply means ensuring your restaurant will be ‘qualified’ to be picked up by the media, emphasising why you have an edge over the others. Here’s three tips on how you can make that happen:

    Stand out from the rest

    Easier said than done, considering how fast-paced the F&B industry is in Singapore, but never say never! Whether it is your restaurant’s name. story, culture, furniture or atmosphere, anything that gives you the upper hand has a higher chance of being scouted by the media. For Flying Monkey, it was their unusual and somewhat controversial name coupled with their tapas concept that sparked interest in their own consumers as well.

    Know your best sellers

    Media tasting sessions do not typically last long enough for them to try your entire menu, so choose your best sellers wisely! These typically could be ones with a secret recipe, story to tell, or a favourite amongst your consumers. If you are hosting a few media tasting sessions, don’t be afraid to experiment. Learn from the feedback given from the first session to improve your best sellers for the subsequent ones. Flying Monkey’s original best-seller was the ‘Galouti Kebab’, which is a mutton kebab that was very overwhelming for some. So, we swopped that out for ‘Fried Okra’ (fried lady finger chips) which was an instant hit!

    Create a strong presence on social media

    In the digital world we live in, the first thing the media looks up about your restaurant isn’t your website (that comes second), instead it is your Instagram account. Most clients feel that a Facebook page is enough to go on, however Instagram is a more up and coming interactive platform to highlight your restaurant. Since you are new to the market, no one would expect you have a 1000 followers immediately (although that never hurt nobody), but it is your content they look at. Is it visually appealing? Is it different? More importantly, does your food and restaurant itself look enticing? Use the simplicity and inexpensiveness of social media to your advantage!

  • Why Youth Collaborations Are Better For Brands

    By Eugene Chuang on May 24 , 2017

    This year, Huntington and IKEA are once again collaborating on the IKEA Young Designer Award, a nationwide, tertiary-level product design competition that seeks to improve the way we live at home.

    The search for Singapore’s best young designer continues as the competition opens its doors to foreigners, and aligns with the theme of What Design Can Do, a global design sustainability challenge jointly organized by the IKEA Foundation and the Autodesk Foundation.

    As a branding agency, we have and continue to see a growing importance in championing youth collaborations.

    Positive outcomes from youth engagement

    Research has shown that youth involvement is beneficial to both brands and youth themselves. Programmes that are jointly developed with youth are more likely to be effective at engaging the public and consequently, enjoy a greater impact.

    It is also observed that youth who are involved in the decision-making process increases the likelihood that their decisions and recommendations will be accepted and adopted by the public.

    Perhaps most important of all, studies also show that empowering youth to identify and respond to societal needs shapes them to be more empathetic and insightful individuals, while positively impacting their future careers.

    A case study

    Take the winner of last year’s IKEA Young Designer Award as an example. Mr Loren Lim, an industrial design graduate from the National University of Singapore (NUS) won the votes of the judges with his range of kitchen and dining tools for one-handed individuals.

    Titled ‘Oneware’, the range includes a mat with bumps to hold plates and other utensils in place while they are being scrubbed, and a table pad with a curved surface that makes picking up kitchen utensils easier.

    Loren Lim and his inclusive-oriented solution (1)

    Loren engaged with organizations such as the Disabled People’s Association of Singapore and SG Enablers as part of his research. His spark of genius came when he observed a woman with a congenital arm defect having difficulties handling everyday household chores.

    While it isn’t clear if Loren’s design will go into mass production, his concept has certainly caught the attention of both local and international organizations alike, proving that youth such as himself can positively influence the way we approach the toughest community challenges, while inspiring future generations to adopt a more creative design approach.

    Lim Tian Hwee Loren presenting his inclsuive oriented solution to the judges and audience (1)

    Point for Reflection

    As we move past 2017 and beyond, we believe that youth collaborations are here to stay. It is only a matter of how organizations and agencies can harness the such a partnership for a greater impact for both the brand and the community.

  • What Keeps You Up at Night?

    By Helin Goh on May 22 , 2017

    Check off these points and get yourself a good night’s rest.

    As brand guardians and communicators, the one thing that keeps us all up at night is when brand reputation is at stake. If you are nodding to that, read on to find out what we covered at Huntington’s inaugural ‘Leadership Series’ which was co-organized with our PROI partner from the Pacific region, Neil Green, Chairman and Chief Executive from Senate IHG, to share on how digital has disrupted the way we manage our brand’s reputation.

    Disruption may sound like rocket science, but hey, the good thing about science is there is always a formula. So here are our top three takeaways from the session to help you grasp the new wave of brand reputation, crisis or not.

    Bottoms-up to Trust
    Global trust in government, media and businesses has fallen to its lowest levels, and these sentiments are similarly mirrored in a corporate setting where the credibility of CEOs are at an all-time low. More than 60% have rated a person like themselves to be the most credible spokesperson in the latest Trust Barometer survey done by Edelman. What this means for communicators trying to build brand stories is that we need to start looking at employees, peers and the man on the street as effective messengers. In this digital age where information is readily accessible, ‘control’ is being given away to build trust instead. Start building relationships in times of low threat and you will have yourself a peer army to ride you through the next crisis.

    Impressions can become Reality
    We all learned a new term in communication recently, fake news, no thanks to Brexit and the recent US election. And guess what, this new order of the day is here to stay, as long as we remain glued to our digital communities. Public opinions are now shaped by an impactful imagery, an emotional appeal or a powerful hashtag. Think about the image of the passenger on United Airlines being dragged across the aisle, or the #DeleteUber campaign. Well, we are not saying that what had happened weren’t real. We are saying that what we had perceived as reality may only form a part of the full picture. We are becoming a rising number that exist inside a filtered bubble, being served information that confirm what we already think. Now, here’s another term for you to sit on ‘post-truth’ where objective facts are less influential than appeals to personal beliefs.

    Digital is All About Being Human
    As much as we would like to think of digital as a platform which allows us the convenience to remotely interact with our audience, many fail to realize that digital is about people. The whole premise of digital is to engage, not broadcast. Start speaking the language of your audience: fast, actionable and informal. Allow your spokespersons to communicate like they are connecting to a peer, not a robot reading off a well-prepared script. Provide a platform for your audience to connect to their peers (in this case, try the Bottoms-up approach in point 1) because they trust the information they get from individuals than from a brand speak. Don’t worry about the interaction getting out of control, because like they always say, ‘let the brand speak for itself’.

     

     

  • PROI completes ASEAN network in view of the strategic importance of this region

    By Huntington Communications on May 17 , 2017

    In the last 12 months, the consortium has added six new agencies to its roster, bringing the group’s network to 17 agencies in Asia and Australia-New Zealand.

    PROIAsian-2

    PROI Worldwide just concluded its 47th Annual Global Summit in Sydney Australia, with more than 60 of the world’s leading PR agency owners committing to build new pathways to more effective communications.

    Change in industry landscape

    The conclusion of the Annual Global Summit has seen the world’s leading PR agency owners come to the consensus that there is now a new normal in the way messages are sent and received, dramatically changing the way our views of the world are formed.

    For brands, the question of how to communicate is not as simple as it once was. According to Mr. Tsang, “Ten years ago, we questioned; PR or advertising? Nowadays, we ask a bewildering array of questions: owned, earned, or paid media? Content marketing, native advertising or influencer relations? What do we do about social media trolls and fake news?”

    In a world where people are inundated with thousands of messages on a daily basis, finding a path in the forest underbrush is essential for success. And brands, more often than not, suffer through topics as puzzling as millenials and social media, and as daunting as big data and analytics.

    Opportunities in Asia Pacific

    This explosion of options has gotten businessmen and politicians in a bind, making the consultants that provide clear advice on the way forward, all the more necessary. PROI Worldwide, for one, is wasting no time in capitalizing on this sea change.

