Communications Is Here To Stay, In Good & Bad Times

My friend Gabey recently wrote a helpful article in PR Week featuring the kind of validation every communications professional seeks after: No matter the economic outlook, there will always be a place for the communications function in an organisation.

This was according to Wendy Heng, associate director for sales & marketing at Robert Walters Singapore, a specialist recruitment firm. She said, “In good times or bad, you’re still going to need a communications practitioner in-house,” adding, “It is a necessary and stable function in most companies and I’ve never seen a huge rise or fall in the number of positions.”

She observed that comms staff tend to escape restructuring or cost-cutting measures because they are viewed as a necessity. She added that if a company does undergo cost-cutting measures, communications roles are typically shielded, as it is one of those functions recognised as a necessity rather than a luxury.

“There is always going to be need for it because how you could not have someone look after external outreach or crisis communications?” she said.

However, while the comms sector is quite stable, it is also a double-edged sword as in-house teams are not big to begin with. “They’re always stretched too thin with a limit to how much external agencies can do. So while its stable, it is also not seen as revenue-generating function so it’s hard to justify additions to the head count – In contrast, the sales function is easier to justify.”

In the same article, Robert Walters’ also shared the findings from their latest annual Global Salary Survey last week. Data published suggested that salaries are expected to remain relatively flat in 2016, though candidates with in-demand skills can anticipate an average salary increment of 10 to 20 percent when switching jobs.

The following are some excerpted salaries from around Asia, from the Robert Walters Global Salary Survey. Salaries are listed in USD per annum, converted from local currencies.

Position Industry sector Salary range (USD)
2015 2016
Sydney, Australia
Communications Manager Banking & Financial Services 77,000 – 91,000 84,000 – 98,000
Senior Brand Manager Sales, Marketing & Communications, Consumer goods 87,000 – 98,000 87,000 – 105,000
Brand Manager Sales, Marketing & Communications, Consumer Goods 66,000 – 84,000 66,000 – 91,000
Shanghai, China
PR manager Sales & Marketing, Cosmetics 30,000 – 76,000 45,000 – 76,000
PR manager Sales & Marketing, Professional Services 45,000 – 84,000 45,000 – 90,000
PR manager Sales & Marketing, Retail & Luxury – National/Regional 45,000 – 90,000 45,000 – 76,000
PR & Events Manager Sales & Marketing, Retail & Luxury – National/Regional 60,000 – 90,000 53,000 – 68,000
Hong Kong, Greater China
Head of Corporate Communications Sales & Marketing, Financial Services 193,000 – 257,000 193,000 – 282,000
Head of Internal Communications Sales & Marketing, Financial Services 167,000 – 205,000 167,000 – 218,000
Corporate Communications Manager Sales & Marketing, Financial Services 77,000 – 116,000 77,000 – 128,000
PR Manager Sales & Marketing, Retail 58,000 – 83,000 64,000 – 90,000
Jakarta, Indonesia
Marketing Communications Manager Sales & Marketing, Marketing 28,000 – 33,000+ 28,000 – 42,000+
PR Manager Sales & Marketing, Marketing 23,000 – 33,000+ 23,000 – 36,000+
Tokyo, Japan
Communications Manager / Director Sales & Marketing, Retail & Hospitality 59,000 – 110,000 59,000 – 110,000
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Communications Director Sales & Marketing, General Marketing (consumer) 42,000 – 62,000 42,000 – 65,000
Communications Manager Sales & Marketing, General Marketing (consumer) 25,000 – 37,000 25,000 – 37,000
Communications Director Sales & Marketing, General Marketing (IT&T / Industrial) 42,000 – 62,000 42,000 – 62,000
Communications Manager Sales & Marketing, General Marketing (IT&T / Industrial) 20,000 – 28,000 20,000 – 34,000
Singapore
Corporate Affairs Director Consumer & Technical Healthcare, PR & Communications 98,000 – 125,000+ 98,000 – 140,000+
Public Relations Director Consumer & Technical Healthcare, PR & Communications 84,000 – 125,000+ 84,000 – 125,000+
Corporate Communications Manager Consumer & Technical Healthcare, PR & Communications 56,000 – 84,000+ 56,000 – 84,000+
Public Relations Manager Consumer & Technical Healthcare, PR & Communications 49,000 – 84,000 49,000 – 84,000
Corporate Communications Director Sales & Marketing, B2B & Industrial 105,000 – 175,000 105,000 – 175,000
Public Relations Director Sales & Marketing, B2B & Industrial 84,000 – 140,000+ 84,000 – 140,000+
Corporate Communications Manager Sales & Marketing, B2B & Industrial 56,000 – 105,000 56,000 – 105,000
Public Relations Manager Sales & Marketing, B2B & Industrial 56,000 – 84,000 56,000 – 84,000
Bangkok, Thailand
Public Relations Director Sales & Marketing, Consumer & B2B 42,000 – 55,000 44,000 – 61,000
PR Manager Sales & Marketing, Consumer & B2B 24,000 – 42,000 27,000 – 44,000
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Corporate Affairs Director Sales & Marketing, Marketing 90,000 – 105,000 84,000 – 105,000

Full article here.

