It is one of the perennial questions that has accompanied the rise of Asia’s brands — what will it take for them to conquer global markets? The international success of many Japanese players in the Eighties and Nineties suggested that the groundwork had been laid
for this region’s companies to expand and prosper beyond their home markets.
Yet, it has hardly been plain sailing since; Korea aside, it is difficult to think of too many companies from China, India and Southeast Asia that have achieved the kind of global brand recognition we take for granted when it comes to Western-based MNCs.
Of course, US and UK corporates have some significant historical advantages on their side, not least their industrialisation and expansion at a time when many Asian countries remained colonised. But more recent factors also serve to complicate this equation, not least in terms of geopolitical tensions that specifically impact cross-border relationships and reputations, but also encompassing such areas as talent, compliance and partnerships.
And yet, ambitions remain strong. A recent study from UOB reveals that more than 80% of business in Asia are aiming to expand internationally in the next three years. Those findings are led by the industrials, oil and gas sectors, followed by wholesale trade, technology and media.
To explore these issues in greater detail, PRovoke Media partnered with Edelman and the Asia-Pacific Association of Communication Directors (APACD), inviting a select group of in-house communications leaders to discuss how Asia’s homegrown champions are navigating communications challenges and opportunities in terms of global expansion.
The conversation began with exclusive insights from Edelman’s Trust Barometer research, focusing specifically on trust in Asian brands, the pivotal factor upon which any corporate expansion strategy can falter. And the findings were suitably revealing, starting with relatively consistent distrust of brands headquartered in South Korea (+6 over the past decade), India (+2) and China (-5).
Those findings are exacerbated when a three-year window is applied, reflecting even more significant declines in trust in brand China, India, South Korea and even Japan. Indeed, high trust in Asian champions at home does not guarantee trust abroad. Chinese and Indian companies, for example, are trusted by 90% and 89% of respondents in their respective domestic markets, compared to 32% and 34% externally — reflecting “a massive trust deficit”.
Edelman’s research also helps to uncover the specific drivers that can help Asian brands win over sceptical foreign audiences. Accountability comes out on top, ahead of transparency about climate impact, supply chain and employee diversity. Working with government, according to the research, is a crucial component of this approach, while brands also benefit by trying to bring people together, and by ensuring their CEOs take a visible public stand on employees, climate and discrimination.
CEOs are also expected to hold divisive forces accountable, even in Asia-Pacific, where business leaders rarely stick their heads too far above the parapet. That kind of societal engagement, particularly in terms of contentious issues such as misinformation and social policy, puts business at risk of being politicised. Trustworthy information can insulate a company from this risk, particularly among the 47% who say that business can address societal issues without being seen as politicised.
Those findings set the backdrop for the ensuing conversation among communications leaders from a diverse range of Asian corporates. The transcript of this compelling discussion has been edited for length and clarity.
Adam Najberg, head of communications, IEG Global, Tencent
Allison Lim, VP, corporate and public affairs, Alliance To End Plastic Waste
Dalilah Ibrahim, head of corporate communication, Johor Plantations Berhad
Johahn Bhurrut, global head of public relations, Olam Agri
Lena Goh, MD, public affairs, Temasek
Linda Lee, senior director, corporate comms & society, Shiseido
Ramya Chandrasekaran, chief communications officer, QI Group
Su Min Sng, head of communications, Grab
Warren Fernandez, Asia-Pacific CEO, Edelman
Arun Sudhaman, editor-in-chief, PRovoke Media (moderator)
Country brands’ fluctuating fortunes
“You’re stuck in the middle and the best thing to do is say nothing”
Perhaps the most fascinating finding from Edelman’s research concerns the fluctuating fortunes of Asia’s country brands. At a time when nationalist sentiments are running high, the ‘country of origin’ factor can have a disproportionate impact on communications and positioning strategies, as our participants discussed.
Adam Najberg (AN): Being a Chinese brand, it puts you largely into self-defense mode. When I came over to Tencent, I had been at Alibaba for five years before that and geopolitics really wasn’t a huge factor at that point. It was mostly concerns about data privacy and those you fend off because your servers are in a different continent. Here I would say, everything happened with such great speed, the talk of decoupling. So whereas Alibaba got more and more open, when I came to Tencent it started that way as well.
