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Stop chasing the media, says APB’s PR lead Mitchell Leow

PR no doubt has evolved. But this doesn’t mean you should be throwing everything you knew about it out the window.

Speaking at the two day PR Asia 2016 conference held by Marketing in Singapore, Mitchell Leow, head of corporate relations at Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore, said despite the evolution of the space and all things digital, the archaic press release for one, still matters simply because it helps certain brands keep in track the flow of news and past archives.

He added however, that APB hasn’t disseminated mass releases or held large scale press conferences for a long time because it believes in intimate sessions that help get the brand messaging across accurately. He said:

Unlike the past, we don’t chase the media anymore. We have intimate sessions so our messaging is authentic and targeted. We also follow the audience to make sure the messaging resonates.

He added, “In order to streamline our brand campaign, we avoid the typical press conference conference set up.”

Leow also highlighted the ABC’s of modern day PR.

“Firstly be (A)uthentic and true to your brand. Secondly, look (B)eyond just PR and drive the brand value. This is ultimately to establish a (C)onnection with the consumers,” he said.

The key is push the boundaries, and this will lead to the success of the brand, he explained.

Is social channel a must for all PR communications?

“Audience is always first,” he said.  It is important for brands to be able to reach out the consumers, wherever they may be -with the help of the right channel. Brands must find out where their target consumers are most active in and adopt that platform – be it online or offline, rather than think of which medium they want to play in.

He also added that with so much content out there, being compelling is a must. APB’s brand strategy has over the years evolved to become more  authentic and interactive. Leow explained that once this criteria is fulfilled, media attention will gradually follow.

While the consumer facing brands under APB have a social presence, the corporate affairs team has refrained from being on social. This was a conscious decision made the team. Rather the PR folks establish a direct communication with journalists and editors to walk them through the processes and guidelines APB has put in place.

“Just because we understand something doesn’t mean the journalist does too. Our field of expertise is not necessarily the journalist’s. So we need to walk them through,” he added.

PR folks are still story tellers

PR people have also traditionally been the story tellers of brands and with the rise of content, marketing and PR teams now need to work closer than ever.

As a professional who has been in the PR industry for over a decade, Leow believes that PR team can no longer function alone. It is important for the PR and marketing team to work together incorporate the brand value into a campaign.

We are aware of what the teams bring to the table individually. Working with the marketing team helps us strike the right balance for the brand campaign.

When asked if PR was accountable for sales figures, Leow said, “We don’t really chase numbers as out aim is to basically reach out to the audiences of a varied age range, irrespective of the platform they might be in. You know about Tiger but how many of you actually went out to get Tiger?”

As such, the right KPIs for the PR team also matters. It isn’t always all about sales. And this all trickles down to telling the right story and “ticking the right boxes”, in order to differentiate the brand in the competitive markets, he added.

Most recently for the Tiger beer brand, the company  launched a campaign which preserves street food culture as traditional hawker centres make way for fancy restaurants in the city. The brand however struggled to decide on where the logo and product should be placed with both PR and marketing making their cases. Ultimately, the brand decided it was best left subtly at the end to avoid obvious product placement.

He explained, younger audiences are skeptical of ads but if you give them entertaining content, they are more likely to be accepting towards it, adding:

We worked really closely with the marketing and realised that consumers are put off the moment a product is seen in the ad. It is the mystery and insight which drives the campaign.

 

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