PR's new frontiers

PRWeek highlights the global reach of comms and public relations by going one on one with agency leaders in the hottest emerging markets.

PRWeek extends its spotlight on the global reach of comms and public relations by going one on one with agency leaders in the hottest emerging markets. 

South Africa

Robyn de Villiers, founder and chairman, Arcay Burson-Marsteller

Is growth happening throughout the marketplace or in specific sectors?
There is definitely a big focus on corporate social responsibility, sustainability, and a growing recognition of the importance of reputation management, with the byproducts of that being crisis and issue management.

Specifically with CSR, it's a prerequisite of doing business in South Africa and Africa as a whole that people are expecting you to make a contribution to the area. With reputation, PR is going away from just being a media liaison or organizing events. Communicators are now sitting at the boardroom table. 

Healthcare is also a big area, with special focus on specific health issues such as tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. Continent-wide telecommunications is a big focus as we catch up with other markets.

Clients we've won recently include DHL, Herbalife, and CNN as well as some other Turner channels.

What services are clients asking you for most and why?
Every client to some extent wants help with corporate profiling. We have also been called upon to do damage control.

Along with this, we are offering communications training for staff members in charge of internal
communications at our clients' companies, in addition to traditional things such as executive media training.

Many people didn't have the right level of skills so we designed training workshops to sell to clients. We cover issues including presentation skills, listening skills, and personal branding.

What could go wrong?
We've learned through past mistakes that you can't sit in your office in Johannesburg and figure out
the best ways to communicate in Nigeria. You need to go there.

From a client perspective, there are concerns about government corruption, labor practices, and those things are magnified in different countries.

There is also an increased fear that South Africa is not a safe place. In other parts of Africa, you're dealing with child labor and gender equality issues. These things make it slightly more challenging to do business in Africa.

From a PR perspective, you have to think about what [certain] allegations will do to a brand.

What do you love most about South Africa?
I was born long before the end of apartheid, in the pre-Nelson Mandela era. I grew up in a time when whites and blacks were separate. We have made massive changes, ones I never thought we would do peacefully. I have seen how society has changed.

My children were born just before the end of apartheid and I've seen the changes that have happened since then and it's fantastic.


Indira Abidin, MD, Fortune PR Strategic Communications

Why is it hot?
Indonesia is among the top five most populated countries in the world, with the largest Muslim population. It's South East Asia's largest country and its annual growth rate exceeded 5% in seven of the past eight years, and is expected to be 7% in 2013.

Indonesians love to consume. Despite criticism against it, consumerism has saved Indonesia
from financial crisis.

The country has also become more politically stable. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has been recognized as a market-friendly reformer, and has successfully improved investors' trust here.

Is growth happening throughout the marketplace or in specific sectors?
According to Nielsen's Advertising Expenditure Report in December 2011, telecommunications grew 89% to $37.5 million, the biggest sector in the country, followed by haircare (11%), and government and political information (27%).

Fast-moving consumer goods are also very strong. Unilever Indonesia has doubled its size over the last five years. In terms of purchasing power, the size of the Indonesian business is getting close to the size of the North American business.

P&G also created a manufacturing plant in Indonesia to better tap into the promising market.

How developed is the PR profession in the area?
Indonesia is predominantly an advertising market, but marketers and corporate leaders are learning more about the value of PR.

As media becomes more fragmented and placement becomes more expensive, many brands have reallocated their budgets to PR and brand activation.

Most marketers and corporations still consider communications and PR professionals as publicists, not strategists. Many clients still think it has limited capabilities in playing a strategic role in achieving
a bigger goal.

PR firms in Indonesia are complaining about recruitment. Leaders say it is easier to look for clients than good employees.

What services are clients asking you for most and why?
Transportation, led by Citilink,  Garuda's low-cost airline, contributes to 27% of gross profit. Banking and finance, led by BTN, Indonesia's state-owned bank, contributes 16%. The third major contributor is the political sector, at 13%. 

What do you love most about Indonesia?

It's home. Every morning I wake up to azan – a call for prayer – that reminds me to pray five times a day. As the largest Muslim country, it's easy to take for granted that everything is Muslim-friendly, which is not the case in most other countries.

Abu Dhabi

Mamoon Sbeih, MD of Arab region, APCO Worldwide

Why is it hot?
Abu Dhabi is a very exciting market for a few reasons. The most important one is that the government has been heavily investing in projects, including infrastructure, health, education, tourism, and cultural projects, including building Formula 1 race tracks and a port.

We have an energy that is quite healthy in growth and development. This was the same energy we witnessed in Dubai from 2003 to 2006, and if you look at Dubai,
it's far more built up than the rest of the region.