I think now you’re just generally forced into a defensive position where there’s not a lot of upside when a newspaper calls or a magazine calls or a TV station calls and wants to get your comment about something that was said or happened to your brand regarding trust of Chinese data, privacy or something like that. And it’s tough to be inside the tent on things like that because everything in you screams, “Let’s get our story out there,” but you also are serving another master because anything you say about politics gets reflected back towards Beijing whether you like it or not and it’s just the way it is. So you’re stuck in the middle and the best thing to do is say nothing.
Ramya Chandrasekaran (RC): I’ve actually experienced something very interesting, because this past year I’ve been traveling a lot to West Africa. My company has been expanding in that region. One of the things I realized is China, I think, owns half of West Africa at this point in time, given the number of investments that are going into that region. When I tell them that I’m coming here from Singapore, it’s interesting that — just like many people in Asia tend to club Africa into one country, but it’s 52 different countries — they tend to club Asia into China. And when I try to explain I live in Singapore, but a big chunk of my operations are in Malaysia, all they’re thinking and seeing is China.
And there’s a certain scepticism around China, at least in that part of the world, in West Africa. I realized I have to work that much harder on the education aspect of the differences within the APAC region. Why not everybody is China in this part of the world and how the economies are very, very different, cultures are different. So there’s a big education process that I have to go through in order to even begin a conversation. That’s the common theme.
Dalilah Ibrahim (DI): In my industry it would be more of a global issue or perhaps the West looking at Asia. The experience of the industry in the past few years would be the customs border restrictions of products going into the US. Before they were targeting countries, but the trend has changed now that they are actually targeting companies. That does impact the brand of palm oil producers of the world. Not just in Asia, not just Malaysia, Indonesia. It also affects those producing in Brazil, in Argentina. So this is actually a global issue for the palm oil industry and for them to take it to the company level, that’s just a new ball game that we’ve seen a few companies being targeted for the past few years.
Johahn Bhurrut (JB): For me, the country, brand definitely matters. Being headquartered in Singapore, I think it definitely has helped us in our journey. But I think we grew to a point where the reputation of the company comes first. When you go global, then people look at the company and not the country. So, for Olam Agri for instance, we are not new to criticism and controversies — you have to step up and talk about what we do around the world. From a communications perspective, we look at the company, we look at our presence globally, and then we tell our story. So country brand matters less in that perspective and the company itself and the reputation matters more.
Lena Goh (LG): Definitely [the country brand impact is] in a good way for us because Temasek is very closely associated with the Singapore brand. So intertwined in terms of our whole history and heritage and that has served us well. And the Singapore brand is pretty well trusted in terms of expectations and delivery. When we say we do, we deliver. And that has helped to stand us in good stead as a trusted investor internationally. I think the challenges come about mainly because over the recent years, as we all know, the complex geopolitical environment.
I guess the tricky bit for us, especially with the US China bit — when you invest in China, you’re asked about your relationships in US, you invest in US, you’re asked about China. And we always have to reiterate that we invest based on commercial principles. It’s really the autonomy, the commercial principles that we have to often emphasize that we’re not part of the government. That’s why, to us, two key principles — security and resilience — become really important as we think about the macro lens when we invest.
Warren Fernandez (WF): I think it’s multidimensional and quite complex, because the geopolitics is getting more and more complicated, but it doesn’t translate into one direction. If you are a brand who’s trying to go into China, it’s getting more complicated. You start looking for opportunities and the right to be there. It’s not one dimensional, it’s multi-layered, even for brands like Singapore. Singapore is a generally positive brand in Asia and internationally, but within certain markets it’s a bit more challenging, closer to home. So you have to navigate the geopolitics locally as well.
I would say there are challenges, but also opportunities arising. I see many Korean brands, for example, starting to see opportunities in the rest of Asia, but also in the US because of the Inflation Reduction Act. We can’t go to China because of the geopolitics but there are these other opportunities that we found there. Even in the turbulence there are many opportunities.
Allison Lim (AL): So we’re industry funded. That means a whole other layer because we are a charity. And what we do is essentially give out grants and no cost loans. So when we move into any country, typically we’re welcomed with open arms because we’re moving into underserved areas, we’re building infrastructure essentially. The issue for us is more high level and I have to agree with Dalilah, for the area that I work in, which is in plastics and then you’ve also got waste management infrastructure. The issues are pretty much generic across the world. There’s always competition. The issue actually arises from who our funders are and that’s a very corporate overlay of the issues.