    With over $800 million in revenue spread across 75 partners in 50 countries, the industry consortium is among the three largest public relations organizations in the world. From less than a dozen agencies four decades back, PROI now serves over 5,000 corporations with more than 5,000 employees globally, says Allard van Veen, PROI Worldwide Managing Director

    The opportunities are all the more apparent in Asia and Australia. With more than 4.4 billion people, and an aggregate GDP of over $24 trillion, Asia Pacific is the world’s largest economic powerhouse. The region is also expected to achieve the fastest economic growth rates in a world that has vacillated between expansion and contraction in the last five years.

    “Consultants thrive in this environment of confusion, where there is a clear need for people who can point the way forward”, says Lena Soh-Ng, Senior Partner at Huntington Communications and Co-Chair of PROI Asia-Pacific Crisis Group. “We provide options that minimize risks, and corporations, personalities, and the government place a lot of value in these options when there are great opportunities ahead,” Ms. Soh-Ng adds.

    Mirroring the strategic importance of the region, PROI has expanded its partnership in Asia Pacific by more than 30 percent in the last year alone. “Just in the last 12 months, we have added six new agencies to our roster, bringing our network to 17 organizations, from 11 last year,” said Mr. van Veen.

    PROI Worldwide is the longest-running partnership of public relations agencies, founded in 1970. Since then, PROI has grown to encompass 75+ partner agencies with 5,000+ PR professionals across five continents, 50 countries and 100+ cities.

    Banner image: Wikimedia Common

  • 3 tips to maximize communications for causes

    By Candice Lee on March 09 , 2017

    For charities and causes, public awareness is important. Not only does it raise its’ profile, but also help to garner support for sponsorship and participation. Communications is a key driver for generating public recognition, engaging with supporters, and moving them on a personal level instead of simply reaching out to the masses.

    Huntington just wrapped up a successful 24th edition of Run For Hope, National Cancer Centre Singapore’s annual awareness campaign and fundraiser for its Research Fund. Here’s how we pulled off a five-month communications campaign that garnered close to 10,000 runners and volunteers for the run.

    1. Setting clear objectives

    We set out with a main goal of garnering participation for the run. With that in mind, we also looked at the core demographics of past year’s run, and honed in on it to create a strategy that could reach our supportive runners, as well as new demographic groups that we could potentially connect with.

    1. The virtue of patients

    Cancer is not unknown — in Singapore, approximately 37 people are diagnosed with cancer everyday. However, we needed the public to have an emotional connection with the run, especially when its cause is focused on cancer research. This is where our survivor ambassadors came in. Their stories helped reinforce the message of hope, and that cancer is not a death sentence. This is also the driving force behind cancer research — to increase survival rates through earlier diagnosis and alternative treatments for patients.

    1. Having authentic ambassadors

    Many causes and charities in Singapore tap on influencers to expand their reach and to engage with millennials. While it’s not wrong to use their social media star power, we wanted to make sure that we were engaging with the right influencers. To do so, our key criterion was whether the personalities either have a cancer story of their own to share or if they believed in the cancer research cause — not their number of followers on Instagram or Facebook.

  • Influencer Marketing For STEM Education

    By Carina Chan on February 27 , 2017

    Millennials dont learn the same way as baby boomers did, and as with change, perhaps education techniques to engage such students should also be tweaked accordingly.

    Although STEM — the academic principles of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — is high in the cards for Singapore’s future, PM Lee Hsien Loong noted in a speech in 2015 that it is now more challenging to attract students and graduates to study and work in STEM sectors, even as the education system has placed strong emphasis in the subjects for the next 50 years.

    The use of influencer marketing has already been proven in the industry of branding where teaming up with the right influencers can spread your message to thousands in an effective manner, so why not the use of influencers for the STEM agenda?

    According to a Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Survey conducted in 2015, millennials have the highest levels of trust in online and online formats. Another research from a poll conducted by Harris Interactive for The Webby Awards, it showed that nearly seven in 10 millennial social users are at least somewhat influenced to purchase based on friends’ posts. Peer influence is therefore a key factor when marketing to this audience – influence millennials’ peers and you influence them.

    Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am is an avid supporter of STEM. In August 2011, will.i.am paired up with Segway founder Dean Kamen to produce a television special called “i.am.FIRST” Science is Rock and Roll.” The special was then followed up with the 20th annual FIRST Championship, a robotics competition for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The singer also promotes education with his foundation, the i.am scholarship.

    Take Emma Watson as another example. A UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, she recently gave a shout-out to a University of Waterloo scholarship programme in 2015 that awarded $288,000 to 24 female STEM students all the way till 2019.

    Now, imagine if global science company 3M or Microsoft tied up with either one of them as an ambassador.

    A much more serious topic as compared to product purchase, the use of influencers as compared to a professional talk on STEM offers the target audience a lower barrier of entry for STEM consideration as a study path, and hence career. In addition, notions that STEM is boring, and too technical, especially for girls, have been hard-wired since a long time ago.

    According to the second edition of the Mastercard Girls in Tech research, 30 percent of the 17 to 19 year-old girls surveyed said they will not choose STEM jobs despite studying STEM subjects.

    Young girls (12-19 years old) still continue to hold the perception that STEM subjects are difficult (39 percent) and that STEM careers are gender-biased. Two in five girls believe that girls are less likely to choose STEM subjects because of a perception that STEM jobs are male-dominated.

    This highlights some deeply held misconceptions by young girls and young women in regards to the study and pursuit of STEM, when in fact, STEM is able to afford women a whole world of opportunities that are currently only being scratched at the surface now.

    We believe that STEM collaborations with influencers is a viable chance for brands in sectors such as education, science and technology to not only drive the STEM conversation, and also help in breaking stereotype barriers.

    With the right influencers on board, brands will be able to reach out to millennials in a more targeted but gentler approach, and possibly translating the engagement into higher students’ affinity with STEM studies, and hence careers.

    On the whole, a win-win situation for brand, the country, and possibly for women as well.

    Banner image: http://jlmgt.org/what-is-stem-education

  • Beyond AVEs: Measuring PR Efforts Accurately

    By Mavis Ang on February 15 , 2017

    Public Relations as we know it for the past couple of decades is changing. As organisations focus on newer, better, and faster ways to work smarter, there’s a need for its Communication and Public Relations arm to not only manage its reputation, but directly contribute to the company’s objectives as well.

    This boils down to measuring the effectiveness of communication campaigns, and not just based on AVEs. By using the Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles outlined by international PR industry, we’ve simplified the framework to best capture how communications practitioners can best analyse and optimise their work.

    Measurement frameworks should cover:

    1. Goal-setting: state specific objectives

    PR campaign goals should mirror organisational objectives. Specific rather than aspirational objectives are recommended for measurement accuracy. For example, 30% increase in brand awareness instead of raise brand awareness.

    2. Channels: evaluate coverage critically

    Analysis should cover traditional and social media in paid, earned, owned and shared channels. This includes influencers if applicable. Evaluate media coverage not only based on the reach, but also which channels are most effective in amplifying interest for the client.

    3. Perception: determine outcome

    It is important to determine the campaign’s outcome based on the targeted audience, through tools such as sentiment surveys. Clients can then understand if their attitudes have changed since the launch of the communications efforts, and if their interests are piqued.

    Also, assess the strategies in detail. For example, do certain key messages garner more engagement in social media? Or does using one spokesperson over the other create more click-throughs into the campaign microsite and sign ups?

    4. Participation: observe impact

    Going back to where this all started: organisational objectives. Work with clients to ensure relevant data that can determine impact of PR activities can be retrieved. Was there a spike in sales referrals, or has attendance at its events increased? Weighing in on communications efforts this way presents an in-depth and honest analysis, enabling the team and client to build more effective campaigns in future.

    Banner image: Dawid Ma

  • Outlook for brands in 2017

    By He Lin Goh on February 03 , 2017

    Enough has been said about establishing brand personality, and finding ways to rise above the ongoing social media chatter in the last year. And before we all know it, the new year is whizzing by faster than brands can answer the question, “what do consumers want next?”

    Well, we got you covered with the top three trends that will answer the million-dollar question. Go ahead, have a chew on it as these insights are cherry-picked to build brands that matter and win love this year.

