ELOQ COMMUNICATIONS ON A MISSION TO ELEVATE PR IN VIETNAM
What is your business name and what does it do?
EloQ Communications is an award-winning Public Relations (PR) and Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) agency located in the bustling center of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Our name, short for Eloquent, describes our mission to facilitate strong, clear, and fluent communication between our clients and their stakeholders. As the first and only Vietnamese PR agency to join the PRCA – the world’s largest and most influential PR association, we handle projects in Vietnam and across the ASEAN region for both international & local clients.
Our wide range of integrated marketing services includes PR, strategic planning, social & influencer marketing, business and product branding, digital media strategy, crisis management and event planning. Throughout our seven years of operation, we have been honored to support up to 100 companies in more than 20 countries around the world, including top-tier clients such as Fortune 500 businesses, multinational and local corporations and fast-growing startups like Viber, AstraZeneca, the Hong Kong Tourism Board and many more.
In addition, we also serve as an established local partner to international brands and companies in Vietnam, helping them tap into the vast potential of the Vietnamese market and connect with the local public through the understanding of key social and cultural insights.
Some of our recent international awards include Ad World Masters’ “Agency of the Year” in 2021 and 2022, “Best PR Agency (Bronze)” at the 2021’s ASEAN PR Excellence Awards, and one of the “Top Southeast Asia Social Media Marketing Companies & Startups” by Best Startup Asia. Additionally, we have also won three categories in the Tech Behemoths Awards 2022 for Advertising, Marketing Strategy, and Social Media Marketing.
What is your story and what motivated you to start this business?
For years, I have always had the dream to elevate the public relations industry in Vietnam to gain the global recognition that it long deserves. The PR sector in Southeast Asia, especially Vietnam, is often seen as underdeveloped in comparison to other countries, leading to a lack of recognition for our strategic planning and creative abilities. Multinational corporations often hire us to simply execute their predetermined plans, which can lead to cultural and communication missteps as global strategies don’t always fit the local context. Brands remain hesitant to trust local PR practitioners, despite many innovative ideas originating from the region. Seeing this juxtaposition first-hand, while also knowing the potential of future practitioners and the distinct progress of the industry every day through my work as an educator, had really motivated me to forge my own path and establish my own boutique PR agency – EloQ Communications, to cater to the needs of foreign clients, highlight the creative capacity of Vietnamese practitioners and to ultimately challenge these preconceptions.
Our participation in the acclaimed PRCA (Public Relations and Communications Association) and PRN (Public Relations Network) in 2019 and 2020 respectively has shown our ability to represent Vietnam on a global scale and given us the chance to uphold our service qualities to meet international standards. These alliances also help our team get exposure to a more diverse network of clients from overseas & access world-leading knowledge and the latest industry know-how to better serve our clients.
What are EloQ Communications’ business strategies?
At EloQ, we focus on the kind of creative thinking that it takes to get noticed in today’s crowded marketing landscape, positioning ourselves as an all-around solutions provider that recognizes the interconnected nature of modern PR and marketing communication. As such, we are able to provide custom communication strategies that best meet the goals of our clients through the combination of our services. We also use our knowledge of local business, culture, regulations, and communications practices, along with connections to the media and various industries to help international companies forge their path in Vietnam and connect with local audiences. We take a personal approach to our relationships with each client, providing effective communication, consultation, genuine feedback and complete metrics to help businesses achieve tangible results.
What challenges do your business and the market face today?
As we all know, industries around the world faced a plethora of challenges in 2021 and 2022 due to Covid-19, war and inflation, and the PR industry was no exception. During this time, our team at EloQ managed to pull through by adopting a flexible strategy that allowed us to focus on collaborating with clients from the healthcare & tech industries like the leading biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the all-in-one digital workplace tool ZOHO, to provide support for people in Vietnam and shape public perception on critical issues like Covid-precautions and the full transition to work-online.
I think the one thing that all businesses can take away from this difficult time is the importance of staying ready and equipping oneself with the knowledge to heed any challenges that come our way – especially in this constantly fluctuating market. Additionally, training people to adapt to different circumstances while maintaining inner strengths and resilience is also a vital skill.
As for our team, after seven years as an established business, we still face challenges to stay ahead of the competition in a rapidly changing market and finding new ways to innovate and improve our services. Additionally, we are constantly striving to attract and retain top talent and manage our resources effectively to ensure profitability.