Is growth happening throughout the marketplace or in specific sectors?
We are witnessing growth in tourism and transportation logistics, but for us, the growth has not
been in tourism itself.

Our overall growth in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – a federation of seven principalities including Dubai and Abu Dhabi – since last year is estimated at about 15% to 20% and comes almost exclusively from new public affairs and government clients. Federal and local governments have been giving a lot of attention to customer service. Part of that is communicating to the public and helping them understand what services to expect.

One client is Sharjah, the third largest emirate of the UAE. They have asked us to help build their communications across government departments. Our most significant client is Masdar City, one of the largest renewable energy projects in the region. It includes building a carbon neutral city.
How developed is the PR profession in the area?

My rough estimate is 60% of the PR industry in the region sits in the UAE and the hubs are Dubai
and Abu Dhabi.

There are more than 150 PR agencies here. It is a sector that is growing at about 20% to 25% a year.

What services are clients asking you for most and why?
Core services are media relations. Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai are media cities. CNN's studios are in Abu Dhabi and hundreds of publications and newspapers are there.

Public affairs has also become a growing trend. Companies and global businesses ask us how to deal with governments, not only in the UAE, but across the region in terms of market access and dealing with cultural relations.

We have government clients and lots of private clients, such as Sony, Mars, and projects with Johnson & Johnson.

What do you love most about Abu Dhabi?
The energy and the excitement about the future. It's an emirate that is heading toward achieving its objectives and long-term goals. For example, we have a project to launch a major new port, and we're very glad we're part of that.


Shirley Hanley-Ryder, regional director, Grayling Turkey, Russia, CIS, and SEE

Why is it hot?
Turkey is one of the world's biggest consumers of social media along with most other emerging markets. 

There is a growing middle class and a young population who are keen on adopting the latest trends in the world.

A growing economy is a key reason why Turkey is hot, along with its strategic location as the only country in both Europe and Asia.   

Is growth happening throughout the marketplace or in specific sectors?
The government's 2023 targets include plans for improvement in a wide range of sectors. Minister Zafer Çaglayan announced in August that direct foreign investment to Turkey has reached $8.2 billion, up 21% compared to 2011.

Growth is particularly strong in areas such as construction, healthcare, automotive, textiles, and pharmaceutical. Energy is probably the hottest sector in Turkey, with growing energy demand for industrialization and a lack of local natural gas and oil resources.

How developed is the PR profession in the area?
Many of the international players are here, although almost exclusively through acquisition.

Grayling set up its Turkish office in 2005 and has grown organically. It's more difficult to retain talent than develop from scratch, so a graduate trainee program is a very important part of our HR strategy. Close to native English fluency is expected, which makes recruitment more difficult.  

However, public affairs [in Turkey] is much less developed and is generally undertaken in house.

Grayling Turkey differentiates itself by being able to offer an integrated PR and public affairs service. Our current head of public affairs was trained in Brussels and returned to Turkey two years ago to establish our public affairs unit. 

What services are clients asking you for most and why?
Client demands tend to be more for regulatory and political monitoring, and stakeholder mapping and engagement, rather than political lobbying. 

Social media and digital are less established here than in mature markets and I expect this to be the largest growth area for the immediate future.

Sustainability and CSR projects are becoming increasingly hot topics for clients. 

What could go wrong?
The euro crisis and its potential negative impact on export potential. The trade deficit is a big issue in Turkey and the government is doing many things to increase its exports and lower its dependence on imports, especially in the energy sector.

Obviously, tension in Turkey's bordering countries must be seen as a potential obstacle.


Bui Ngoc Anh, managing director, AVC Edelman

Why is it hot?
Despite global economic uncertainty, Vietnam has tripled its GDP over the last decade. In the second quarter of 2012, GDP grew nearly 5% over the same period.

Vietnam's workforce is well educated and young, a good indicator of future growth. And there are 90 million consumers. The ever-expanding middle class has enormous purchasing power and is keen on the consumption of electronic goods, communications, and transportation.

Vietnam's industrial base has expanded to a point where it not only manufactures and exports  raw materials, but also employs sophisticated technology, capable of operating in an increasingly complex environment.

Is growth happening throughout the marketplace or in specific sectors?
Export plays a key role in economic growth. Therefore it is essential for us to stay competitive among the most important export sectors, such as fisheries, clothing, shoes, oil and gas, furniture, coffee, rice, pepper, and other agricultural raw materials. 

Manufacturing, information technology, retail, and high-tech industries together constitute a fast-growing part of the economy. Vietnam is also one of the largest oil producers in the region.

What services are clients asking you for most and why?
Our clients are often asking for consumer PR, digital and social media, and corporate practices, as well as public affairs and CSR. They see PR as the major driver in effective brand education, buzz creation, and trust building.

