Social has allowed PR to go on steroids, says MBS’ comms director Timothy Hou

It is no breaking news that social is no longer a trend, but rather it is here to stay. In order to adapt and thrive in the world of social media and digital today, PR professionals need to understand how to effectively use these fast-changing social media tools to send messages across to both internal and external shareholders of their company.

“After all, PR professionals are spin doctors traditionally,” said Timothy Hou, director of internal communications and social media at Marina Bay Sands.

But PR jobs today go way beyond just being guardians of the brand when it comes to reputation management. Hou was speaking earlier at this week’s PR Asia 2016, a two day conference held at Shangri-la.

“PR folks become a council and guide for your organisation to put various messages out,” said Hou. Today the roles of PR professionals and social media professionals are intertwining, he said adding:

Social has allowed PR to go on steroids.

But despite the world of social evolving at break neck speed rate, Hou added that sticking to your initial social/PR strategy is also vital. One cannot simply throw out fundamental strategies simply because technology has evolved.

“I applied the same social strategy for the past five or six years even though the tactics keep changing and the platforms keep evolving. When you do apply a clear (social media) strategy, stick to it, and see it through for one or two years, it’s rewarding to know you’ve done the right thing,” he added.

On top of that, brands also should continue to apply the fundamental of PR strategy to social as much as possible.

“Much like the world of social, PR is also about building relationships,” he said. PR, like the folks in social, also need to know where their audiences are and understand the culture of audiences. This is where social listening becomes an important tool for a brand.

This applies even more when there are negative comments or feedback on social media. And, when it does happen, Hou said PR professionals should be able to spot, analyse and perhaps turn it around into a positive message for the audience.

Agreeing with him was Olivier Girard, customer success director at Digimind who added that reputation is the biggest challenge for communication directors.

“There are 3 dimensions of reputation today: what people say, what Google say and what brands say. Google users are influenced even before entering their search,” he added.

So how do you drown out the bad? One way would be by pushing more positive content online, said Girard.

The more content you push and promote online, more you can bury negative suggestions online.

Social media engagement and strategy

When it comes to promoting and engagement via social media, different strategies are used at Marina Bay Sands (MBS),for each of its social media platforms.

For instance, it is using Facebook to share the company’s activities across six type of unique business areas such as F&B, retail, museum, hotel and entertainment and mice. It uses Twitter to post more about the on-ground activation and events, while LinkedIn is used to share more content on the company’s achievements, its branding and positioning as employer of choice.

However this does not mean a brand needs to be on every social channel out there. Hou said:

Be selective which social platforms you use, choose what will work best for your organisation.

MBS first started with Facebook and Twitter in 2010, and only decided to make use of Instagram much later, about two years ago. Its strategy on Instagram, Hou said, is centred around featuring the persona of socialite and things behind the scenes. This method works for the company in terms of audience reach especially – as it has garnered more than 47,000 followers in quite a short period of time, compared to its Twitter of about 27,000 followers.

He added,” You can breakdown story telling in different formats, for different audiences. But ultimately on social, the need to be transparent is the highest.”




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