Vero’s Sarut Tangteerapong shares key insights
Sarut Tangteerapong, Vice President, PR and corporate communications expert, has had an active year working with some of the biggest brands in Thailand’s automotive, FMCG, tech, and electronics sectors.
In the spirit of preparing for 2022, we sat down with Sarut to unearth top trends in PR that brands, business leaders, and communications professionals should watch for in the year ahead.
PR is not about the next day, it’s about the next hour!
“10 years ago, during a PR push, clients expected output to be returned within a couple of days. But right now, for example, we’re continually running e-commerce promotions like 11.11 or 12.12, and a lot of brands join that monthly campaign, these brands will usually want a campaign draft within 3-4 hours. It’s no longer about what we do for the next day. It’s about what we do in the next hour.”
In 2022, speed will be more important than ever. With smartphones constantly in their hands, consumers crave information fast. Even with impactful content, within an hour of it being published, it’s already old news. With that said, focusing on speed does not mean you should skimp on quality.
Sarut also stresses: “We are now in the era of doers, not learners. With how quickly things are moving and the number of platforms that come and go, there’s simply not enough time to learn it all before you do it. Sometimes, you just have to go for it before you understand everything. It goes back to Clubhouse: one of our clients was thinking about using it at the beginning of 2021, and by the time they had decided, it was already too late.”
PR is definitely on the rise again
Just because we’re in an era where everyone can produce and disseminate media in some form or other, does not mean it’s death to traditional media. In the era of fake news, credible media outlets will survive and thrive.
More trustworthy new publications will be born, like The Standard and The Matter in Thailand. This positions PR agencies and communications experts in an important position as consultants, and mediators:
Sarut explains: “Not only do we know who the top media are for every single industry, we also speak to them every single day. And just as everything is changing so rapidly, so is media. What they want and need changes regularly. What you pitch to them today might be irrelevant tomorrow. PR experts know what the media wants in a way other stakeholders simply don’t. We can advise on exactly what brands should be doing in terms of content to get the right kind of attention, tailored to a specific industry, outlet and audience.”
Thailand’s launch of the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) in 2021 is a testament to the rise of PR in Thailand. In an era where consumers, employees, and stakeholders require more nuanced and authentic narratives from brands and companies, the value of PR and earned media cannot be underestimated.
Online will continue to be mainstream
Most clients are now directing all their advertising and PR money online. This is natural as most people these days get all their information online. The dominance of the online world was only further accelerated by COVID-19 as people stayed at home and used their phones more.
“In 2022, our dependence on online will only grow. Even the people we thought would never convert to online have done so – I never imagined by grandfather shopping on Shopee and using the Line messaging app but due to the pandemic, he now does,” explains Sarut.
He continues: “If you recall, five years ago, there were many media publications in Thailand considering going into digital TV and broadcasting and many thought it was a fantastic opportunity for businesses with a clear career path for many. But now, everyone watches YouTube or Netflix, no one watches TV. Even five years ago we thought it would take a lot of time before online became mainstream. But it’s mainstream right now. Many clients are starting to prioritize online media over traditional media.
More watching and listening
There will be more watching and more listening in 2022, as people continue to consume more content in the form of video on social media and podcasts. Watching videos or clips on YouTube, TikTok, or Instagram, and listening to music, audiobooks, or podcasts on platforms such as Spotify will continue to not only be the preferred method of consuming content, but the number of hours consumers spend listening or watching will increase.
Audio content to shine,
As people grow tired of staring too long at a screen, the appeal of audio content will also grow. With podcasts such as THE STANDARD Podcast and Mission To The Moon enjoying sky-high listening times in 2021, it’s clear that the podcast space is set to boom in 2022 in Thailand, with more brands and KOLs entering the space to create specialized content within their fields.
“Brands must act quickly if they want to take advantage of a communication style that speaks to their audience. CLUBHOUSE, the social audio app made a big impact in Thailand this year but it’s already experiencing waning interest by Thai consumers as the year ends. 2022 will see more of these platforms catering to the audio content market pop up, and more going away just as quickly as they started.”
Brands can also use podcasts to sell their products more effectively, as podcast listeners tend to be more engaged. “We worked with one eyewear brand this year to launch their new glasses and brought in respectable KOLs and celebrities in Thailand who talked about the importance of seeing clearly and how having the correct eyewear is essential to their work. Many tuned in to the discussion and the engagement was high. If the key message is strong, listeners will go buy the product. I expect to see more of this type of real and authentic content in 2022.”
More trust in the agency-client relationship
“My feeling is that there are trusting relationships between clients and agencies and that this trend will continue. Yes, they may want things done quicker, but they also trust we will deliver. It’s quite refreshing.”
Sarut continues: “In the past, clients were generally stricter with sticking to the message they want to deliver, but today our best clients look to us as the consultants and as the ones who know what we’re doing, and they trust us to localize campaigns to fit with brand values while also delivering results.”
It all boils down to, does the client want us to deliver what they think their audience wants; or does the client want us to deliver what we know the audience wants.
Global warming and climate change are everyone’s big issues
Sadly, it took COVID-19 to trigger the world to care more about global warming and climate change. However, now that everyone is more or less on the same page, consumers aren’t going to be impressed by the types of CSR campaigns that would have worked in the past.
Sarut explains: “It’s death to the era of donating masks, planting trees, and taking photos of your philanthropic endeavors. Consumers are smarter than ever, and they just won’t buy into it. Clear and well-thought-through Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) policies should be everyone’s priority and brands must look for ways they can be truly sustainable. It’s more impressive if say, your entire factory or company building is running on solar power, or you’ve completely banned plastic and converted to paper packaging. Consumers are thinking about the impact of their spending, and they want to know that it’s being used for good, rather than contributing to global warming and climate change.”
2021 saw a lot of changes in the world, and in the field of PR. We predict that PR will evolve even quicker next year, giving brands more opportunities than ever to build long-lasting trust with their consumers.