pr digital agency bangkok thailand

Smooth influencer

There’s no way to dazzle followers like sharing an extended version of one of life’s most romantic if not always completely surprising events, live online. So when Instagram fashion influencer Marissa Casey Fuchs’ fiancé popped the question, the biggest butterflies-in-stomach moments may have been for those tracking the financial impact on her big-name clients, as it seems safe to assume that the event was planned in advance by the couple. Judging from the enthusiastic reception from her fan base, and the free news coverage that ensued, it was one clever idea.

 

The client and the influencer

 

With more than 160,000 followers on Instagram, Fuchs has a long reach. As publicists become more of a part of the story themselves, as companies are able to gain a good following by simply dedicating a few employees to managing their social media accounts in-house, and as images and messages are more easily streamed by anyone for any practically any purpose, just who is promoting whom becomes an intriguing question. Going into a partnership with an another party, the reputation of the more renowned one tends to more significantly affect the less well-known one, or, in the case of two parties on more or less equal footing, it’s a matter of building opportunity, one relationship at a time. Who the greater influencer of them is, is an open question.

 

Every move you make

 

Fuch’s smoothly choreographed engagement was closely followed by her fans, and earned her new ones. The elegant gold necklaces studded with diamonds that were part of the story, the places the couple dined, and other personal details all became part of a brand-focused experience and story. While it may not have been a surprise, the engagement still sparkled, judging by the approving posts of followers, and generated its own feel-good PR, proving that this Instagramer is indeed the FashionAmbitionist she bills herself as.

 

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Thailand on track for slower but steady growth in 2019

The Kasikorn Research Centre estimates that Thailand’s economy will grow 3.7% this year, down from a previously estimated 4.0%, in part due to things beyond the country’s control, chiefly economic tensions between the US and China. Thailand’s export-focused business and the manufacturing sector are showing signs of slowing. A smart coping strategy, according to a local World Bank analyst, is staying committed to the development and ongoing construction of various infrastructure works, to stimulate domestic spending and help keep medium-term growth on track.

 

Alternate paths to growth

 

At Bangkok’s BTS Skytrain stations, iconic symbols of so much that’s changed during the country’s fast-moving development in recent decades, passengers waiting for the next train will find a variety of colourful ads digitally vying for their attention, sending messages from state-of-the-art digital displays of various sizes.

 

The other Talat Phlu Station

 

Beneath a flyover for cars, and the construction site that will eventually link a new MRT to the Talat Phlu BTS Station, on terra firma and closer to the original Phlu Market where betel was once widely sold, lies a Talat Phlu Station on a State Railway of Thailand commuter line. Customers who pay 10 baht can go all the way to the terminus of Mahachai Station, and a hub of activity at a pier teeming with the coming and going of fishing boats, adding their tasty contributions to a major sector of the national economy.

 

Rolling onward

 

Kasikorn also reports that private consumption grew 4.3% year on year and that this was good news for farmers and the agriculture sector, while continually increasing tourist arrivals is also good for the economy. While digital-age commuting and connectivity promises increasingly innovative marketing opportunities, and whole Skytrain cars can be colored up into rolling ad campaigns, when glitches in the global system arise, it’s good to know that there are still plenty of down-to-earth solutions at hand.

 

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Childhoods on film

Gen Z is developing maturing perspectives on lives in which the highlights of birthdays, holidays and random events aplenty have been relentlessly captured, captioned and shared on social media. Images of the innocent things kids do which seem innocent enough at the time, to the doer can become sources of embarrassment best destroyed once adolescence kicks in. Yesteryear’s photo album, pulled out and shared sparingly with visiting friends and extended families has been replaced by fully labeled and ‘liked’ mini-encyclopedias of youth, day in and day out, available for the world to see 24/7, compiled by those who didn’t grow up that way but often featuring subjects that have little say in their having ‘gone public’.

 

Epic fails, memorialized

 

From literal run-ins with walls or dogs as toddlers to off-key versions of evergreen songs bravely performed in school concerts to sport days that may not have gone well or, worse, ended in goofy victory dances, the normal growing pains of the earliest years are there for the gawking. Generational Kinetics, a Gen Z-focused company, has through polls deduced that the world’s latest generation shows a heightened awareness of privacy rights, because fighting for them – often with their parents and friends – is the new normal.

 

Image control

 

Millions of people barely on the threshold of adulthood are being forced to enter negotiations to control elements of their public persona. Actors once came to such agreements with their agents, and companies still do with their PR representatives. But today it is the norm for everyone to be, at least potentially, known far and wide. Lives are lived in the public domain, or something close to it, monitored by CCTV. Young people today have grown up instant experts in cultivating their image – and coping with posts that spun out of their control long ago, and if even if taken down, leave behind archival memories and the stuff of myths.

 

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Ads surviving and thriving

Some 90% of smaller businesses plan on increasing their budgets for this year, according to a new study. While the widespread and increasingly effective role of semi-autonomous influencers focused on special media platforms continues growing apace, and more and more customers get their information on products and services from peer reviews, the direct messaging of ad campaigns remains very relevant for spearheading and reinforcing the key messages streaming in from a dizzying variety of sources.

