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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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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.

 

The Human & Digital Communications Agency

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Waiting for information alignment

Many key trends look ready to coalesce in ways that should make data more easily accessible and better organized. Only that for every innovative step forward, more questions and disruption is caused as well. What’s new? Well, plenty, actually. Voice search, led by the rise of Alexa and Google Home, is ready for big-time liftoff and will have interesting ramifications for SEO – which remains something both unquantified and essential for businesses. The same goes for video, which is becoming more popular on websites but is just as susceptible to the unpredictable, shifting nature of SEO.

 

A world of opportunity for storytellers

 

For public relations professionals, this presents the usual challenge and opportunity: for those with the right message and networks for amplifying messages, the rewards are great. Deeper, better content that connects meaningfully with buyers, in particular niches, remains essential and is more important than ever. Beyond the reach of big data and reaching target audiences, developing a rapport still matters, and remains built on trust and experience. This takes a proven track record more than algorithms and mere potential. What matters is data maturity: it takes time and energy to isolate trends and optimize today’s great opportunities for message sharing and profit.

 

In search of truths

 

This need for authenticity and balance in a world more marked by chance is well represented in the rise of the digital platforms for many traditional media that now have more online that hard-copy subscriptions. The successful shift has solidified and raised the standing of classic institutions such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Classical influencers still have their role in times threatened by fake news, and big data, which gives even larger importance to the need for veracity.

 

The Human & Digital Communications Agency

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Intellectual property violations, imitation as flattery, and the PR in between

“There’s only one Colonel in Chicken Town.” This is how a narrator wraps up a new, much-talked about ad for KFC UK, in which Colonel Sanders styled like the Godfather, accompanied by the film’s famous theme, drives through tough streets teeming with fake KFCs. Instead of taking on the copycats directly, he awes them simply by fearlessly cruising through their neighborhood on his way to the real KFC. There he gets down to work, making the fried chicken that the brand is renowned for. It’s a clear message that the original master still has the most street cred.

 

Pirates of the Information Age

 

Intellectual Property (IP) and other violations regarding logos, films, songs, secret recipes and other creations can cause significant financial loss. Pirates have gone mainstream on platforms like YouTube, aided by technology that is complicit in diminishing the original work of creators. Grey areas have sprouted up everywhere online and elsewhere in regards to whom should profit from what ideas and products and to what extent, in a culture in which IP sharing has been normalized.

 

Amplified with intention

 

The KFC commercial’s message is thematically integrated into posters featuring the logos of the imitators, with similar all-caps lettering reminiscent of KFC, but instead declaring DFC, RFC, LFC, etc. KFC signs off at the bottom of the posters with “Guys, we’re flattered”, taking stock of the situation and spinning a negative into a positive with a classic comeback. Taking on any issue with the style and poise of a grand master creates a lasting impression – especially if you’re iconic enough to back it up.

 

The Human & Digital Communications Agency

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Creating content that delights

Even as public relations companies attempt to find out and deliver the kind of content that consumers want, they are attempting to better their techniques that will help them do so. If this sounds like putting the cart before the horse, that’s because it is. But the alternative to not taking risks in creating content is falling behind in a highly fluid online marketing scene.

 

Disconnected, but forging on

 

While there is a significant disconnect between the perceived effectiveness of content between creators and audiences, and how effective content is having on delivering results, plans are underway to make improvements. More moving, meaningful brand experiences are desired, but the devil is in the digital details as to how this can be achieved – and tracked. A new study shows that marketers are focusing on creating content that demonstrably delivers ROI results, is efficiently managed, and makes use of more compelling visuals. Only that without better ROI results, content that can be seen as effectively managed and is visually exciting may not be either, actually, and would necessitate a return to the drawing board. A stunning 95% of content on brands is ignored by audiences, according to one estimate.

 

Tell me a story that I should like even more than you do

 

So what’s a good PR team to do? Tell a great story that inspires consumers to pay for the products and services being delivered, of course. But until the secrets of how to deliver exactly what keeps consumers entertained and paying up, by teasing useful information from big data, the disconnect between content providers and audiences will remain. It’s no wonder PR workers are seen as having jobs ranked more stressful than most, when the kinds of precise results asked for by clients are attempted to be met on channels and platforms through content that often is so hard to define.

 

The Human & Digital Communications Agency

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In search of SEO

The calculus of optimizing a company’s online potential seems simple enough: get more people coming to your website and engaging in activity there that will boost profits. Only that there are many hurdles to overcome, due to lack of prepaedness for optimizing the great potential of SEO. And the fact that the rules of the game are subject to change.

 

Staying atop the digital dogpile

 

Getting and remaining listed highly on Google’s first page of search results is getting more difficult, as companies are becoming increasingly competitive in making sure their online presence is as good as it gets, led by attractive, relevant content in synch with what big search engines are asking for. Similar challenges, competitiveness and expense limits the effectiveness of click-baiting people into visiting your website. Good SEO comes down to an effective deployment of winning content, and good use of meta tags and keyword targets. A new study of small businesses indicates that the number one SEO metric used by small businesses is traffic from the likes of Google and other major search engines, while also significant are conversions and leads, as well as use of backlinks.