Linda Lee (LL): I think we benefited over the last 50 years as Japanese brands connected for consumers, connected with travelers in my case and also retailers who trust the brand. But on the other side, it comes with high expectations. And then from a communication standpoint, I think there is always value in transparency. And transparency is a very tough one for a Japanese company because they do not want to look very political. There’s also a bit of a cultural context — generally, Japanese companies are quite deferential to the government. If the government says nothing, the companies say nothing.
As a company, I think there is a certain intention to also delineate some of these issues because again, we’re running a business for commercial reasons, connecting with different consumers, but at the same time we don’t want to get involved in those complex issues. So, the trust piece has both sides of that double whammy.
The elephant in the room
“Businesses just have to accept that it is going to get complicated”
It was telling that many of our in-house executives brought up the current geopolitical challenges that continue to impact business operations. The China-US trade war is just one component of this mix, often accompanied by a potent strain of misinformation and disinformation, which can have corresponding effects on products and brands.
But, even within Asia itself, politicisation cannot be avoided — as Edelman’s research underlines. For communications leaders, this adds up to a unique set of challenges as they attempt to steer their brands through some unforgiving, perhaps even unfair, waters.
AN: I’ve been in three Chinese companies now over the last decade, and I’ve never heard a Chinese executive or leader say, “Gee, I would like more interaction with any government.” We do business, we do brands. What do you actually have to do as the brand to prove that all you’re doing is business? You move your servers across the world, you comply with the laws of every country, and yet you’re still doubted.
I’m American, I’m proud to be an American. I’m just making the point that, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” And I feel as if when you’re building a brand, it almost becomes an excuse for subterfuge, nationalism, throwing stones to protect your homegrown rivals. When you start to lag behind in certain areas, I think nationalism almost becomes an excuse to slow down the giants who are starting to encroach in your areas, because they have the money and they have the know-how, they have the speed. I would pit any Chinese company of any size against any Western company. If you removed all geopolitics for both sides, I think they would be hyper, hyper competitive.
Arun Sudhaman (AS): So how do you tackle that level of scrutiny, even if it’s often unfair, often misguided? It’s an issue that has to be dealt with, I imagine.
AL: From a government relations perspective, it’s really being able to demonstrate that you bring value. You’re not going to win the entire war, because every war is 80:20. 20% of the population you will never be able to turn. If you’re in politics, it’s a basic campaign idea that you will never be able to win all 100% of the population.
But pick your battles, choose who your stakeholders are. That’s what we do. When you move into different countries, they do have a hierarchy of priorities. How do you bump your priority to top? How do you manage to have that conversation with them? It’s about demonstrating value, and how do you do that? For us it’s probably a little bit easier because we go in and we’re doing something that nobody else wants to do. But how do you engage and continue? The first conversation is always the easiest. It’s the second that you have to make. Once you have that you develop, build that value, they come back to you over and over again. And we don’t go out and try to win all hearts and minds. We win the hearts and minds of the ones that are important to the development and success of the world.
JB: From a commercial perspective, I think we’re almost sucked into the geopolitics of it. You’re outside of the US, you’re outside of China, but you can’t ignore it. I think the legalities of it, from a commercial standpoint, come first. If you want to do business in the US today, there are certain things you can’t do in China. For instance, they have a blacklist of companies you can’t work with if they are seated in the government. And then think of reputation. And it applies everywhere — so see how you can do business, where you can do business, and where you want to do business.
WF: I think we have to accept the world as it is. In fact, the geopolitics that we’re getting to is probably closer to the way the world has been for the longest period of time. I think businesses just have to accept that it is going to get complicated. Sectors that were areas in which you could play you might not be able to play in tomorrow. We were all talking about EVs as a possible area that might be a growth opportunity. And suddenly you get this EU investigation, and that becomes something that maybe becomes a bit more tricky. I think companies will just have to navigate through it.
I take the point you’re making about pick your battles. And when we talk to our colleagues in Japan, we say to them, there’s this huge brand love for Brand Japan, and deep in Japanese culture is the sense of sustainability and wanting to conserve for the future. And that gives tremendous opportunity for Japanese companies to step up on that issue. That’s an issue that resonates with young generations, our Gen Z trust findings show that it’s a hugely resonant issue. You can step out of geopolitics by taking an issue which resonates regardless of where you are, and I think Brand Japan can own that issue a little bit more. It could be a very positive thing for Brand Japan and Japanese companies.
