Step Stones to Global PR-Vietnam

The communication specialists at VERO Public Relations give us an insight into the general development of PR and current media and communication trends. Recent PR examples demonstrate how to utilize these trends to do successful PR in Vietnam.

PR Specialists Son Nguyen and Vicky Tran, Crisis Management Manager Carmen Le and Event Specialist Ha Ngo from the VERO Account team came together to answer our PR questions. Most of the team recently graduated from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Vietnam. Together they have a broad background in journalism and communication, having worked for well known media and clients from both B2B and B2C markets.

Vero Public Relations supports clients in expanding their business 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 industry knowledge to support their clients with the development of a comprehensive public relations program. This is designed to help clients to make significant strides in growing brand values, sales and profits.

Can you describe common mistakes foreign companies make?

HN: Many foreign PR companies think that in order to create good news or stories in the newspapers and magazines, they have to pay for the journalists. However, in fact there are still many other ways of having 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.

Instead of researching and adapting to the local communication style when coming to Vietnam, some foreign companies will apply exactly the same working style without adjustment which leads to conflicts with the local staff. For example, Western people are usually straight-forward while Asian people prefer a more subtle way in presenting their comments or ideas. Or 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.

What do clients from other markets need to keep in mind when they plan to do PR in your region?

VT: 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. It plays a dominant position in many different industries. It will be a good idea if a company runs communication campaigns which are associated with government organizations such as a 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 corporations. Thus, associating businesses with a good cause is a wise move for getting support from people and the media. Another piece of advice is to keep checking the regulations. As Vietnamese legal framework is still developing, companies should get to know government policies carefully when conducting communication programs. Vietnam is also a country which values traditions; therefore, foreign companies should avoid all the content that related to sexuality, politics or some temporary sensitive issues.

Are there any PR practices in which you think your region differs from PR in other parts of the world?

CL: 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 departments. Instead, they combine PR and Marketing together. Companies in Vietnam often have very low budgets for PR activities compared to those in other regions.

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