Home to over 650 million people, South East Asia is one of the most densely populated regions globally. It’s known for its beautiful coastline, diverse culture and fantastic cuisine, but it is also an emerging economic powerhouse.
The region is a hub for trade due to its strategic location between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, fostering economic connectivity. And with this emerging economy, comes a quickly changing landscape. The countries in South East Asia are known as incredibly tech-savvy and, as a result, the region is driving significant advances in business, finance, and education.
For this reason, it is important for business schools and universities from around the world to consider doing PR in South East Asia. PR is a fantastic way to highlight an institution’s strengths, programmes and opportunities to prospective students, improve brand recognition, and facilitate partnerships and collaborations in the region.
So, how do you do PR in South East Asia?
Embrace cultural diversity
It is important to remember that South East Asia is made up of 11 different countries and the cultures will differ from each individual country. Each country will have its own unique societal norms and business etiquettes, and understanding these differences will lead to an effective campaign. An example of this is, in countries like Thailand and Indonesia, relationships are highly valued, so building personal connections and trust is essential before conducting business. Which brings me to my next point:
Establish personal connections
Relationship building is important regardless of what country, but in South East Asia it is the single most important thing in order to have a successful campaign. Building personal connections and fostering trust with journalists, editors, and even your audience in the region is paramount. Investing time to have meetings, phone calls, and networking activities, as well as ensuring you meet deadlines, and keep who you’re working with in the loop at all times, will lay the groundwork for a truly successful relationship.
The main part of any successful campaign is to create narratives that will resonate with your audience. Understanding the values, traditions, and aspirations of your audience allows you to create compelling content that strikes a chord. Furthermore, tailoring content to align with local culture helps to ensure relevance and engagement.
Research the media landscape
Understanding the media landscapes of South East Asian countries is vital for effective communication. Each country will have different mediums that are popular, whether it’s traditional media or digital, and each country will have different topics that are of interest.
For example, Singapore has a highly connected population and is at the forefront of digital adoption. A considerable portion of the population relies on online platforms, social media, and news apps for accessing news content. Similarly, Malaysia has a growing digital news landscape, with a substantial portion of the population relying on online news portals, social media platforms, and mobile apps for accessing news content. Key publications for Malaysia include: The Star, Malay Mail, and the New Straits Times.
Whereas, media in Vietnam are considered more traditional, especially in the more rural areas, with people tending to prefer print newspapers, and focusing predominantly on topics such as business and finance – The Asean Briefing being a key publication.
Thailand has a diverse media landscape that caters to various preferences among its residents. That being said, traditional mediums still hold significant influence, particularly among certain demographics and for specific types of content. So, in this case research is required to determine which medium and publication works best for your audience. The Nation Thailand is a publication with a digital focus, whereas The Bangkok Post Newspaper is predominantly print based.
In order to have a successful PR campaign you need to be thorough, and make sure you’re targeting not only the correct publication, but the correct country, with the right story.
A localised approach is key
A one size fits all approach will not work in South East Asia, as I said before the region is made up of 11 countries, each with their own culture. So, tailoring your PR strategy to suit each country is essential. This can include translating content and pitches into local languages, understanding the media landscape, and utilising platforms favoured by the local population. For instance, while Singapore leans heavily on digital media, other countries may still have a strong affinity for traditional print media.
Utilise social media
The prevalence of social media and digital platforms in South East Asia offers plenty of opportunities for institutions to engage with their audience. A well-executed PR strategy can harness the power of these platforms to connect, communicate, and build brand recognition. By setting clear objectives and the target audience, choosing the right platforms and having consistent brand messaging, this will ensure you have effective outreach.
Patience and adaptability
Finally, patience, flexibility and adaptability are key during any PR efforts undertaken in South East Asia. The emphasis on relationship building, and the diverse cultural environment means a long-term approach is necessary. Understanding and respecting local practises, while remaining open to adaptation, will contribute to a successful campaign.
In sum, building a strong PR presence in South East Asia isn't just about short-term gains; it's about laying the groundwork for long-term growth and sustainability. Establishing a positive brand image, cultivating relationships, and understanding the intricacies of each market contribute to continuous success in the region. After all, PR is a long-term game.
If you want to learn more about how we can help you achieve your PR goals in international media, contact BlueSky Education today.
Katie is an Account Manager at BlueSky Education.
She is an education communications specialist with journalistic flair thanks to a degree in Multimedia Journalism and a stint as a reporter at the Financial Times.