 

Making a name for yourself

 

Over half of the firms surveyed reported allocating less than $US50,000 on ads. Industry experts aware of new trends maintain that the benefits of advertising remains high in order to stand up and be noticed in an era marked by diminishing consumer loyalty. In terms of age differentiation, while both Millennials and Baby Boomers stated support of ads, Baby Boomers, who were less saturated with ads as children, were somewhat less likely to find them necessary.

 

Social media is where it’s at

 

In terms of placement, preference was by far strongest for placing ads in social media, with buying ad space on Google search pages, banners and retargeted advertisements also being popular. The dramatic growth of online shopping helps fuel the trend for the increasing relevance of traditional ads placed in new places, via the Internet. At the same time, traditional – and expensive – means of advertising such as on billboards and at bus stands shows only modest usefulness in terms of the much greater dividends paid for ads placed online. Despite the growth of big data and potential for specific sales and cashback pledges, ads online and everywhere remain based around the fundamental concept of generating greater brand awareness.

 

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PR ethics for competition and communication

In this final edition in a short series of blogs on how the Public Relations Society of America’s Code of Ethics relates to online-based PR today, the concepts of furthering communication and competition are looked at. On the face of it, the nature of digital realities today make ‘competition’ and ‘communication’ rather synonymous and symbiotic, seemingly forever feeding each other in an endless round of healthy if at times barbed exchanges online, with no communication-inhibiting monopolization in sight thanks to the competitive nature of posts and counter-posts on Facebook, Trip Advisor and the like…

 

Beyond tit for tat

 

…Only that these social media platforms can become self-serving pedestals and alter the nature and purpose of communication carried out on them. The PRSA’s stated commitment to a free flow of information, are checked by societal forces that have always worked to crush competitive forces, for better or worse, which often links with the idea of limited or at least dramatically curtailed communication. Worse, the go-to biggies of the digital age like Google, Facebook and Mircosoft, while officially espousing free expression, have all come up into trouble for hindering the freedoms they claim they stand for. These three titans have faced, and fought, for example, enormous fines from the European Union, and have become accustomed to operating with few to no rivals. The democratizing forces of the Internet have come up against firewalls protecting multinational institutions, which are often the ones setting the new standards.

 

Is there still room for privacy?

 

While Facebook’s CEO famously derided the idea of privacy in the future, and censorship, facial recognition technology and other digital forces coalesce to serve the consolidation of power, signs of counterbalance are found in new messy norms which champion the peer reviews of the little guy and the growth of the next big-time Gen Z influencer. But as long the Information Age police are the information providers themselves, the whole point of digitalupgrades’ are called into question.

 

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Loyalty and fairness in the digital age

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) lists the noble but sometimes nebulous ideas of loyalty and fairness among their professional values in its Code of Ethics. Loyalty sounds (and is) great. But loyalty to what? And can or should loyalties be ranked? Broadening the issue, we see that brand loyalty has taken a hit in recent years, as the Information Age comes of age and generates more competition and price awareness. Fairness also has relative qualities as well, to be fair. The PRSA spells out loyalty as a quality to demonstrate both to clients represented by PR professionals and to the public interest. Only that the “public interest” may be more open to interpretation that loyalty…

 

Quantifying fairness

 

Fairness is defined as treating various parties that PR teams come into contact with “fairly”, and respecting different opinions and freedom of expression. A free flow of truthful information is also valued. In terms of effectively and fairly advocating for clients today, publicists have to be smarter and on message with excellent networks of contacts to retain what’s left of their influence, as they find it increasingly necessary to become “content marketers” and more analytical.

 

Integrity-based relations

 

The Code of Ethics references the need to have good relations with reporters (along with government officers and the public). These days, bloggers and posters are everywhere. Maintaining ethical, effective relations with such a growing pool of individuals coming from increasingly varied backgrounds and on an enormous scale presents new challenges. Indeed, by many measures today, most of us are members of the “media”, if we count posting on Facebook or Twitter. The nature of living up to the ethics espoused can become all the more challenging when considering how so much of the public is sharing their experiences with products and services. Just as the values that the PRSA are called on more, they can become more challenging to make sense of in terms of functionality, case by case and moment by moment, in an age where potential ethical dilemmas are constantly played out on social media platforms.

 

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PR at its core

The values listed in the Preamble of the Public Relations Society of America (PSRA) continue to provide timeless advice that can prove useful for navigating the uncertain seas of today’s world. Far from old-fashioned, they represent ideas that can provide clarity for professionals caught up in the spin cycle or find themselves outpaced by the digitally savvy or hyper-networked among rising influencers. For every move in which IT-focused, AI-enhanced protocol and big data threatens to disrupt traditional business patterns, the more innovations can arise for those prepared to take risks, if tethered to some of the most essential of key messages listed in the Preamble, a few of which are addressed here…

 

Advocacy

 

Advocacy often seems these days to have been subcontracted by default to influencers, customers writing peer reviews, social media platforms, and a Gen Z getting a feel for their algorithm-assisted moral compass and wanting companies to focus more on, for example, CSR and taking better care of the environment. PR firms increasingly need to up their game to remain relevant advocates for clients, by harnessing big data to analyze and accurately project spending patterns and the behavior of potential customers, and maintain and update better lists of new-gen publishers and persuaders with a finger on the pulse of today’s trends.