    1. Brand Betterment

    Brands that provide consumers with a platform to claim a stake in social conversations and current events, and respond with real action and in real time will stay relevant and win brand love. The social media landscape has allowed brands to reach consumers better, but also left them jaded after the 10,947,856,550th Twitter comment and Facebook video.

    A winner will be one that has the agility to complement online presence with offline campaigns to empower a current sentiment or evoke a movement for the greater good.

    Taking this up a notch, brands that engage in disruptive collaboration to solve a social issue or enable consumers to be better off, will be better, together.

    1. Put a Premium on Authenticity

    Be it Gen X-Y-or-Z, authenticity is king and we don’t need a futurist to predict that the generation after Gen Z also craves authenticity. As more brands shift to social media platforms to advertise under the guise of content, the audience is also becoming more discerning of what they consume. Paid influencers – the de-facto point of reference in the past, can only go that far to inform and influence because what is to differentiate their love for brand A from brand B. New tools of storytelling (Snapchat, IG Stories) have also proliferated the demand for authentic content.

    Look for that neighbor round the block that raves about his favorite coffee spots all year long, or that employee who has endless rants and tips to share on parenting. They are the content of now. Consumers are looking for peers whom they can trust and relate to, share experiences, and improve their own well-being.

    1. Big Data for the Individual

    Get on to the next frontier of information and make customers’ involvement count. Appetite for information will continue to grow and in 2017, consumers will be looking for real-time information about the products and services they and their peers use. More importantly, they will appreciate a brand that produces information based on their consumption, and thereby customizing the engagement journey.

    It is time to start harnessing the years of data piled up year-on-year, be it sales receipts or the type of customer enquiries / complains that are made. Analyze them by gender, by geography, by last names or any other creative psychographics close to the nature of the brand and there lies interesting facts and information that makes these data on record more valuable than a marketing research report.

    Banner image: https://unsplash.com/photos/78A265wPiO4

  • 3 Ways to Plan an Unforgettable Media Event

    By Katrina Khoe on January 31 , 2017

    For retailer clients, events are great opportunities to showcase the latest from the brands to media and key influencers. Given the multitudes of product launches and press days organized by other brands, branding practitioners are now facing the challenge of conceptualizing events that stand out and make a lasting impression.

    Recently, our consumer retail team organized a first-of-its-kind experiential event for one of our clients, Watsons Singapore. We launched some of Watsons’ newest offerings by getting our guests to experience an escape-room game where they had to solve clues pertaining to the products to unlock the room. The event garnered a lot of positive feedback, and generated notable coverage across social media platforms.

    Through our experience, here are some top tips on how to deliver a successful experiential event:

    1. Focus on your objectives

    When brainstorming for event ideas, it is important to hone in on the target audience of the event, and what objectives the event is supposed to achieve. Question what the guests of the event are supposed to walk away with, and use that as a central theme to base the event around.

    2. Plan in advance

    While this may not sound like much of a revelation, the importance of this cannot be stressed more especially when planning for larger, logistically heavier events. Generally, planning an event can be broadly categorized into three aspects: content, logistics and marketing. The most important and challenging tasks should be tackled first, and this includes booking of venues, food and other big equipment required.

    Timelines are very useful when it comes to making sure that the team is on track. Focus on the big-ticket items when they are in place, the smaller details can be better managed.

    3. Don’t be afraid to try something new

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    Image: crew.co

    Push the boundaries of what has been done and bring in fresh ideas. What has not been done before, and will still achieve the event’s objectives? Ideas are everywhere, look for inspirations beyond the client’s industry, or hold brainstorming sessions with members of different teams to get a new perspective. It is only by moving to uncharted territory can we differentiate ourselves from the clutter and create unique events that creates a long-lasting impression.

    Banner image: defiantmediagroup.com

  • Lessons from different ways of handling crises

    By Lena Soh-Ng, Eugene Chuang on January 18 , 2017

    While much has been written about the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 fiasco last year, there were many other crises worth learning from. We’ve put down some interesting insights into brands who chose different ways to deal with their crises.

    1. Disney fends off alligator crisis proactively

    In June 2016, Disney suffered from a barrage of negative coverage when an alligator killed a two-year-old boy as he played on the beach. The brand faced a high likelihood of public outrage. However, Disney’s well-strategized and proactive handling of the crises, coupled with its robust branding as a provider of family-friendly fun helped it weather the storm.

    Here are some of the things it did:
    – Temporarily closed all its resort beaches.
    – Broke from previous traditions to ‘clam up and clean up’: The organization swiftly issued heartfelt expressions from its executives, including personalized messages from Disney CEO Bob Iger and President George A. Kalogridis empathising with the public as a father and grandfather.
    – Thoroughly reviewed signage policy and immediately posted relevant signing to warn visitors of alligators.
    – Compensated guests with free rooms worth about USD$560 a night. This cost the company nearly half a million US dollars.
    – Exterminated five alligators in the waters near the resort.

    Disney’s ability to fend off the crises could also be attributed to the goodwill that it has built up over the years as a family friendly resort. This allowed the public to move on.

    2. Tolberone has not prepared customers on shape change

    I love Tolberone chocs! The triangle-shaped bar have always fascinated me. Late last year however, the brand made a controversial decision that its fans did not expect – changing the shape of the chocolate bars by widening the gaps between triangles.

    Understandably, a furore of public anger ensued when consumers found out they were getting less for the same price.

    – Tolberone’s social media pages were flooded by outbursts of passionate fans with many criticising the change as “stupid” and “ridiculous”.
    – Reddit had a dedicated page inviting visitors who poured out their unhappiness.
    – The story was ranked as the most read news piece of the day on BBC Online, gaining more attention than the day of the US 2016 elections.
    – The change was also hilariously adapted into several memes which was shared like wildfire online.

    Citing higher costs for numerous ingredients, Tolberone’s statement defending the decision added fuel to the fire. Many felt that Tolberone should have communicated the change months before introducing the new bars, rather than issuing a statement after the controversy had erupted.

    Arguably, the Tolberone change left a sour aftertaste.

    3. Marina Bay Sands Singapore puts rights above reputation

    In November 2016, Marina Bay Sands Singapore (MBS) sparked a controversial debate about whether a company should honour mispricing incidents.

    To recap: a glitch in the MBS’s website allowed visitors to book five star rooms at SGD$70 per night, a rate too good to be true. Realizing the error and instead of keeping to agreed contracts, the hotel emailed guests to offer the same rooms at $450 per night with a $100 credit on their final bill as a gesture of goodwill. This move prompted several one-star reviews on the hotel’s Facebook page.

    During the crisis, MBS emphasized its’ right to correct the rate or cancel a reservation in the event of an incorrect posting, pointing out that the its booking terms included a protective clause regarding incorrectly posted rates. The controversy also involved the consumer watchdog Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE), indicating that while MBS had every right to not honour the mispricing, consumers could negotiate for an amicable resolution since the booking confirmation was received by the customer.

    This is a stark contrast to how Singapore Airlines (SIA) handled its mispricing incident in December 2014, which allowed 400 Australia-based passengers to book business class seats at economy-class prices. The mistake cost the airline a whopping A$2,500 loss per ticket, but SIA honoured the affected bookings. Like MBS’s situation, it was well within SIA’s rights to demand full payment for the seats. However, this decision gets my thumbs up as SIA maintains its reputation as “A Great Way to Fly”.

    Banner image: stocksnap.io

  • Huntington's Managing Partner, Lena Soh, named Chairman of PROI Asia-Pacific Crisis Group

    By Huntington Communications on January 12 , 2017

    Print

    PROI Worldwide Strengthens Global Crisis Team; Appoints Regional Crisis Group

    Chairmen and Vice Chairmen Caroline Duffy to Chair the Americas; Marcel Trachsel to Chair EMEA; Lena Soh to Chair Asia-Pacific

    PROI Worldwide today announced the appointment of six new executives to extend global crisis communications best practices for clients around the globe. With more than 70 agencies across five continents, PROI Worldwide is the world’s largest partnership of independent agencies with more than 5,000 staff servicing 6,300+ clients worldwide and 2015 net fee income of US$ 702+ million.