 

SEO, s’il vous plait

 

The study shows that only a third of small businesses have a fully developed plan for boosting SEO, but that by the end of this year, roughly half of all companies will have such a strategy. Over six out of 10 of the small businesses surveyed say that social media marketing is the most common SEO booster. Also important to the small firms was having a website that was easy to interface with smartphones, and investing more heavily in digital marketing.

 

Putting the O in SEO

 

As if all that wasn’t challenging enough, some observers say that by the end of next year, half of all online searches may be voice-activated. This is one more area in which many small businesses need to play catch up in, if Internet searches related to their products and services are to be anything close to optimal.

 

The Human & Digital Communications Agency

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Great PR potential in an Internet minute

Big data number crunchers have come through with an impressive snapshot of Internet life, rendered almost comprehendible by slicing and serving the online world up in one-minute slices. And it’s still a lot to digest. Digital marketers, take pause and consider what’s happening on a world gone online, and the potential for messages placed with the right audiences.

 

Billions and billions – messages, photos, and more screen moments

 

Just a few transactions shy of $100,000 spent across online shopping platforms. More than a million Tinder swipes. Googling over 3.8 million times for searches of all kinds. That’s what’s happening on the Internet every 60 seconds, on average. And that’s just for starters. The numbers are difficult to make sense of in there enormousness. Trends are towards even more Internet activity compared to last year, although there are some slower patches.

 

The websites we’ve welcomed into our lives

 

Netflix is on a tear, growing from 266,000 Netflix hours watched last year on average in a minute if you added them all up, to 694,000 this year. The number of emails sent every minute, while huge, only nudged upwards, from last year’s 187 million emails a minute to 188 million this year. Long-time video provider YouTube is experiencing slow growth as well, trickling up from 4.3 million viewers every minute last year to 4.5 million served in 2019. Meanwhile, the Great Snap Letdown of 2018 led to a decline of one-three million uses on the formerly rising application, who were displeased with a redesign that lacked mass appeal. It’s an online numbers game of great proportion, and the stakes are growing by the minute.

 

The Human & Digital Communications Agency

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Good PR and the art of stress management

PR executives are listed among those who stare down death daily. Topping CareerCast’s annual chart for the most stressful careers are: enlisted military personnel, firefighter, airline pilot and police officer.

 

Licensed to thrill

 

Spots from 6 to 10 were much less marked by opportunities for encounters with bodily, but instead relied more on well-honed communications skills: broadcaster, event coordinator, news reporter, PR executive, senior corporate executive, taxi driver. The survey’s criteria for what makes jobs stressful was broken down into 11 categories, including thrills and spills like Risk of Death or Grievous Injury, Immediate Risk of Another’s Life, Hazards Encountered, and subtler obstacles too, namely Travel, Career Growth Potential, Deadlines, Working in the Public Eye, Meeting the Public, and Competition, plus the it-depends categories of Physical Demands, Environmental Conditions.

 

Deadlines of greater concern than risk of death

 

Although some jobs involve great potential risk to one’s personal safety, the greater danger day by day is that of meeting deadlines, which was the greatest cause of stress for of 38% of respondents. Moreover, almost 80% of those surveyed gave the level of stress on their job 7 out of 10 of more on a scale of 1 to 10. This is a big surge from the nearly 70% mentioned on the 2017 stress survey.

 

Pitfalls of being a digital publicist

 

In a stressful profession rife with the disruptive and potentially lucrative intrusion of digital influencers, PR execs live in uncertain times. The threats posed by fake news and distrust of media can wreak havoc. But the potential for big payoffs is profound for those who find the right balance and use big data to their advantage…

 

The Human & Digital Communications Agency

Our award-winning communications team blends human interactions & digital engagement seamlessly to produce results for brands.

 

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Offline by nature in a world linked up

A significant chunk of big data is going unrecorded and marketing information untapped, while at the same time lifestyle preferences are pushed aside: China is less than a decade away from having a population in which a full quarter of the population will be over 60 years of age, according to demographic trends.

 

Sorry, there’s an app for that too

 

While the country continues its relentless pace of digitalization on all fronts, some seniors are balking at the perceived need to electronically attend to an increasing amount of tasks that just a few years ago were done almost exclusively in traditional ways. While day-to-day shopping and other needs have been simplified by electronic payment schemes in ways that developed countries have not implemented on so wide a scale, the catch-up is greater for elders caught on the old-school side of the digital divide. Banking, hailing taxis, booking tickets and accommodation when travelling, and ordering in restaurants are all examples of transactions now conducted easily and smoothly online for younger Chinese, and making functioning autonomously a significant challenge for seniors.

 

The Uninfluenced

 

Compounding the trend is the population’s skewing towards an ageing society, with many fewer couples opting for the economic investments required to raise a second child, even after the dramatic scaling back of the one-child policy.

 

And while information aplenty on all levels is being amassed on the habits and trends of younger buyers, elder Chinese stand having less known about what they are looking for, and providing information on the adaptations that might make meaningful differences in their lives, if known about.

 

The Human & Digital Communications Agency

Our award-winning communications team blends human interactions & digital engagement seamlessly to produce results for brands.

 

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blog 045 pr bangkok thailand

An interview with Thai PR.

Vivaldi founder and CEO Joseph Henry talks to Thai PR web about the success of Vivaldi Integrated PR, and the future of digital public relations in Thailand

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