The PR market has tripled in size in the last five years. Digital and social media is gaining influence since Vietnam's young population responds well to interactive campaigns rather than the usual one-way communications approach, although many digital marketers are still not practicing an engagement-led approach and struggle to demonstrate ROI.

We have been working with Unilever to develop strategic PR and social media plans and execute campaigns for brands including Vim, Comfort, and Sunlight. We also have provided corporate communications counseling for healthcare and nutritional clients such as Abbott and Roche.

What do you love most about Vietnam?
I love the energy of the country and people. Vietnamese people are passionate, optimistic, and hard-working. They are open to new things and willing to make changes.

The young generation is more broadly educated and influenced by Western culture, but they still cherish traditional values such as the role of the family, respect for their elders, and belief in the power of knowledge.


Leopoldo “Polo” Garza, president and CEO, Ogilvy & Mather Mexico

Why is it hot?
Mexico's GDP is now $1.1 trillion and growing, making it the 12th largest economy in the world.

We export more than Brazil and are the seventh largest producers of automobiles in the world.

As of 2010, $6 billion is being spent each year on communications services, which includes advertising, marketing, and PR.

Is growth happening throughout the marketplace or in specific sectors?
There is more focus on customer relationship management, as companies figure out ways to get more loyalty from consumers.

More companies are targeting consumers at the point of sale, where the consumer makes a
decision in seven to 10 seconds. There has been additional growth in the telecommunications, automobile, and banking industries.

What services are clients asking you for most and why? 
Reputation management is a big thing. We tell clients how to respond to a crisis. There is also some public and government affairs work. The jobs we do on the pharmaceutical side, so much is influencing legislation. We get to know what buttons to push and create relationships.

What could go wrong?
The industry needs to do more to get companies to invest in marketing services in a sophisticated manner. We need hard data and very good metrics that will animate our clients.

Overall, Mexico is a tremendous opportunity for investors.

I'm optimistic and have faith that we have the basis to grow.

I really don't foresee any big obstacles. We have some structural reforms that have been passed and are going to go through. We have ports, airports, railroads, and highways that will be worked on. 

In the next decade, Mexico will be a top 10 economy.

What do you love most about Mexico? 
Mexico is a great country in every sense of the word. We know how to do business on a local and worldwide basis, and we are a country  of great values.

I am very proud to be Mexican and will spend the rest of my life promoting my beloved country. We have proven that when you want to succeed we have every-thing we need in Mexico.


Mircea Tomescu, MD, Graffiti PR, part of BBDO

Why is it hot?
Romania has a secure labor force, cheap rates compared to the rest of the European Union, and advanced skillsets in top industries including computer science and healthcare.

Many multinational companies have or are considering opening capabilities or tech centers here.

Is growth happening throughout the marketplace or in specific sectors?
Some industries, such as technology, are rising fast. IBM, Microsoft, and Google have some kind of capability or tech center. The automotive industry is also growing.

Romania is a nice base for multinational companies because there's a good taxation policy inside the EU, but with more efficient labor and production costs.

For Romania, 2009 was the harshest economic landing in 20 years, with the whole Romanian communications market shrinking aggressively. Between 2010 and 2012, the communications market continued to decrease 3% to 4% per year, while the PR industry stayed on relatively flat budgets.

However, since 2010 Graffiti PR's organic revenue managed to grow each year by an average of 14%. We now have more consultants, clients, and revenues than in 2008.

How developed is the PR profession in the area?
The first agencies appeared around 1991 or 1992. [The industry] is now trying to leapfrog many stages, and evolve very quickly beyond traditional services such as media relations into different areas, for example CSR and digital.

For some years PR was just considered nice support to have in talking to journalists, and there were problems in understanding what the real value of PR was. Now many companies are considering PR part of their business strategies.

What services are clients asking you for most and why?
Our services are very balanced between the corporate and brand side. Our crisis and issues management service has grown because we as a market have developed quite a lot in the last five to six years.

The firm's sustainability offering is also one of our biggest advantages in the market.

Major clients include Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, British American Tobacco, Erste Foundation, which is Austria's biggest savings bank foundation, and oil and gas company OMV Petrom, the largest company in Romania.

What could go wrong?
Print media is shrinking and the most efficient media remain TV followed closely by the Internet. 

Romania has the second-fastest Internet speed in the world after South Korea. People watch 22 hours of TV per week, and spend 18 hours per week on the Web.

This puts pressure on classic media such as radio, print, and trade press. Before 2008 it was more balanced, and you had all media at your disposal, but now we focus a lot on TV and digital because there you have the largest audience and longest time span.

Also, multinationals put a lot of pressure on cost. They need to grow and cut costs, and this puts pressure on our industry.

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