    “The PROI Worldwide global crisis leadership team gives clients and potential clients a level of experience in crisis communications that is second to none around the world”, said Richard Tsang, Global Chairman, PROI Worldwide. “Together our teams have handled challenging issues for clients across regions and around the world such as accident and disaster response, workplace injuries and deaths, reorganizations, mergers and acquisitions, in addition to criminal investigations, investor relations and labor issues. Time is the key to responding to a crisis and our global team responds 24 hours a day, no matter where a crisis may happen around the world.”

    Caroline Duffy, a founding partner of Jackson Spalding, PROI-Atlanta, was named Chairman of the Americas Crisis Group, which includes agencies across North America, Central America and South America. Andy Likes, senior vice president for The Vandiver Group, PROI-St. Louis, was named the Vice-Chairman of the Americas Crisis Group.

    Marcel Trachsel, managing partner of int/ext Communications, PROI-Switzerland, was named Chairman of the EMEA Crisis Group, which includes agencies across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Tobias Muller, managing partner for Klenk and Hoursch, PROI-Germany, was named ViceChairman of the EMEA Crisis Group.

    Lena Soh, managing partner for Huntington Communications, PROI-Singapore, was named Chairman of the Asia-Pacific Crisis Group, which encompasses agencies throughout China, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Singapore, The Philippines and the entire Far East. Neil Green, Chief Executive Officer for SenateSHJ, PROI-Australia & New Zealand was named Vice-Chairman of the Asia-Pacific Crisis Group

    PROI Worldwide, the world’s largest partnership of integrated independent communications agencies founded in Europe in 1970, has offices in more than 110 cities in 50+ countries, with 75 leading independent integrated communications partner companies and more than 5,000 staff servicing 6,300+ clients worldwide. PROI Worldwide’s combined fee turnover of its partner agencies exceeds US $702,000,000, positioning it as the 6th- largest communications company in the world by net fee income.

    Banner image: stocksnap.io 

  • Our Digital Resolutions for 2017

    By BlessAnn Luah on January 04 , 2017

    Happy new year from all of us at Huntington! With every brand new year, we look to do a bit of spring cleaning at home, throw out old stuff, rediscover gems we almost forgot about and make space for the new.

    Applying the same introspective mind-set towards our agency’s skill sets, here’s three digital resolutions for 2017!

    Be more relevant

    More than 92% of marketers collect data at ever-increasing touchpoints, but 40% barely know what to do with it and are not able to draw insights. In 2017, we look to deepen consumer analysis to drive direct application in our work.

    With that, brand measurement is evolving too. To better support ROI, new measurement standards has to be redefined to allow reach and engagement to be meaningfully compared across various social media platforms.

    Quality over Quantity

    If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a thousand pictures, or some might argue precisely 1.8 million words. More businesses will move to adopt video as the new normal in branding and customer relations.

    Let’s also face it – Hundreds of posts of thin content don’t make you look good. Period. Instead, focus on creating better quality, original content that boosts a positive user experience.

    Authenticity

    In a world where everyone is wary of ad fraud, 2017 will see a rise of micro-influencers to build brand authenticity. These influencers have high engagement in niche verticals that will be able to able to generate more organic and engagement content when utilized in mass quantities.

    In upcoming collaborations, how do we best leverage on influencers to co-create content instead of just posting another pretty photo with the brand hashtag?

    Banner image:garyvaynerchuk.com

  • Fresh grad to PR pro: 3 ways to make the jump

    By Charmaine Lau on December 28 , 2016

    As a fresh graduate new to the working world, I was rather confused about the first steps to take into this phase of my life. Three months after my official graduation, I landed my first interview which turned out to be my first job at a PR agency. And yes, you guessed it, it is Huntington Communications (how I found the job though, is another story altogether).

    Despite being a marketing and corporate communications major, entering a PR agency was venturing into completely new territory I haven’t had any prior experience in the industry nor had I even done a relevant internship before. It was scary and uncertain, yet at the same time, the unpredictability bred excitement and anticipation.

    Now, two months into the job, I’ve (more or less) settled down and gotten a better picture of the PR landscape. For all those considering entering the industry, I’ve got three tips for you.

    Get organised

    Just into my first week, I realised that I would be handling multiple clients and juggling an uncountable number of tasks. Okay, I exaggerate. Seriously though, the work can get crazy at times!

    PR takes multi-tasking to a whole new level and as a newbie, it’s likely that you’ll start feeling overwhelmed with the number of tasks and deadlines assigned to you. As such, it’s really important to get organised and start making notes. Head down to your local bookstore and grab a trusty notebook that you adore as you’ll be stuck with it for the rest of your PR journey!

    By having a checklist of sorts, it becomes much easier to manage whatever’s on your plate and make sure you’re always on track. Sure can’t deny that fact that it also feels super good to be manually checking those tasks off your list!

    Be prepared to work hard

    Things can get hectic especially during peak periods when you have four consecutive events in a week. Trust me, I know! You’ll be putting in those extra hours and running around trying to get everything in place, and yes, it is hard work. That being said, PR can be extremely rewarding as well, especially after a successful event. Just be sure to give your best shot in everything you do and you should be fine!

    Enjoy the journey  

    The PR life can be exciting because no two days are alike. One day you might be churning out reports and crunching numbers, another day you might be out till midnight at a client’s event party. Whatever activity it is, there is always a lesson to take away. For me, media exposure at events has definitely allowed me to hone my people skills and learn how to better network with industry players. On the other hand, dealing with numbers, something I usually try to avoid, has made me more meticulous and analytical.

    At the end of the day, the most important thing in a career is to enjoy the process. Cliche as it may sound, the reality is that many of us actually get so caught up with the day-to-day work that we stop having fun. Remember to take breaks to recharge when necessary and most importantly, to always find joy and purpose in your work, the two things that make for a fulfilling experience.

    Banner image:Cyber PR

  • Trump's Winning Campaign

    By Eugene Chuang on December 15 , 2016

    Mr Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States.

    Love him or hate him, Trump’s mastery of communication has many lessons for the industry. Let’s look at how the president-elect sold himself purely from a marketing standpoint.

    Simpler language resonates

    Studies show that the human brain does not have time for complex facts and figures. So, as branding practitioners, we keep words simple and sentences succinct. Given the target audience, Trump’s choice of words and sentence structure were key in shaping his relatable and non-elitist image.

    The man seldom uses words more than three syllables long and has a love for crude words like ‘bigly’ to get his message across efficiently (yes, bigly is a word in the dictionary). Trump takes it one step further by sacrificing proper sentence structure in verbal communication. A good example is his interview with prominent night show host Jimmy Kimmel earlier this year on a controversial proposal (watch till 1:40 when Jimmy interrupts).

    https://youtube.com/watch?v=Sqhg2FNzKHM%23t%3D38

    Watched it? Here’s a breakdown:

    1. Trump responded in 220 words
    2. 78% of the words were one syllable long
    3. 17% were two syllables long
    4. Only four words were four syllables long and temporary was shortened to tem-pry.
    5. Strange sentence structure was used, but you probably didn’t notice it

    Did he answer the question? Maybe not. But to the man on the street, it didn’t matter if Trump’s response made little sense. In the end, simpler language resonates.

    Winning words, winning taglines

    We need to be tougher. We need to be stronger. We need to build a wall. We don’t win anymore. Drain the swamp. Lock her up. Make America Great Again.

    If one was asked to recall a tagline from Trump’s campaign, it will probably be one of these.

    Repeating and going back to key messages are a key part of public communication, and Trump is adept at this. During a rally speech in Denver, Colorado, the real estate mogul repeated the word win times in 90 seconds. This might sound silly but it’s effective. It is also the reason many companies use jingles. The human mind doesn’t consciously know how it forms an opinion, but once an opinion is seeded, the mind tends to defend it, regardless of how it got there.

