Inside in-house: Groupon's APAC head of comms on engaging consumers and 'storysharing'

Groupon aims to offer people the best experiences in their city. Amy Glancey, head of communications, APAC at the daily deals site, explains how she measures success and why April Fool's Day is giving her sleepless nights.

Amy Glancey
Amy Glancey

It’s a little over six years since collective buying site Groupon opened its doors across Asia, having launched into key markets including Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines and Taiwan in 2010, with Thailand following in 2012.

Last September however, Groupon announced the closure of its sites in the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand, alongside others in Europe, citing the need to ‘focus energy and dollars on fewer countries’.

It’s a strategy that’s already had an impact – in February, the company reported stronger than expected earnings, with revenue of US$917.2 million against expectations of US$845.9 million.

Amy Glancey, head of communications for APAC at the brand, says that with "no region more culturally diverse than Asia, we are constantly iterating - and reiterating – to ensure our offering is relevant in each market.

"This extends to every section of the business, from product mix to editorial tone to the PR programmes we execute."

Glancey joined Groupon in 2012, initially as head of communications for Australia & New Zealand.

Prior to Groupon, her experience spanned the private and public sectors in Australia and the UK, where she spent several years working in government as well as in the hospitality industry.

Twelve months after she joined Groupon, she was given the opportunity to become head of communications for APAC, leading the team across the region. Based in Australia, she hasn't looked back since. 

Engaging customers

As a daily deals site, tying in with major events, seasonal festivities and celebratory occasions is key to Groupon's comms strategy.

The peak Christmas and holiday season may be over for another year, but Glancey and her team have hit the ground running in 2016.

Last month they were busy executing campaigns for Chinese New Year, with the company breaking a world record for the most expensive yee sang (a dish of fish, vegetables and rice crackers, eaten during the New Year to symbolise health and prosperity) created in Malaysia, in collaboration with Ruyi & Lyn restaurant.  

Now, Glancey is looking forward to next month.

"If you ask me what’s keeping me awake at night and what I’m most excited about, it’s April Fools Day – it’s my favourite day of the PR calendar," she says.

"Each year we rack our brains for the most creative and fun way to engage our customers on April 1st. My lips are sealed on the details though."

Glancey works with a number of agencies, including Edelman in Groupon's existing Southeast Asian markets and "ideas" PR agency One Green Bean in Australia which, she says, continues to push the brand creatively and lead many of its "market-first" initiatives.  

"Edelman has a steadfast network across the region and understands that Groupon doesn’t approach PR like most organisations," she explains.

"The agency understands implicitly that press coverage and AVE is not a robust measure of success; rather, it works with us on how to generate meaningful ways of engaging with our customers."

Like any international brand with a significant global footprint, localising product and content is critical in ensuring Groupon's relationships with customers and merchants are genuine and authentic. 

From storytelling to storysharing

Glancey believes the evolution of communications as a profession is at a pivotal point.  

"We started with "storytelling" – largely characterised by push marketing where brands told their stories in a linear direction," she says. "Since then, with the advent of social media and the proliferation of user-generated news sites like Buzzfeed and Huffington Post, we operate in a much more democratic environment of ‘storysharing’.

"This is where everyone is a publisher and consumers have a platform to share their own content and experiences in real-time, potentially to a very large public audience."

This has prompted Glancey and her team to be more creative, transparent and authentic in their approach to communications.

"To quote Richard Edelman: 'the solution to every problem is not a new advertising campaign', rather, we need to capture the minds and hearts of consumers through creative storytelling," she adds.

If you ask Glancey what she values most in communications professionals, it’s creativity and the ability to ‘ideate’ – but more importantly – the ability to bring that idea to life.

Her belief is that a great story will always win if it is given breath through powerful storytelling and strong execution.

Meeting the wider business need

Groupon is a data-led company and the success of Glancey's team hinges on its ability to drive and demonstrate real business impact.

Media coverage is not enough and, Glancey says, "don’t get me started on AVE!"

In measuring the success of Groupon's PR activities, Glancey will always demonstrate how campaigns drive substantive impact, by connecting the results to key business metrics like customer activation, merchant acquisition, website traffic and gross bookings.

Glancey believes that 2016 offers a huge opportunity for comms professionals to shine brighter than ever before.

"The dialogue around our industry has never been richer - and it's up to us to seize the moment.

"We need to recognise the value of our ideas, and push ourselves both creatively and strategically; in order to escalate PR into a new realm where we're driving real business impact and have the power to change the way people live their lives." 

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