Companies Are Forced To Walk the Talk

In conjunction with PiPR's 1st birthday recently, I took the opportunity to ask the Managing Director Ms. Lee Ting Ting 5 challenging questions.

What does it feels like become 1 year anniversary?

It’s been just slight more than 12 months, but we feel like we’ve come a long way (just turning one on October 1, 2010). Pi was up with a good start against many other more established PR agencies by managing to gain the trust and retainer accounts of several big IT brands in the local market. This significant to us in wanting to established our own positioning as ‘Your boutique IT PR specialist’ in Malaysia.

How has the PR industry changed over the past few years and what are coming next ?

The PR industry landscape has definitely become more competitive, with more and more players coming into this low-barrier industry. This is why Pi needs to ‘go niche’ – that is to focus on providing IT PR consultancy, instead of spreading it thin by claiming to be a PR expert in all fields. It’s pretty hard to have depth and at the same time command the width/ breath of the market at the same time. It is not impossible, but having a known expertise and continuing to hone that expertise, I figure, is not a bad strategy.

In the foreseeable future, I see the PR folks playing a more critical and strategic role in directly impacting the business. PR is a very powerful marketing tool, as communication of corporate and brand message is a major element in building perception. And we know that Marketing is all about Perception.

Companies with more ‘foresight’ will be able see how they can really leverage PR to gain real competitive edge; and how PR is also a way of imposing corporate ‘self-discipline’ – in the sense that companies are forced to walk the talk they have made in PR communication to their audience. The media watches and monitors – pretty much like a watchdog of sorts…so as much as you want to leverage the media for business advantage (read: branding and marketing your products and services), it can also be a double-edge sword if you cannot fulfill what you have committed publicly through PR.

This is why I think that PR consultants are increasingly conscientious of what they advice on the communication of business concept to their clients. In short, the PR industry will alleviate into a much more ‘professional stature’ with organizations relying on them to more and more to achieve a more respectable, clearer and more definitive position in their markets.

Tell us your best experience in servicing your customers in 2010 ?

There have been several good experiences with the successful delivery of PR briefs in some unconventional ways. However I must say that the common thread in all of the ‘good’ customer servicing experiences is when Pi was recruited really to be an integral part of the corporate strategy – in exercises to help the customer gain specific competitive advantage in their marketplace.

The trust and close interaction that Pi shared with these particular customers (or PR projects) deem it the best experience for us.

Everybody is talking about social media, how has that changed the PR industry ?

Really, there is no escaping the social media. The longer companies try to wait for another solution around having to do social media, the more that they are just wasting precious time.

I am not saying that all companies should dive into social media, as it really depends on their sort of business and market they are playing in. But where and if consumers (or the masses) are involved as your target audience, then you have to get involved in social media.

Pi PR has a very strong social media alliance in which has a fantastic track record of successes in leveraging Web 2.0 for many large IT and non-IT PR/ creative projects. From the work done and in progress, I would say that PR consultants today cannot possible detach themselves from questions such as ‘How could social media play in this (PR) scenario?’, ‘What are the costs of NOT doing social media in this (PR) scenario?’, and ‘How can social media synergize the PR plan I have for this particular brief?’

What would you tell your customers about how they can go to the next level by engaging your service ? What do people generally do not realize ?

I can’t speak for all people in the PR industry, but I am probably the strongest advocate of PR for the technology sector – especially when this industry is so (often) convoluted, confusing, technical, dry, boring and yet so important!

The simple truth is that most IT products, solutions and services bring about a good level of advantages if anybody or any organization invests in it, AND ensures that they know how to get an ROI back from that IT investment. PR comes in, quite unexpectedly, in trying to bridge the many ‘I Can! I Can!’s’ of IT vendors, and the ‘I Want! I Want!’s’ of the mass market.

What an IT vendor CAN do, and what the market WANTs can be bridged by PR. People need to realize this as the often understated role of PR – good PR at least.

PR is never about lying about what a company does, it is not about false impression. PR is really a corporate media service for the articulation of concepts, messages and clarifications – in the most diplomatic and honest manner, which IS the way of the media and what they ideally stand for.