    The slogan “Make America Great Again” was well crafted. It evoked feelings of nostalgia among Americans and was among the most highly trending hashtags in social media. Hillary’s branding paled in comparison. Her campaign “Stronger Together” tagline was strikingly similar to the “Stronger In” slogan used by the Remain campaign in the Brexit referendum. Her hashtag #ImWithHer appeared self-centred and Trump’s campaign simply countered it with #HesWithYou.

    Trump also picked apart his opponents by branding them exactly how they don’t want to be seen. Weak Jeb, Lyin’ Ted, Little Marco, Crooked Hillary, Trump often repeated these phrases on air. While name-calling seems juvenile, they were effective in throwing his opponents into disrepute. Better yet, Trump’s supporters started adopting these names as their own, effectively putting the final nail in the coffin for the political aspirations of his rivals.

    Harnessing negative emotions

    Fear is an incredibly powerful and raw emotion. It captures our attention and shuts down higher thinking as we focus on protecting ourselves. Creaking noises at night might lead us to think that paranormal activity, rather than the wind, is the culprit. Likewise, Trump’s claim that Mexicans crossing the border are bringing crime might not necessarily be true, but it evokes a degree of fear in the hearts of his listeners. This is why fear ads are widely adopted to highlight social issues such as gambling, smoking, and domestic violence.

    Another emotion is anger. When Trump says that China is taking jobs, or when the US doesn’t win in trade, he’s forcing the listener to make a choice. You are being anti-American when you disagree with him, even if it doesn’t make any statistical sense.

    A point for reflection

    Trump and his team executed one of the greatest political PR movements in recent years. No matter who we support, humans are irrational and emotional decision makers and the right mix of communication tactics is key to a winning campaign. When we understand this, we can better influence others.

  • We could be content celebrities in 15 minutes, if we know how.

    By Helin Goh on June 29 , 2016

    IMAGE: FACEBOOK/MARK ZUCKERBERG

    The Chewbacca lady just got herself made into a figurine, courtesy of Hasbro. If you are not one of the 130 million Facebook users who made her a viral star and the record holder of the most viewed Facebook Live video, play catch up here.

    We see too many incidences of such content become king online. From exploding watermelons to the badly photoshopped image of Seve Gats at the Great Wall of China, driving a #whereisSeveGats campaign.

    What did they do right? I am sure many brands who have invested time and millions of sales dollars trying to emulate that kind of virality, but failed, are asking the same question.

    To figure this out, a good start would be to understand how Buzzfeed, led by Jonah Peretti, grew to become a brand every media wants to imitate. The focus of our company is to really understand the social web and how it’s changing, and then make media for the way people consume it today.

    Very often, brands do not realize that the social web is not (and should not be) yet another sales medium. It is about an ongoing engagement with a tribe who loves the brand for the way it speaks their language and give them entertainment, information and inspiration – very possibly in that running order too for now. Brands need to also accept the fact that there isn’t an end-all formula to this algorithm mix; it is just one continuous now.

    While we marvel at the success of these content celebrities, the reality is we are closer to becoming one ourselves more than we thought. If you have a website, or a Facebook page or any kind of social media platform, consider yourself already a content publisher. Start acting like one by creating in-the-moment coverage that is entertaining, inspiring and honestly empathetic to the needs of the audience. Engagement will follow when you are looking at the world through their eyes, not yours.

    In an era where people rather pay for a subscription app to find out what Kendall Jenner is doing than spend on a copy of Vogue, it makes a whole lot more sense to cultivate our own media platforms to stardom.

  • How PR can boost brand marketing

    By Crenshaw Communications on June 02 , 2016

    Repost from Crenshaw Communications, a PROI partner

    Although they’re sometimes confused, marketing and public relations are very distinct. Marketing builds brands by communicating directly to the customer, while PR drives reputation through third-party endorsement, among other techniques. But in the ideal world, the two work together and reinforce one another to reach business goals.

    The visibility generated from a smart PR program can enable a B2C brand to move into the consideration set in a shopper’s mind, or help fill the funnel for a B2B company offering products or business services. The results of earned media coverage in top-tier media may lack the scale or reach of paid advertising, but they’re like fuel for the marketing engine. Here are my five Rs of PR and a few reasons why PR and marketing can and should work together.

    Reputation. Paid media and direct marketing are powerful ways of communicating brand benefits. But the third-party endorsement that comes from earned media creates a type of credibility that marketing typically can’t generate. A reputation driven by credible customer reviews, industry awards, and media features about an organization or its product can be harnessed for marketing campaigns where PR and marketing truly work in concert. Again, it’s fuel for direct marketing and paid media efforts.

    Recognition. Positive brand visibility helps build familiarity and trust, and it can be accomplished in many ways. In its early days, Starbucks actually based its marketing on its own storefronts rather than paid advertising. Our stores are our billboards, said CEO Howard Schultz, and he was right. Other brands create exposure with subversive ad messages or clever promotional offers. But the buzz that comes from word-of-mouth (or its digital equivalent) by influential people, favorable mentions in the press, or positive social media posts is often the outcome of pure PR.

    Resonance. The practice of public relations got a big boost several years ago when Google changed its algorithm to reward mentions in high-authority domains. It meant that earned media stories and relevant branded content are likely to place higher on internet searches. So by resonance i’m referring to a brand that will move to the top of the search queue by virtue of its inclusion in content from trusted sources (like well-known media brands) as well as shareable content on popular social networks.

    Reach. In my experience, the earned media results of a media relations campaign will fall short of paid media or direct-marketing when it comes to reach. We offer quality over quantity. Yet, when earned media is amplified through paid efforts. content syndication, or social media advertising, for example it’s a powerful boost for both. Even a modest budget can extend the reach of earned media or guest posts with impressive results through simple tactics like sponsored posts or syndication.

    Return-on-Investment. The ROI of public relations has historically been difficult to define, particularly when it’s used as it should be with other marketing and promotional techniques. This is why the PR industry introduced revised principles for evaluating PR outcomes. Our point of view is summarized in a recent post about the latest industry thinking, combined with practical ways to set KPIs for what PR does best. In short, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula, but with pre-PR benchmarking, and a modest budget allocated for analytics and message analysis, public relations and marketing can work together in ways that neither is likely to do alone.

  • A day in the life of a PR intern

    By Genevieve Tan on May 26 , 2016

    Hi everyone! I’m Genevieve, Huntington Communication’s most recent intern. I’ve been at HC for three weeks so far. At first glance you may be wondering, it has barely been a month – do you even have any content to write about at all?? Or like most of my peers who often warn that I will be spending a lot of time buying coffee for the office, I assure you it is not the case.

    I’ve been fortunate enough to experience a whole lot more than just putting together media clippings and reports. After the first three days, I found myself sitting in for meetings, working on presentation decks, concept sheets and drafting press release materials (amongst many other things!).

    Immediately in my first week, I noticed one thing in particular that the team at HC had in common – everyone is a foodie. I still remember Bless and Shafina sharing with me on my first day that the team will probably bring me around to try all sorts of cuisine for lunch, and I truly have not been disappointed.

    IMG_2016-05-26 16:22:16IMG_2016-05-26 16:22:25

    The yummiest Thai-style roasted beef tortilla wrap I’ve had (and its only a street away from Trivex! (top) and on days where there is a need to run errands (#internduties), we indulge in some chirashi goodness (bottom).

    Also being somewhat reliant on caffeine (I largely blame it on college), I was determined to find the best coffee joint that’ll help me through the rest of my time at HC. After a caffeine fuelled week, I’m proud to report that my efforts have not been for naught. Things were looking good.

    IMG_2016-05-26 16:22:31

    Friendly bilingual staff and coffee that packs a punch – what’s there not to love?

    I’m quite certain that at the onset of one’s PR career (and also after binge watching the Sex and The City series by the season), you’d envisioned it to be similar to the lifestyle Samantha Jones lived – sipping bubbly, always being dressed to the nines, and of course, making sure that all loose ends are tied together nicely.

    While this idea of PR may not be entirely inaccurate, I’m pretty sure that somewhere along the way, people seem to forget that the life of a PR practitioner isn’t all that glitzy and glamorous. Often times, they come to work earlier than most, and they also leave later than most. Simply put, they hustle – all the time, placing the satisfaction of clients at the top of their list.

