#AOTYAwards spills: Ying Communications on the ying and yang of PR

Ying Communications started almost 19 years ago, with just two people who shared a love for the amazing innovations, exceptional engineering and industry-changing technology created by leading B2B companies.

Today, it is more than 50 strong in Singapore, delivering B2B marketing and B2B PR to some of the most innovative companies in the world. 70% of the agency’s business comes from clients involved in growth markets of cloud computing, big data and analytics, as well as mobile and social platforms.

At MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s 2020 Agency of the Year, Ying Communications took home the gold award for PR agency of the year and bronze award for the B2B agency of the year.

"Winning the award is a hard- and well-earned recognition of the talented and dedicated team that we have. And we have been fortunate in that we have consistently had great people on the team over the last 20 years since we started," said Naeema Ismail, general manager and senior partner, PR, Ying Communications.

This interview is done as part of MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s winners and finalists’ interview series. To find out more about the awards, click here.

What are some of the expectations your consumers now have for your brand?

Ismail: I feel that our clients’ expectations will remain as they’ve always been – for us to be true to our fundamental values: to be amazing people who do amazing work, and who work hard and play nice.

How has your marketing/your clients marketing plans shifted this year?

Ismail: The pandemic has had an impact on every business in every corner of the earth. Business engagements have been driven online and this has meant that our clients have had to think harder about how to make meaningful connections with their target stakeholders in this new normal. It has been a rollercoaster ride of testing new ways of engagement and adapting on the fly. But tough as it has been, it’s actually been a great year as it has further deepened many of our client relationships as we got through everything together.

What are some of the trends you see carrying on post-pandemic, and how are you readying your workforce to be ready with these trends?

Ismail: We’ve always had a focus on training and development. The pandemic has further emphasized the importance of never standing still and the need to constantly push ourselves to continually learn, grow and evolve.

To this end, we took advantage of the lockdown period and revamped our training policy, relaunching it as our Continuous Learning Initiative. At its core, the Continuous Learning Initiative recognizes three key tenets:

Learning is a continuous process, one that each person needs to prioritise every week, every month. It cannot be a once-a-year affair.

Each learner needs to take charge of his or her own learning journey and skills development. Don’t wait for someone else to plan it out for you.

There are many ways to learn – from formal course-taking to casual social learning; from webinars and YouTube videos to virtual or face-to-face classroom sessions; from internal gurus to external experts; from short blogs by influencers to white papers by academics and visionaries. So, keep an open mind.

What do you think makes for great marketing these days?

Ismail: The three ingredients of great marketing are: authenticity; having an intimate understanding of customer’s pain points, drivers and needs; and complete alignment between marketing promises and brand delivery.

How are you planning for 2021?

Ismail: “Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.” – American mathematician, John Allen Paulos

2020 has shown us that we need to be prepared for the unexpected. More than ever before, particularly in marketing and communications, adaptability is a pre-requisite, not an idealistic virtue. Individuals and organizations who are comfortable with being uncomfortable and are prepared to change course, regardless of where they are on their respective journeys, are the ones who will survive and thrive.

We end 2020 with a great respect for our resilient and tenacious team, clients, and partners. We will enter 2021 stronger and better than we were a year ago. We’ve learned how much more we are capable of in times of adversity, and built strong relationships both within our agency, and with our clients and partners.

While we will continue to forecast and plan for 2021, we go into the new year with an agile mindset, prepared to pivot as needed in our delivery and offerings to clients, the industries that we serve, and even how and who we interact and collaborate with.

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