LG: It’s really understanding the local market that you’re playing in. Understanding the local culture, identifying the right stakeholders, and reaching the right strategic partnerships. Because that’s what helps you build that authenticity, that brand trust, that reputation locally. And I think that speaks volumes amidst the geopolitics that we don’t have control of. How do we be agile and be authentic around it? Because we’ve just got to adapt to this volatile complex world.
RC: We’re not a big consumer brand that everybody knows, and each of our brands is relatively small and very niche. So it’s really about having a local partner who’s already well known, and you tap into their reputation, you tap into their credibility. And that’s worked very well for us. You still have to fight the battles — again, misinformation. It’s not just geopolitics always that’s fueling misinformation, but having somebody who is locally trusted as a local business goes a long way in fighting that battle.
Making new friends
“There’s a lot of cultural understanding that goes into tailoring your messages when you’re trying to expand your brand”
Asia’s champion brands are, by definition, already incredibly successful. But success in foreign markets often requires a different mindset, particularly when it comes to building relationships with stakeholders that are unfamiliar with a company’s home market dominance. Stories might matter more than facts, and cultural insights are often harder-won than they might first appear, as our participants explored.
RC: I think it’s important to customize a lot of your communications campaigns for the local market. What works in Singapore is not going to work in the Middle East, or even India for that matter. We have to find a way to connect to the local audience in their language, using cultural nuances that work for them, and also we have to be careful about the brand names that we use for some of our products. There’s a lot of cultural understanding that goes into tailoring your messages when you’re trying to expand your brand. Because one size is not going to fit all. You can have one global message, but how it’s communicated locally is very, very important.
LG: When you talk to an investor or business community, the facts and figures matter most to them. But with the public, the storytelling, the emotive effect of humanizing yourself as a brand, as a trusted, credible player, and how do you demonstrate your CSR commitment to the local communities, that matters. So it’s really a tiering, even within the market itself.
AN: For Chinese companies, they’ve all had the same issue, and it really doesn’t have that much to do with geopolitics. DJI, the drone company that I first worked for, thought that technology was your brand. Chinese companies love to look at what Western and other companies are doing as a model. So the packaging for DJI was like the Apple stuff. They kind of fancy themselves at the Apple end of the market for drones. But what they missed was that Apple Care, apart from making more money than the products themselves, because most of them don’t break within the time period — you actually have to make good on it. So if someone flies a drone into a tree, you need to give them a new drone.
The point is, customers want a great experience, and they associate that with the brand. And if they have a bad customer experience, they don’t like the brand, and a better brand comes, or a cheaper product comes, they leave. Alibaba found it way too hard to figure out how to win hearts and minds in the United States. They thought that the name Alibaba would carry them, but the name had to actually have something behind it. With Tencent, what I’m discovering, we did a brand survey in North America in 2019, and found that the name Tencent was vastly unknown. And where it was known, it wasn’t largely additive in any positive way. So we launched Level Infinite as a brand for the games overseas. And nobody knows what Level Infinite is, so you have to start from kind of zero. What you realize is that the brand-building exercise there is not creating the brand and saying, “Hey, that’s Level Infinite.” It’s letting people see all these cool games.
So it’s the content and the experience that win them over as people who support your brand. And it’s a very hard slog because it costs a lot of money and a lot of time to develop a brand without a lot of ROI. Brands are not one thing. It’s values. It’s people behind it. It’s your approach to business. And it certainly is not to make profit right away.
DI: I find that the pressure given to the palm oil companies is basically through their customers. Because I’m not actually customer facing, we’re more B2B. But the pressure is put on our customers that provide the ingredients for, let’s say, Shiseido or Ferrero Rocher.
And I find that from my previous company where, the clients that had actually moved to Johor Plantations were because of issues that have been raised against the other companies. Customers find a company that can serve the requirements that they need, for example sustainable, traceable palm oil. So those are the things that they’re looking for. In a way, it sets a new standard across the global sphere, that this is what customers want for sustainable palm oil, for example. So these are pressures put in communication. I agree with you that we have to be agile, adaptable because I think the issues are just non-stop. We cannot fight this battle alone. We need stakeholders who can actually speak up for the industry, and for them to know that the communication part needs to educate, to explain the issues to the spokesperson so that they can be the advocate.
