#AOTYAwards 2020 highlight: Ying Communications

Taking home to coveted gold award for PR Agency of the Year is Ying Communications. Ying Communications was unashamedly a mom-and-pop shop in its early years which has since grown to a team of 50 communications professionals. In 2019, the agency said it doubled its profits and its digital marketing business oversaw more data-driven lead generation and nurturing campaigns for clients across Asia Pacific. It also increased its client base from 21 to 35 as they increasingly sought for integrated communications support.

The agency has also been successful in retaining clients. As of December 2019, one in four have been with Ying Communications for three years or more. One in five have been with the agency for five years or more. Meanwhile, the agency said that clients such as Airbus, Beneo and Commvault have worked with Ying Communications for even longer.

Its success can be attributed to the better together approach which it has taken, with revenues split evenly between the dedicated digital marketing and PR units which it has built and grown. According to Ying Communications, a third of its revenue come from clients that tap on their expertise for digital marketing and PR. Additionally, the agency also noted an increase in clients from outside traditional B2B requesting for the same strategic approach, creative thinking and disciplined execution to their industries.

Product

Ying Communications' data-driven focus stems from its clients seeking data-driven campaign and measurable results. The team leverages tools such as CrimsonHexagon, SEMrush and Traackr to gain deeper insights so as to make data-driven recommendations and develop relevant campaigns that will work. At the same time, it has also developed its own methodology named Brand OS to help take clients from research and insights, to planning and executing digital and social media market strategies.

Last January, the agency also unveiled a predictive insights team to flag upcoming global industry or national milestones, such as the Singapore Budget, National Day Rally and the anniversary of GDPR. This has resulted in a win-win situation, with the media obtaining quotes from multiple clients with varying perspectives to meet their deadlines, and multiple clients also receive coverage in top-tier media.

According to the agency, a large proportion of its PR retainers and digital campaigns have been regional in nature. In 2019, the agency stepped out of its comfort zone to deliver creative work for financial services clients in the US, and managed both Asia and Middle East regions for Agoda.

People

At Ying Communications, learning is celebrated and every passion is welcomed, likening the agency to a geek academy. It not only offers employees training, but also focuses on important aspects such as inclusion and diversity, as well as creating a performance culture. New employees will attend a half-day session to learn about the agency's expectations and opportunities, and their performance is tracked with appraisals twice a year and regular reviews.

To keep the spirit of lifelong learning going at Ying Communications, the agency sets aside SG$1,000 to SG$2,000 per year per employee for external courses. Those who invest their own time in relevant training receive SG$500 and a day off. Internally, it has held more than 80 training sessions on topics such as AI, VR, blockchain, digital insights and video production. It also launched a global exchange programme last year, which saw an employee live and work in San Francisco for two weeks.

Ying Communications takes inclusion and diversity seriously, with 65% of its workforce comprising of women and the remaining 35% men. Also, three of its top four executives are women and it has a strong core of 69% Singaporeans, 11% permanent residents and 20% foreigners. It also offers new parents flexible working hours and Bring Your Baby to Work days.

Perspective

In 2019, Ying Communications used its communications expertise and experience with clients to offer insights on national and global issues at key conferences and with the media. Last April, it forged a local partnership with global think tank and consultancy ACCESS Health International to promote health-tech in Asia. Months later between August and October, it participated in #BeBoldBeBald, a global Finn Partners donation drive and raised more than SG$15,000 for the Singapore Cancer Society.

Its managing partner Allan Tan also led the thought leadership initiative at Ying Communications, sharing his views on the four-day work week and how it would only work in people-first organisations that care for and trust their employees. He also talked about how innovation must be a culture, not a product to encourage creativity among employees.

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