    Whenever I meet up with schoolmates for our customary internship-period dinners, or even when I’m lounging around with my family, I often receive plenty of oohs and ahhs whenever I share with them my day-to-day experience as an intern at HC.

    Its often during these moments that I realize I’ve been fortunate enough to have had my first ever internship at HC, and for having met such a fun-loving and encouraging team, guiding Zoe (intern #1) and I whenever we have questions or when we’ve stumbled upon roadblocks. It has been a great experience so far, being given the opportunity to share my ideas with the team and working on actual projects with our clients – opportunities that not many are given.

    With about 12 weeks left of my stint at HC, I am excited to tackle more projects, to dabble with a wider range of industries, to try more yummy food, and also come out of this internship  knowing that I’ve hustled, and that I’ve gained a world of experience while I’m at it.

  • Quality vs Quantity - What works best for Media Placements?

    By WalkerSands Communications on April 06 , 2016

    Repost from Walker Sands, a PROI partner

    At Walker Sands, we’re big fans of using data-driven PR to get our clients great results. Across all of our practice areas, every client can use surveys and data to tell compelling stories that align with their larger business goals and position them as thought leaders in their industry. Even when our clients studies aren’t as successful as we expected, it presents a challenge of turning that data into something newsworthy. Earning a data study placement is kind of like eating a Dove dark chocolate, once you have one, you need at least three more to feel satisfied.

    Media-Placement-630x358

     

    It’s easy to become placement hungry in media relations. But who’s to say earning 10 small placements in a given month is more impressive than one high-quality, top-tier placement?

    In my experience, both answers can be correct. When clients kick off a PR program, they usually determine a target number of placements per month. While we’re always on the lookout to get clients both quality and quality placements, different clients prefer different outcomes. Ultimately, the client themselves must decide what will best help them meet their company goals.

    Quantity

    If a client is looking to drive a large number of leads, racking up placements every month might be the solution they’re looking for. In this case, hitting trade publications might be more of a priority than larger pubs like the New York Times or TechCrunch.

    This doesn’t mean that trade placements are considered low-quality by any means for a marketing technology client, for example, landing a placement in Direct Marketing News or Marketing Land is considered a big win. In some cases, too, a placement is just as hard to earn as something in the Wall Street Journal. Because trade publication reporters are somewhat more accessible than reporters at larger pubs, there are more opportunities to develop strong reporter relationships that benefit our clients. Placements in trades are great because, although their audiences are smaller, they are often more targeted than a big pub, allowing clients to drive quality leads.

    Quality

    While raking in hundreds of placements in a given year is remarkable feat any PR pro should be proud of, sometimes a few high quality placements go further than a bunch of smaller ones. If a client’s top priority is building brand awareness, a handful of top-tier placements that tie in their messaging to a larger trend might be the right goal to aim for.

    Securing these kind of placements, however, can take more effort than others. Corresponding back and forth with a reporter for one story in a given week can take up as much time as standard media outreach, and when working with several different clients, a PR folks time is precious. Pursuing a top-tier feature or trend story may mean sacrificing thought leadership pitching or newsjacking one week to keep workloads balanced, but this can be the right choice to achieve certain business goals.

    At Walker Sands, we strive to give our clients a balance of both quality and quantity placements every single month. Choosing one strategy over another may not be realistic, but with a true understanding of a client’s goals, any PR pro can determine what the best course of action is. Our strong relationships with our clients give us the flexibility to create tailored programs that can change throughout our partnerships based on need.

    Being placement hungry isn’t always a bad strategy, but it may not always be the right one.

  • Nail that Style: Solvil et Titus

    By BlessAnn Luah on March 14 , 2016

    Solvil et Titus is a brand etched in love and romance, and which girl wouldn’t fall head over heels over a brand story like that? The established watchmaker launched three new His & Her’s collection recently and we wanted to pamper some of our blogger friends by arranging for a manicure session!

    sydney

    We had a fun girly evening with some of the fashion influencers catching up, doing our nails while sharing with the ladies some of the latest timepieces from Solvil et Titus. Here are some snapshots from the event!

    mono bloggers

    12801238_889638041134727_5227706030796462702_n
    This time, we customized nail art designs to suit Solvil et Titus’s newly launched watches. Our blogger friends could choose their favourite watch and couple it with a matching makeover for their nails. Here are some of the results!

    white watch close up

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    Our event was held at Lacquer and Spa in MBS. We loved its classic black and white decor which allowed the watches to naturally stand out. Plus, the owner was a joy to work with!

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    12764435_889637281134803_8308012313348248651_o

    When meeting our blogger friends, the team has to make sure we’re well-prepped for every situation! Bring along useful props for your events, check the lighting, flash your mega-watt smiles and a pretty dessert table always does the trick 😉

    white watch

    food

    Curious about the coverage we received from the event? Then check out some of the posts from our bloggers below.

    Quick shoutout to those who are tempted to shop for some new wrist-candy, shop now at Solvil et Titus’s e-store here.

  • 5 Ways PR Can Maximize Thought Leadership

    By Crenshaw Communications on February 24 , 2016

    Repost from Crenshaw Communications, partner of PROI

    In the public relations world, thought leadership is a big deal, but the term can start to feel old, fast. How do you infuse a thought leadership program with fresh ideas and get the most out of it for PR?

    Thought leaders are often defined as the leading authorities in their field of mastery and opinion. On top of strong expertise and visibility, it’s about being able to motivate, provide insight, and influence others. For many who work in specialized niches, like B2B technology or high-end interior design, thought leadership is highly desirable, helping to improve a brand’s reputation and even its bottom line.

    Here are some essentials worth considering when looking to maximize a thought leadership program.

    Be strategic with bylines.
    Byline articles or essays on an issue or topic, carrying a byline, that are pitched and placed for publication in media are often a core of a thought leadership program. But these pieces pack more punch when timed strategically within a company’s overall PR efforts. For example, if your B2B PR plan includes a new product launch in email marketing software, it pays to push that piece on new best practices for email marketing a week or so after the product launch, when the buzz is still fresh and interest and engagement is likely to be higher.

    Collaborate on ideas for written pieces.
    Collaboration is key to crafting the most high-impact written pieces, whether bylines or speeches or messaging for a website. As the expert, you have the authority on what’s most current in the field, but working collaboratively with your PR partners will ensure the angle or narrative is most relevant and media-friendly. And needless to say, a byline in a relevant industry publication is a great complement, and in some ways works harder than, your own blog post.

    Host an intimate, high-impact panel.
    This is the ultimate way to own the conversation and control the message, since you’re the host of the entire event. Focus a panel discussion on the topic closest to your heart, to showcase the depth of your expertise and invite coverage. Be sure to document everything. Your PR team can then turn the assets into byline articles and white papers after the fact, in addition to generating media coverage, as we did here for a client after a successful event.

    Be selective about speaking engagements.
    Once a baseline level of expertise and visibility is achieved, you can expect inbound requests for speaking engagements to start coming your way. It can be tempting to say yes to everything, but we see speaker fatigue setting in quickly among thought leaders, leading to diminished value for the time invested. The key isn’t in numbers, it’s in speaking to the right audiences, a key question PR likes to keep top of mind.

    Write the book.
    Not everyone has the material to write a book, but if you do, publishing a book has never been easier than it is now, especially if you’re open to self-publishing. Among other advantages, being the author of a new book is a calling card PR can use to create fresh media opportunities.

    When executing a thought leadership plan, it’s important to keep expectations reasonable, so no one’s disappointed, but by all means, have a vision and focus, and challenge yourself to live up to it.

  • Huntington's Run For Hope 2014 campaign recognized at international PR Awards

    By Eugene Chuang on February 04 , 2016

    Huntington Communications and Four Seasons Hotel’s Run For Hope 2014 project has again received recognition – this time at the international Asia-Pacific Excellence Awards. The campaign was among six others shortlisted in the ‘Non-Governmental Organisations’ category.