JB: That resonates a lot with me. It’s almost two separate tracks. On one track we have the external perspective and perception of what your industry is doing. And palm oil has faced it over many years, as cocoa has, as many supply chains. It’s almost a defensive strategy in that sense, where you try to protect some supply chains, and try to make sure that you are covered in every possible way. Because it may come to different supply chains. And then from a company perspective, you need to brand yourself and do much more good, and figure out how you can stand out as an industry, and as a company. For us, it’s a challenge treading that line, because sometimes you have to go defensive mode and not focus enough on the reputation of the company.
The crucial importance of a visible CEO
“A lot of the CEOs I work with and senior executives, are more functional”
The Trust findings make clear that a visible CEO plays an incredibly important role when it comes to helping companies win trust beyond their home markets. But that kind of prominence, particularly on societal issues, does not always come naturally to business leaders in this region — particularly when a low profile is often seen as a virtue by their domestic customer base.
WF: I think it’s a missed opportunity if there is this aversion to stepping up and communicating and standing for something. The example I first cite in this country, DBS CEO Piyush Gupta is a well known personality — has no aversion to stepping up and telling you what he thinks on issues that are relevant to this organization. And look at the brand he’s built, the brand equity that he’s built for his organization. When we get out there and build this organizational reputation, and then lend that credibility to this brand. I think that’s something that many more CEOs in our part of the world could be doing.
AL: It’s cultural and it’s risk aversion. If you go to any personality test, then you will actually see the diversion between Western employees and an Asian one. Where you see that might be a little different is India, where you really fight for your voice and therefore the companies and the CEOs are very different.
LG: It’s a lot more direct in a Western company, but also the governance is a lot more transparent in a sense. Whereas in the Asian world, the interpersonal relationships are subtle, in terms of body language — things are never directly said but you mean something. And so you kind of need to decipher that in your own different cultural setting.
AN: I’ve had a lot of experience with Taiwanese companies and most of them are like, family run, B2B. Even semiconductor companies are reticent to speak publicly because they kind of view themselves as a manufacturer of things. “We make stuff, we sell it for money, that’s it. What is there to talk about?” But there is a lot to talk about, and is that going to change now that we have a generational handover coming? Because we see some of the trust issues here and the only thing that’s going to win a modern generation over is communicating with them in the channels and the language which they’re used to receiving messages.
JB: I think it’s largely cultural. I think a lot of the CEOs I work with, and senior executives, are more functional. Their mindset is “if I’m making money Johahn, why do I have to go out there and talk about what we are doing?” So they don’t see it. I worked with many Western companies before, especially American companies, and they are more direct. To them, it’s emotions, connecting with the consumers, and we want to go out there and talk about what we do. But with Asian companies it’s a little bit different, very functional.
AL: You know what the great equalizer is? Social media. Because we do the videos in their own style, you can lob as many softball questions as you want at them, and it builds confidence. And that’s how we’ve done it with a few CEOs. Put them through their social media, and they get to see what they’re doing. We have a specialist writer that works directly with them, builds their confidence. Then they do the roadshows and then the tours, and then you put them in front of the media. That’s how you get the voice, and that’s how you build a brand. Otherwise, it’s basically impossible.
RC: I think also it depends on the education system you come from, the type of global exposure you have with other markets. That helps a lot, but if you don’t have that, I think that gets in the way as well.
JB: I think language is an issue as well, because a lot of the Asian executives, they look up to American executives when they’re out there speaking. But if you put an Asian executive in his or her home market, it’s a different ball game. I mean, they’re very confident, they know, they understand the people. They understand the culture and you can see a lot more confidence. So I think language is a challenge as well.
WF: I think business opportunities are lost when we don’t communicate. You are losing an opportunity because this is how people are relating to the brands. You have to assume that at some point, crisis will strike. It’s not always going to be rosy. At some point, you’re going to have a big crisis and if you haven’t built up that trust over time and stored up a good bit, it’s too late when crisis strikes. And then the CMO or CEO has to step up and do the work. I would advise them to walk across those lines in the good times. Do it in the safe space in your own building, your own folks. Practice, get good at it, get comfortable because the time is going to come when you’re going to have to step up.
JB: I totally agree with you. We are fortunate to have a CEO who’s actually out there. And he doesn’t mind saying what he thinks. The CEO defines what the company culture will be and I see people really following what he’s saying. It’s not always rosy, and sometimes you get bad times. And then you have to rely on trust you’ve built along the way with all the different stakeholders, your investors, your shareholders, to be able to recover.
LL: There’s a lot of talk around the CEO stepping up, but I think that there’s almost a dissonance if you don’t communicate internally first before you go and stand up. I think maybe that is the point that Asian CEOs care about more. They care more about their people. So they want to make sure that the communications is done well, before they go out there.