An issue I noticed that often gets overlooked at SMEs is internal communications, staff retention and staff development. Especially with smaller agencies where people are very tight-knit and often work closely together; when they leave, they often leave together which makes it very challenging for the company. So after recruitment, you are really required to enact effective leadership by fostering a positive work environment and forging organizational bonds through internal communications to retain employees and reduce turnover rates over time. That’s what I think agency heads should be more aware of.
What are the current opportunities for your business & market?
Believe it or not, the difficult COVID-19 pandemic that we faced just over a year ago has accelerated digital transformation across all industries by several years. This is particularly evident in the field of public relations, which tends to overlap with many other sectors, e.g: in those days it was healthcare and transportation. This presents an evident opportunity that promises a significant impact which is technology.
Data-driven PR tools, insights analytics, and AI.. will soon play a role in how communications and businesses operate. With these tools, we can now engage with audiences in previously unimaginable ways. For example, using data-driven insights, we can develop more personalized and targeted campaigns that resonate with audiences on a deeper level, allowing for stronger relationships and loyalty. Through the integration of data analytics, we can also track the performance of our campaigns, measure their impact, and engagement and adjust our strategies accordingly to produce more efficient work.
With such rapid change and forthcoming opportunities, businesses need to be continually innovative and forward-thinking to stay ahead of the curve. It is also important that they leverage these tools into their business strategies to stay relevant and competitive in this fast-paced digital landscape. On our part, EloQ is also planning to develop an AI tool to simplify the process of media relations within the region so businesses can better work with the news media and measure the effectiveness of their media relations activities.
What is your advice to others about business?
For budding PR entrepreneurs:
Adapting to change is essential for success. You have to be able to transform and align your strategies to meet the ever-evolving needs of clients, especially in this digital age. Additionally, offering quality personalized services should come as a priority as this will help you become a reliable partner for clients. Another piece of advice is to understand the importance of a strong team with diverse skill sets and invest in employee training & development as this will really help you deliver outstanding results. Finally, building a business plan that prioritizes sustainability and ethical practices like supporting social and environmental initiatives will help your business ensure sustainability and long-term success while also making a positive impact on the world.
For female leaders:
Strive to possess courage, and confidence and seize an opportunity if it presents itself. This has been a valuable asset throughout my entrepreneurial journey, especially in an industry where 80% of managing positions consist of males while up to 60% – 80% of PR practitioners are females. Though I understand that making mistakes is a part of the learning process and being an entrepreneur, a female leader, and a business owner brings its own set of challenges, having a daring attitude is the essential power needed to conquer these obstacles.
Finally, a last piece of advice is to develop a robust business plan, cultivate a strong network, and remain resilient. This will act as a guide for your objectives and a framework for expansion, helping you identify potential partners, investors, and customers, and persist through challenges
What are the challenges of doing PR in Vietnam?
A couple of them that I can think of: The industry is often seen as underdeveloped compared to other countries. People still don’t understand the nature and role of PR and often put it under the marketing umbrella or mistake it for advertising. There’s also a need to recognize the importance of diversity, for example: the values that female practitioners and leaders bring.
About Dr. Clāra (Tuong Minh) Ly-Le: With over a decade of experience in the PR and Communications industry, Dr. Ly-Le has a deep understanding of the business’ pulse and is passionate in helping companies tell the story of their brands and amplify their message in the Vietnamese market to cut through the noise and attract the audience they seek. She is an expert in crisis management in the social media landscape and intercultural & new media communication. Her ultimate goal is to elevate the PR industry in Vietnam, provide hands-on learning opportunities for aspiring professionals, and foster a sense of pride in the next generation of PR practitioners. Alongside being the managing director of EloQ Communications, Dr. Ly Le is also the Vice Dean of the Public Relations and Communications Faculty at Van Lang University – Vietnam, where she oversees the education of over 8,000 PR students and the management of 50 lecturers & staff. She believes that education and formal knowledge is the backbone to delivering successful PR campaigns.
* You can reach her on: https://www.linkedin.com/in/minh-ly-le/ and https://clara.ly-le.info/about.php
* Additionally, you can visit the EloQ Communications’ website at: https://www.eloqasia.com
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