SPRG ventures into production space after publishing biz to break ‘PR only’ image


Strategic Public Relations Group (SPRG) Singapore has ventured into the production space, as it looks to move from away from a traditional PR model. In an interview with Marketing, Edwin Yeo, general manager of SPRG said this concept first struck the team around four years ago, when the agency went into the publishing business with the launch of its SPRG Newsroom. As part of that venture, the team developed a news website called The Pride for the Singapore Kindness Movement. SPRG was then regularly tasked to produce videos, and observed an organic engagement from its video content.

“We started beefing our in-house video production capabilities from then. Last year, including our video engagement, The Pride had almost 7.7m engagements from a total of 17 videos and around 200 articles,” he added. According to Yeo (pictured), this pushed the team to launch its second media platform called “Football Siao”. The platform creates humourous content in the form of memes, articles and videos related to the English Premier League.

On top of its own media platforms, SPRG also conceptualised and developed video content for some of its clients, Yeo said, adding it made sense to look into bolstering the capabilities of the the video team. “We’re currently filming two Chinese TV series, which have been sold to a cable TV channel. Each episode is about 10 minutes in length and we can see that the demand for short video content is increasing, especially with more mobile consumption of entertainment, which is right up our alley,” he said. Yeo declined to name the channel.  Some of the other content the team is working on include a Malay language children’s animated series, which is based on a children’s book series published by one of its staff members.

Currently, the majority of the intellectual property for the TV series is owned by SPRG. According to Yeo, the SPRG team doubles up in producing branded content and campaign work as well. The production team stands at 10, with a mix of writers, video editors, animators, photographers, art directors and producers, with some staff able to double hat. Given that it is the first year for SPRG in this new venture, Yeo said he expects production to bring in about 10-20% in revenue of the overall business. However, since the team is also considering IP ownership on top of production work, he added that the residual revenue from successful productions could translate to a sizable portion in the long run.

For SPRG, this would mean tweaking its business model, and basing it on partnerships. Yeo said that for Football Siao, the team has an ad sales partner, a video ad-serve platform and in the midst of launching a gaming platform. SPRG also works on branded content, while bringing its agency know-hows into benefitting advertisers ultimately.

Moving forward

Yeo told Marketing that SPRG already has a mix of agency creatives, filmmakers, authors and journalists, and a wide network of partners as well. He added that the agency aims to expand its partnership model, where SPRG looks to aid other creators in monetising their work, especially in the IP and digital space.

“PR will always be at the core of our consultancy, but since 2013, we’ve already started truly integrated service offering under one roof. Walk into our office, and you will find folks from advertising agencies, media strategists, branding experts, filmmakers, authors,” he said, adding:

I don’t think you can pigeonhole us into being just a PR agency, or even just an agency anymore.

“It sounds fluffy, but at our core, we’re storytellers. Whether we tell stories in a press release, a poster, a TV series, an article, it always come back to telling good stories. And in a content-driven world, we think the ability to tell great stories will be our difference-maker, he explained. Seeing media organisations stepping into the agency business, particularly to offer branded content services, Yeo said that if media organisations and agencies do not find a way to prosper together, it will eventually lead to a race to the bottom.

“And yet, with each growing year, the appetite for quality shows and content is growing, and agencies have a wealth of talent that I guarantee would love to try their hand at creating the next Game of Thrones. It just makes sense to me to let my creatives, well, create,” he added.