 

Honesty & Independence

 

Facts are everywhere these days, oftentimes therefore cheap, and yet in other instances harder to confirm thanks to the fake news phenomenon. The deeper and more meaningful facts will be carefully cultivated, not copy-pasted, and based on critical reasoning and analysis. And, needless to say, enticingly presented. As always, decisive and discreet selected sharing of information remains appropriate. Another listed PSRA value is the independence to provide counsel to whom one choses. As always, it pays to represent clients who are aligned with your own mission and have messages worth amplifying.

 

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In pursuit of wellness

A new report on leisure spending indicates that wellness tourism is growing more quickly than most other sectors in the hospitality industry. For PR professionals, the potential for cashing in is significant, particularly in the Asia-Pacific.

 

More income, more trips

 

A focus on wellness now accounts for about 6.5 percent of all holidays. This represents a growth rate of 15 percent since 2015, or a raw total of about 830 million trips worldwide. Significant growth in particular is being experienced in Asia. As money becomes more available and the region’s share of the global pie grows, lifestyle upgrades are becoming more affordable and the quest for downtime grows. This is led by the great economic expansion in China over the last 20 years. Yoga, Ayurveda, medical tourism, tai chi, temple-stays, swimming pools, cultural tours and massages are all part of the trend, in addition to entire venues exclusively dedicated to making one feel more balanced and in better physical and mental health.

 

Chinese-led growth

 

Tourists from China are expected to add up to almost a third of the global travel market within 10 years. Chinese are already the planet’s largest group of spenders, infusing some $258 billion each year to the global economy. On the receiving end, China is also anticipated to the top destination country for travelers within a few years. China’s dominant “9-9-6” work culture, in which employees are expected to work from 9am – 9pm, six days straight, fuels the need for vacations that are relaxing and then return you to work in tip-top condition.

 

Girl power, magnified

 

Women are leading the demands for more relaxation. This includes time away from the annoyances and pressures of men on female-only vacations, which have grown in popularity by 200% in recent years. Women are wealthier, less likely to marry and have kids, and thus more likely to pamper themselves than ever before, as socio-economic shifts lead to more lifestyle-friendly travels. This ties into traditional market forces (think 500 thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets) appealing to women in spa settings and amplified retail therapy, with wellness products and services in increasing demand.

 

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Reinforcing the PR side of PR

Everyone appreciates praise. Yet the art of flattery and persuasion, even in the age of influencers, often seems to have taken a hit. There’s a distinctively impersonal, IT/AI feel to social media, due to its basis on connectivity which takes place without face-to-face interactions. Publicists proud of their lists of and links to influential people would do well to take a pause and ask themselves what their philosophy on relating to people is based on.

 

Online, but not all the time

 

Genuinely glowing reviews often bring in more revenue than well-placed advertisements. Persuading customers and potential buyers to leave behind a few heartfelt words helps generate future sales and better ROI. Money can’t buy this. Prospective buyers are more influenced by peer reviews and storytelling than ever before. So by all means, get your stories out there, spread and shared not just via algorithms and “Likes” but at water coolers and dinner tables.

 

Relating to the public

 

When negative reviews come or damage control is needed these soft or people skills are all the more essential. Getting people to write or otherwise share nice words about you is more of something friends do for each other, not clients of colleagues, no matter how financially valuable the relationship. Goodwill is largely based on other values, even when the bottom line factors in.

 

Online more of the time

 

That being said, do be practical and digital, of course. Maintaining a strong online presence is something PR firms should do and should ask their clients to do as well. It’s an ideal way of spreading good vibes and messages these days, of course.

 

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Trust generally, verify occasionally

Consumers in the US are concerned about the quality of food they are eating, but not going out of their way to look into production practices of agribusinesses — not that it was ever easy to discover the truth about food safety, of course.

 

Gluten-free? You tell me

 

Opinion was split about half and half over whether consumer food guidelines were useful and practical, or confusing and not having much relevance to the average investigative eater. Most consumers reported putting at least some small effort into trying to figure out more about food safety, but a full third did very little to no research at all.

 

Second opinions valued

 

The classic approach of consulting informed non-stakeholders into what insight they have on the matter was valued by around 80% of consumers, who were much more likely to trust key third-party certifying bodies or governmental agencies than the producers of food products themselves. Just under half of respondents threw caution to the wind and bought and consumed a product they felt they had doubts about in regards to safety, health or nutrition. Only a third of respondents thought much about the validity of claims made by celebrities or influencers.

 

You are what you eat

 

Compounding the issue was that even though most consumers reported general trust in the safety of what they were eating, it can be challenging to truly know what you are eating, since the potential of big data has done little so far to help trace the multiple origins, production histories and assemblage of the various components going into the foods we eat.

 

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