PRecious Communications is proud to have been part of GlobalCom PR Network’s annual meeting on the Greek island of Crete. The global event was host to over 50 marketing and public relations professionals from 30 countries. During the meeting, Lars Voedisch, Founder and Principal Consultant at PRecious Communications, shared PRecious Communication’s expertise on the value that public relations can offer to startups. During his presentation, Lars spoke about the challenges faced by Southeast Asian startups and how PR partners can add value to businesses in the region.
Southeast Asia’s Growing Startup Ecosystem
Southeast Asia is expected to be the world’s fourth-largest economy behind the US, the EU and China by 2030. The region boasts a staggering number of active startups and is home to numerous unicorns such as Lazada, Tokopedia and Traveloka. In fact, two Southeast Asian startups, Grab and GOJEK, have already achieved decacorn status (market valuation of over USD$10 billion). At the end of 2018, Southeast Asia was home to over 5,800 active startups and this number is expected to grow even larger in the future.
The region offers a unique opportunity to startups from all over the world to access a diverse and highly profitable market. However, startups face a unique set of challenges in their quest for growth and revenue.
Communication Challenges Faced by Southeast Asian Startups
Startups are often at the beginning of the business life cycle. As a result, the core team and founders are often young and inexperienced. While having a team that brings fresh ideas to the business is a good thing, relatively inexperienced business leaders are sometimes called out for a perceived lack of technical and strategic abilities. It is important for leaders of startups to quickly establish themselves as thought leaders in their chosen industry to address these issues early on.
Young businesses bring innovative products and services in highly specialised markets. They are run by subject matter experts who might not be aware of what PR is and what it is not. As a result, the communications efforts of startups are not always as strategic as they should be. A dedicated communications team can go a long way in ensuring that PR efforts are planned and executed effectively. However, startups operate on extremely slim margins and making good use of their resources is crucial to the success of the business.
Southeast Asia is a market that is extremely diverse and each market is home to a unique media environment. Navigating multiple media landscapes can present a challenge to companies who wish to expand their business to the entire region. Establishing thought leadership, ensuring a successful launch and developing a brand voice for each market is a challenge that lean teams might not have the bandwidth to tackle.
How Can Public Relations Agencies Offer True Value to Startups?
Startups are agile and value speed and efficiency in all their work. The same is true for communications. From putting together initial proposals to getting the business coverage in the media, it is key for startups to be able to keep their outreach efficient. PR partners can provide a dedicated team to focus on and quickly respond to queries from the media. It is also important to set realistic goals and partners who have practised PR for a long time can aid in developing communications plans that are feasible and effective.
Finding the key aspects of the business is another area in which the expertise of PR partners can be leveraged. Businesses which offer multiple products and services can often struggle to find their unique selling proposition (USP). This makes it difficult for customers to relate to the core of the brand, which can remain undefined. PR partners help business leaders build a brand identity that is relatable and impactful by shining light on the key aspects of the business.
Ultimately, every startup wants to grow, and visibility in the media greatly increases those chances. When executed well, communications efforts can help build legitimacy, increase trust and establish thought leadership. All these factors play a part in making sure that a startup is attractive to potential investors and customers.
As the Southeast Asian startup ecosystem becomes more saturated, PR and communications will play an important role in ensuring that young businesses reach their target audience effectively and efficiently.
PRecious Communication’s dedicated startup practice – PRecious Sparks, is the regional leader in startup and investor public relations. The team has worked with several fintech clients and with over 150 young brands, disruptors and innovators, including 15 unicorns and has supported over S$10 billion in funding and M&A activities.
To find out more about getting your international startup off to a flying start in Southeast Asia, get in touch with the PRecious Sparks team.