*The series is based on phone or face-to-face interviews and written input, therefore please excuse language mistakes which might reflect foreign language influences.*
1. Common mistakes of PR that foreign companies make in Vietnam
Ha Ngo: Many foreign PR companies think that in order to create good news/stories in the newspapers/magazines, they have to pay for the journalists. However, in fact there are still many other ways of having the good media coverage including developing good and professional relationships with the media in order to improve the mutual understanding between agencies and journalists and clearly understanding the requirements of the media in order to provide them with relevant and suitable information.
Some foreign companies when coming to Vietnam, instead of making research and adapting to the local communication style, they apply exactly the same working style without adjustment which leads to conflicts with the local staff. For examples, Western people are usually straightforward while Asian people prefer a more subtle way in presenting their comments or ideas.
Staying inside the box: A lot of businesses stick with the same newspaper and radio plugs. There are many other means to reach out and generate attention. In fact, some publicists now use pitch letters to suggest stories, rather than sending the overused press and media releases.
2. What do clients from other markets need to keep in mind when they plan to do PR in your region?
Vicky Tran: More foreign investors are coming to Vietnam and want to do some PR activities to increase brand awareness and extend their network with key stakeholders. One of the most important stakeholders in Vietnam is the government who plays a dominant position in many different industries. It, then, will be a good idea if a company runs communication campaigns which are associated with governmental organizations such as Charity Fund or Business Association.
At the same time, CSR activities are also getting more attention from not only the government but also the public. During the last couple of years, scandals relating to using contaminated ingredients and chemical waste have adversely affected many international corporate. Thus, associating businesses with a good cause is a wise move in getting support from people and the media. Another advice is to keep checking on the regulations. As Vietnam legal framework is still developing, companies should get to know carefully governmental policies when conducting communication programs. Vietnam is also a country valuing traditions; therefore, foreign companies should avoid all the content that related to sexuality, politics or some temporary sensitive issues.
3. Are there any PR practices in which you think your region differs from PR in other parts of the world?
Carmen Le: In Vietnam, although PR has gained more attention from business, it is still a very new industry and people do not have a good knowledge about Public Relations. Usually, local companies underestimate the role of PR in their businesses. A lot of large national organizations do not have PR /Communication department. Instead, they combine PR and Marketing together. Companies in Vietnam often spend very low budget for PR activities compared to those in other regions.
Learn about the Spanish social network platform Tuenti next week and find out why you have to be flexible if you want to do PR in Spain.
PR Specialists Son Nguyen and Vicky Tran, Crisis Management Manager Carmen Le and Event Specialist Ha Ngo of the VERO Account team joint forces to answer the interview questions. The team, most of whom have graduated from Royal Melbourne Information Technology in Vietnam, brings together a broad background of journalistic and communications experiences having worked for well known media and clients from both B2B and B2C markets.
Vero Public Relations supports clients in expanding their footprint in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia through smart public relations campaigns which effectively build and maintain relationships with key stakeholders, customers and influencers. Vero Public Relations services include branding, media relations, event management, public affairs, issues/crisis management and a broad industry knowledge to support their clients with the development of a comprehensive public relations program which is designed to help clients to make significant strides in growing brand values, sales and profits.
GlobalCom is an award-winning worldwide alliance of Public Relations specialists and agencies that offers international PR services to organisations looking to launch their products and services simultaneously in multiple countries.