Employees matter too
“If we don’t convince our employees, nothing else works.”
The importance of a more activist CEO clearly struck a chord with our participants, but many also hastened to broaden the lens — noting that employee advocates are another crucial element of the mix that is often overlooked. It may be trite to observe that the line between internal and external comms no longer exists, but in overseas markets, a brand’s employees can make a pivotal difference in terms of earning goodwill and shaping perceptions, particularly if they can unite around a shared purpose.
LG: We emphasize a lot on internal communication. To us it leads to a lot of trust in the staff. They become your brand ambassadors and so then they feel they’re trusted. They know the strategic direction of the firm. It helps a lot with the humanizing points. You see what the CEO can do, but I think that at the peer-to-peer relational level, that really helps us as well.
LL: If we don’t convince our employees, nothing else works.
DI: They will be the same people who will actually defend your company when they are in attack on the social media.
RC: If you’re trying to expand to a global market and into a different market, it helps to have a local team that understands local markets, local market expectations, cultures, all that stuff. But it’s not going to help if HQ doesn’t make an effort to also understand what’s happening in that particular market. So, one of the things that I know that we do is we actually tend to hire a lot of people in our Asian HQs. We have a whole lot of expats in Asia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia. In fact, I would say there’s a pretty good balance of expats and locals, and that cultural mixing really helps with fostering a more understanding environment, exchanging of ideas, a better understanding of how things work at any given point in time. And it’s great for conversations. It doesn’t work if it’s just one way.
LG: What I think aligns us all, connects us across the different markets is kind of a shared purpose, and that’s something we strongly believe in. For example, during the Covid period, as an investor, our job is to bring in financial returns — our investors became almost like procurement officers where they were helping their local communities to distribute, to procure masks, sanitizers etc. It was really meaningful and nobody felt that it’s taking them away from their day jobs, but that shared purpose really united us and helped us build that local trust as well.
AN: It’s so strange when you work in a company that has 112,000 Chinese employees. First of all, in the game sector, women — that’s the diversity you need. But then white people at the company, or actually anyone who’s not Chinese is a diversity candidate, whether or not they speak Chinese. It just changed my whole perspective on diversity because I never thought of myself as a minority at anything, but you kind of are.
In terms of what you were talking about, shared purpose, Covid was a horrible thing, but I saw at Alibaba it really united everyone. Our executives in New York were working really closely with their teams and the teams in China, and it just kind of erased all those borders and differences more than any forced DEI program could do.
JB: It’s the willingness to learn as well. Don’t think you have all the answers. Because you succeeded in Asia, doesn’t mean you will succeed in Africa. It’s going out there and listening to the people, speaking to the right stakeholders, understanding where the government is coming from, where the stakeholders are coming from, and then to draw out a strategy for that particular market.
One thing that will help
“You’ve got to do stuff rather than just say it, so that people see you mean it when you say it”
The conversation concluded with each participant providing one suggestion that, from a communications perspective, would help Asian companies in their quest for international success.
RC: I think authenticity becomes the most important thing. Communicating your values and communicating your messaging in a transparent and authentic manner will go a long way.
LG: The shared purpose that unites you across every single market, whether it’s your employees or stakeholders or the media or the public.
LL: Less fear of failing. I mean, I know we have a job because of that, but I think if especially CEOs speak up about what they care about, if they also don’t fear failing in front of the public eye, that would help everyone succeed.
JB: I would call it an entrepreneurial mindset. So when you grow into a new market, have that mindset when you go there, have that willingness to learn, listen to different stakeholders and always understand that you don’t know everything.
SMS: We need to talk more about the Southeast Asian market and the Asian market to other people because that helps to build credibility for companies.
AL: Quite simply, don’t let the comms or the marketing run ahead of the actual business. From a senior executive level there’s always this whole thing about they want to talk up the one thing. You need to be able to balance that. That goes back to credibility, and it’s the same whether it’s the media or it’s government.
DI: Social media trends can be applied locally. It’s good to know the trending types of issues in that market. Certainly it already helps our brands locally. So I think that would be something that communicators should look into, social media marketing, but tailored to the specific market that we want to go into.
WF: Action earns trust, and trust drives growth. You’ve got to do stuff rather than just say it, so that people see you mean it when you say it. By being seen to do it you actually build up that trust.