    Shortlist_AP

    Run For Hope, a run which raises awareness for cancer research, became Singapore’s largest cancer-related run with 11,000 runners in 2014, with 40% more participants than other cancer-related runs in the same year. A total of S$440,000 was raised towards cancer research that year.

    The run stood out among 100 running events by creating a personal connection with a focus on survivor stories, involving celebrity ambassadors for the first time, and use of social media.

    Lena Soh, Senior Partner of Huntington Communications, said: It’s great that we are making a direct impact through the advancement of cancer research, and influencing a positive behavioural change among the public.”

    The National Cancer Centre of Singapore, one of our official partners for the run, is seeing an increase in survival rates over the recent years due to greater awareness on the importance of cancer screening, keeping healthy lifestyles, and the better understanding of the disease through in-depth research work.

    The run has also given our participants a platform to express their commitment to their loved ones who suffered from cancer.

    The team at Huntington is glad to see our work being acknowledged at an international level, she concluded.

    The Asia Pacific Excellence Award is the second accolade that Run For Hope 2014 project has earned. The campaign also won the PRISM Award (Merit) for Outstanding Campaign by a NGO by Institute of Public Relations of Singapore in 2015.

    Asia-Pacific Excellence Awards 2015 is part of the worldwide Excellence Awards competition. This year’s Awards have attracted over 2,600 applications around the globe.

    You can view the full list of winners and nominees online at: http://ap.excellence-awards.com/ap/winnerlist-2015/

  • Run For Hope 2016 Running For A Cancer-Free Tomorrow

    By Shafina Jaffar on February 01 , 2016

    Close to 10,000 participants including Team Singapore athletes ran alongside cancer survivors at Run For Hope 2016. The 23rd Run For Hope event is the longest running cancer fund-raiser in Singapore which has so far garnered over $2.5 million for cancer research at National Cancer Centre Singapore. Guest-of-Honour Mr Chee Hong Tat, Minister of State for Health and Communications and Information, flagged off the 10km run and later took part in the 3.5km to show his support.

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    Leading the Way in the Fight against Cancer

    Mr Sunil Narang, Chairman for Run For Hope 2016 and Hotel Manager of Four Seasons Hotel Singapore said: “In Singapore, more than 12,000 cancer cases have been diagnosed each year. Each of us has a personal story linked to either a cancer survivor, or someone fighting the cancer battle. In getting runners to dedicate their run to a loved one, we hope to personalise the cause for each participant. Proceeds from the run go towards doctors and researchers conducting trials and studies to develop new findings in this field.”

    Rousing Support from Cancer Survivors and Celebrity Ambassadors

    This year, the Run has garnered a record number of supporters with 17 cancer survivors and celebrity ambassadors. Team Singapore athletes joined Run For Hope for the first time in the 3.5km category. The cancer cause hit close to home for Michelle Sng, when she lost her father to colorectal cancer last year. She was joined by her athletics teammates Shanti Pereira, Dipna Lim Prasad, Calvin Kang, Muhammad Amiruddin Jamal, and swimmer Danny Yeo.

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    Popular theatre actresses Dim Sum Dollies have joined the cause this year, in memory of one of the founding Dollies – Emma Yong, who succumbed to stomach cancer in 2014. The Dim Sum Dollies who also hosted the run, were joined by celebrities such as Stephanie Carrington and Paul Foster, both of whom have a family history of cancer and have lost loved ones to the disease. Actress and Symphony 92.4FM DJ, Koh Chieng Mun, also joined the run to show her support for the cause. She had a personal brush with breast and kidney cancers in 2005.

    Cancer Survivors Join the Cause

    Amongst the cancer survivors are 39-year-old SEA Games Equestrian trainer, Laura Richardson, who recently overcame stage 3 breast cancer; 43-year old Vivien Khoo, who recovered from thyroid and breast cancer; and 30-year old Roy Tan, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. Roy drew strength from his twin brother’s own battle with lymphoma to beat the disease. The youngest survivor ambassador is 20-year-old Cristalle Wang, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when she was 15.

    Cristalle pipped in with a note of encouragement, “To the young ones who are fighting cancer now, the battle may be long and hard but keep on fighting! The painful scars left behind will be the biggest source of inspiration for yourself and the ones around you.”

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  • Fathering through the Generations with the Centre For Fathering

    By Eugene Chuang on January 18 , 2016

    Towards the end of 2015, Huntington produced a three-part video series on fathering titled ‘From Generation to Generation’ for the Centre For Fathering and Dads For Life. In each video, fathers and their children shared what fathering means to them, and their joys and challenges as a family.

    You can view the videos below.

     

  • Effective public speeches: a guide on nonverbal communication

    By M2.0 Communications on January 21 , 2016

    Repost from M2.0 Communications, partner of PROI

    Those who practice public relations are very well aware that the way something is said is just as important as the contents of what is said. While leaders have to be conscious of the words they use, they too have to be conscious of what their body communicates in every occasion. For a presidential candidate, the occasion might require a speech about his platform. There might be instances wherein he has to face opponents in a public debate and be interviewed, or possibly grilled, by the media.

    Proper Attire 

    For those in the corporate world, the occasion could be a pitch for an account you are trying to win. It could be a presentation to your bosses, or an
    important event for the company or a client.

    In all these instances, body posture, facial expressions, gestures, and even how space is used can reinforce the points you are making. They can project confidence and power, or give away your uncertainties and the things you are trying to hide.

    Here are a few tips for making meaningful and powerful nonverbal communication when delivering important speeches:

    1. Dress appropriately and look presentable

    At first glance, a member of the audience can judge your credibility based on how you dress. A shabby appearance can tarnish your credibility in an instant. Dressing inappropriately is an indication that you do not know what you are getting into.

    Your choice of outfit should depend on the event. In formal gatherings, audiences often think that those wearing darker clothing look more trustworthy and respectable. Clothes in lighter or brighter colors can work in less formal occasions, but they can also help you stand out especially when addressing large crowds.

    2. Vary your use of voice

    Aside from being another indicator of credibility, the quality of your voice can have a certain impact on the crowd. Most people find deep voices more attractive compared with voices that sound shrill or high-pitched.

    We’d love to have a voice like Morgan Freeman’s, but not everyone was born with that gift. However, there are vocalization and breathing exercises that can help you achieve a lower, deeper voice.

    Delivering lines also calls for the need to vary the tone, pace, and pitch of your voice to keep the audience engaged. One of the last things an audience wants to hear is a monotonous speech with an obvious pattern.

    3. Look at your audience

    When we were first taught to read aloud in class, we were taught to look at the audience once in a while. Your eyes tell your listeners that you are talking to them, not at them. Additionally, though it is important to look at different members of your audience, moving your eyes too much can make you seem distracted. Eyes also convey emotion and help you connect with the audience better.

    When delivering a speech, you can direct a phrase or sentence with your eyes to a specific part of your audience who you think can relate to those specific words. By looking at your audience meaningfully, your message has a better chance of striking the heart.

    4. Maximize the power of your hands and arms

    The way you move your arms and hands can help you emphasize points, convey a sense of power, and magnifying your presence. As gestures convey different types of messages, it is advantageous for a public speaker to know which ones to use, and which ones to avoid.

    For example, pointing a finger or closing your fist sends an aggressive message, and you should be careful not to direct that aggression towards your audience. Crossing your arms is also ill-advised because it puts you on a defensive stance. By opening your arms, you make yourself look approachable. If you would like to point to your audience, it is better to do so with an open palm instead of pointing at them with a finger.

    Now that you know which nonverbal cues you should be aware, here are a few more reminders you might find useful for your next speech.

    First, always be prepared. Take the time to rehearse your delivery, but do not deliver your message in a way that makes you look robotic or unnatural. Second, be sincere. When you mean what you say, your body becomes attuned to your speech and is able to communicate more effectively.

     

  • 7 Content Marketing Trends To Watch In 2016

    By Julie Ellis, Chief Editor, PremierEssay on January 15 , 2016

    Repost from Social Media Week

    The end of 2015 is approaching quickly, and now is a great time to think about what is coming down the pike in 2016 where social media marketing is concerned. As marketing directors are busily designing their strategies for 2016, they must consider the marketing trends that are going to have the biggest impact on their efforts. It looks as if 2016 will bring in a mix of new trends along with the continuation of some trends that began in 2015.

    If you are in the midst of developing your social media marketing strategy for next year, why not take a moment to review these 7 social media marketing trends to watch in 2016.

    1. Mobile First Will Become the Norm

    This forecast shows the number of smartphone users in the U.S. from 2010 to 2018. For 2016, the number of smartphone users in the United States is estimated to reach 198.5 million. Source

    Until recently, content, app, and web development strategy has focused primarily on the needs of the desktop user with mobile being an afterthought. In 2015, there was a noticeable shift in this line of thinking with many companies moving towards a mobile first mindset. This shift was largely due in part to the sharp increase in the number of mobile users, and the increasing amount of mobile visitors to websites. More mobile users than ever, are using their devices to:

    • Browse Social Media
    • Access News and Entertainment
    • Research Products and Make Purchases
    • Use Navigational Apps
    • Communicate with Others
    • View Visual Content Including Videos
    • Post Comments and Reviews

    This will only increase in 2016, making it a near impossibility for marketing strategists to avoid focusing on mobile next year, especially touchscreen.

    2. There Will be a Focus Shift in SEO to Social Media

    There is a slowly developing change in user behavior when it comes to searching out information on products and services. While using search engines to find information is still the most common behavior, there are many users who are skipping the search engine and performing their searches directly on social media.

    There are a couple of different reasons that this happening. First, consumers know that they are more likely to find visual content if they search on social media, and to them, this content is far more trustworthy than text heavy content.

    The other reason is that consumers value feedback from others, and they know they are more likely to find reviews and comments on social media content than they will in other places. This means that marketing strategy must move beyond How can I get found on Google? toHow can I get found on Google and social?

    3. Facebook will Dominate However Their Audience Will be Older

    I’ll start off by saying that any suggestion that Facebook is losing relevance is entirely false. As long as Facebook continues adding new functionality and tightening up security, it will remain the dominant social media platform for the near future. In fact, one of Facebook’s innovations is the driving factor behind one of our social media marketing trends for next year (more on that later).

    Having said that, it must be acknowledged that younger consumers are tending to use other social media platforms to interact with one another and consume content. For some brands, this change will have little to no impact on their marketing strategies. For others, however, this could be a deciding in factor in whether or not they should focus on other social media platforms, especially those focused on students.

    4. Digital Marketing Efforts will Increase on Newer Social Media Sites

    As mentioned above, the aging of the Facebook audience is one factor driving this change. However, it is not the only factor. Until recently Snapchat and Instagram have been regarded as mediums for users to communicate with one another and to share personal content. Most marketing directors didn’t see either platform as a viable place for their content marketing efforts, especially when it has been so lucrative to focus on more established platforms such as YouTube and Facebook. This will change quickly as we move into 2016.

    Instagram is now providing advertising opportunities to a wider circle of brands, and the Snapchat Story is already proving to be a great branding tool. Moving into the future, it is likely that marketers will be less timid when it comes to marketing on new platforms.

    5. New Options for Publishing Content Online Will Open up Thanks to Instant Articles

    In quarter one of this year, Facebook launched Instant Articles. This technology allows publishers to instantly and constantly publish streaming content to Facebook. Essentially, the company’s content management system interfaces directly with Facebook and can seamlessly publish new content as it is ready for release.

    When instant articles launched, it was limited to nine major publishers including the New York Times, NBC News, and BuzzFeed. Since that time, other big publishing houses have been invited into the fold. Now, Facebook appears to be opening up Instant Articles even more by inviting publishers to contact them for information about becoming Instant Articles publishers. The possibility is very real that Instant Articles will be even more accessible by end of year 2016.

    Competition from other social media platforms to keep up with Facebook in this space will also benefit the marketing efforts of small to mid sized businesses. One example of this is the Snapchat story. Individual users are using this feature to tell stories of their experiences, but many brands are also incorporating Snapchat stories in their efforts to reach out to their base.

    6. User Expectations for Content Quality Will Soar

    As the popularity of inbound marketing increases, so does the amount of content available to consumers. This availability will continue to result in high expectations when it comes to quality and when it comes to the variety of content offerings. Smart content creators will factor in users’ preference video and image over text, their preference for informative and useful content over blatant sales efforts, and their preference for custom content over shared content. It is important to note that these preferences exist in the B2B sector as well as the B2C sector.

    7. Oculus Rift will Change The Way That Marketers Design the Customer Experience

    In spite of the fact that it is not coming to market until early in 2016, the possibilities that come with Oculus Rift are already changing the ways in which marketing strategists are thinking in regards to interactive content and customer engagement.

    Specifically, marketers who have largely ignored storytelling as a means of reaching consumers will find themselves racing to catch up, not only to begin using storytelling in their marketers but also to do it using 360 degree technology.

  • HomeTeam NS Celebrates 10th Anniversary with Educational Initiatives for Youth

    By Eugene Chuang on November 28 , 2015

    Education bursaries, a live performance by a Singapore Idol, and a screening of two of Singapore’s latest movies – this was HomeTeamNS’ way of celebrating its landmark 10th Anniversary. Some 700 attendees consisting of youths and their families spent their Saturday afternoon at the association’s celebratory event that was held at The Joyden Hall at Bugis+.

    At the event, Guest-of-Honour Mr Desmond Lee, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and National Development, and newly-appointed President of HomeTeamNS announced that the association was once again supporting underprivileged students through the HomeTeamNS Education Bursary Awards 2015. This year, a total of 97 educational bursaries worth more than S$60,000 will be given out.

    Ministry of Home Affairs Mr Desmond Lee admiring pictures found in the HomeTeamNS 10th anniversary book 10 Years of Stories with the editors of the book
    Ministry of Home Affairs Mr Desmond Lee admiring pictures found in the HomeTeamNS 10th anniversary book.

    Since the introduction of the awards, HomeTeamNS has given out a total of $1.29m to over 2,000 recipients, as part of its efforts to build an inclusive community within the HomeTeamNS family.

    Some of the recipients of the education bursaries shared about their plans for the money.

    15 year-old Zsigmond Poh from Hwa Chong Institution was among the 97 students who won the HomeTeamNS Education Bursary Awards this year.  He plans to use the $500 award towards paying for a new laptop, and also for Chinese enrichment class fees. Similarly, siblings Muhd Syahid bin Abu Bakar, 13, and his sister Aisya Abu Bakar, 8, plan to save a portion of the bursary and use the remainder for school expenses.

    Mr Lee said: “We have celebrated the contributions of Police and SCDF NSmen for many years. It is a significant milestone as today we see the fruits 10 years’ worth of work by the team to show appreciation for our NSmen and their families. We want to make sure that our association can cater to the whole life-cycle of our NSmen, their families and their children.”

    In 2005, HomeTeamNS was formed as a merger between the former Singapore Police Association for National Servicemen and Singapore Civil Defence Association for National Servicemen. Its goal was to create a shared recreational environment for NSmen from both forces to build bonds through sports and social activities.

    But the education bursary was not the only initiative that grabbed the attention of the attendees.

    Tafik singing his new single 'Izinkanku'

    At the opening of the event, Singapore Idol Taufik Batisah made a soulful, first live performance of his latest single Izinkanku, which means ‘allow me’ in Malay. Incidentally, Taufik also performed 10 years ago as a young NSF when the HomeTeamNS association just began in 2005. Likewise, Beats Encore, the spirited percussion ensemble from Republic Polytechnic roared up the crowd with its energetic repetoire of samba rhythms.

    HomeTeamNS also launched its 10 year anniversary book. A hardcover publication, the 10 Years of Stories anniversary book is a lively, pictorial volume, filled with quotes from Home Team NSmen past and present.

    Attendees were also given the opportunity to watch a free screening of two of Singapore’s latest movies – The Good Dinosaur and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2.