10 overused buzzwords Asia-Pacific marketing & communications professionals are using on LinkedIn in 2016

Marketoonist - NoBuzzwords

If you’re an Asia Pacific-based marketing or communications professional, LinkedIn has revealed that you’re probably using these words in your profile:

  1. Creative
  2. Passionate
  3. Strategic
  4. Successful
  5. Motivated
  6. Driven
  7. Leadership
  8. Innovative
  9. Track record
  10. Dynamic

The list for 2016 was derived from LinkedIn’s analysis of the profile summaries of marketers in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore.

Cue the sound of Shift+F7 being tapped across the region and a surge of incoming traffic to Thesaurus.com all across the region.

LinkedIn’s Regional Head of Communications Roger Pua advised marketers to ditch the buzzwords and focus on more substantial ways to brand and market themselves, such as “substantiating their work and achievements with concrete examples such as awards, presentations, research papers, etc. Remember too, that a picture says a thousand words, so let’s put an end to tired and overused buzzwords.”

Kudos to LinkedIn, by the way, for getting my long-time favorite Marketoonist Tom Fishburne to come up with a few cartoons to drive home this fact.

Now, if you’re looking for me, I’ll be reviewing my LinkedIn profile and hitting up Shift+F7.

H/T: Marketing+Advertising, Mumbrella Asia

Speaking at IACT on The Future Of Marketing & Communications

Speaking at IACT 20151202
The great bunch of students I had the pleasure of hanging out with. 2 Dec 2015.

I was invited to give this presentation to a student class at IACT College, which was founded by the advertising industry to become Malaysia’s premier college specialising in creative communication.

I enjoyed my time with the students as well as the insightful questions they asked.

I spoke on “The Future of Marketing & Communications”, exploring the disruptions impacting marketing and communications today as well as what capabilities practitioners need to develop for the future. In a world where the scarcest resources are attention and engagement, marketers and communicators need to:

  1. Have a conversation – Marketing and communications today is essentially a dialogue with the marketplace. We need to design organisations and capabilities that set us on a virtuous circle where we sense/listen, integrate, and communicate again and again to remain relevant and engaged with our audiences.
  2. Embrace and co-create with your community – From the conversations we have with the marketplace, we are able to take in input and perspectives that result in truly engaging initiatives that already have buy-in from our audiences and customers.
  3. Tell authentic stories – In a world saturated with banal noise, authentic storytelling helps cut through the clutter; engaging both the heart and the mind.
  4. Integrate across media – Marketing and communication channels can no longer operate in silos. The sum of parts are often stronger than the individual parts.
  5. Build your own media platforms – As the media and channel landscape becomes even more fragmented, a brand’s own media platforms often become an authoritative source of information.

My slides are available here:

I also shared some case study/examples from both Microsoft and Shell. The videos I refer to in my slides are as follows:

Shell – Destination Home

  • Link to video on Youku
  • More context to this campaign available here and here

Shell #MakeTheFuture – Morro de Mineira Project

Microsoft – Decode Jay-z with Bing

Speaking at Comms Malaysia 2015 on The Future of Communications

CommsMalaysia_2015-40Photo credit: Advertising + Marketing

I was very honored to be invited to join a great panel of speakers at the recent Comms Malaysia 2015 event, organized by Advertising + Marketing, a publication of Lighthouse Independent Media.

Comms Malaysia Speakers

I spoke on the topic, “Looking to what’s next: The Future Of Communications.” In my presentation, I made the case that the marketing and communications landscape is being completely disrupted by many forces, including: the globalized & hyper-connected world we live in today; Big Data and the Internet of Everything; Social media; an ever-changing and ever-fragmenting media landscape; ubiquitous connectivity, and changing interfaces.

Drawing on case studies and examples from both Microsoft and Shell, I then outlined four capabilies marketers and communicators could build on to prepare themselves for the future of communications:

  1. Embracing & co-creating with your community
  2. Telling authentic stories
  3. Integrating across media
  4. Building on our owned media platforms

Here are the slides from my presentation. I hope you enjoy them and look forward to engaging with you on it.

There were two videos embedded in my presentation, which can be viewed via YouTube here:

  • #makethefuture Morro da Mineira Project:

  • Microsoft Bing – Decode Jay-Z Case Study:

Winning Gold At The Microsoft Worldwide Communications Summit 2014!

Thrilling news – I recently got back from Seattle, Washington from the company’s Worldwide Communications Summit 2014 with a Gold Newshound Award – my second one in a row! I am truly touched and flattered by this recognition, which builds on the momentum of having won a Gold Newshound Award the previous year as well as being a multiple-award winner at last year’s Malaysia PR Awards.

Me&MyNewsHoundJust me and my hound dog!

Every year, the global community of Communications professionals at Microsoft gather from around the world for our annual Worldwide Communications Summit. This year’s summit was held in Seattle, Washington. This year, we were also joined by the highly-talented team of consumer/devices Communications experts from Nokia (now known as Microsoft Devices), which provided a great opportunity for us to welcome them to the Microsoft family.

At the Summit, we also take the opportunity to showcase and celebrate best-practices, via our annual Microsoft Newshound Awards (held at the very lovely Chiluly Garden and Glass in Seattle), which recognize excellence in Communications from our global community of passionate and committed PR & Communications professionals. Each Newshound Award category recognizes three winners: Gold, Silver and Bronze.

LeighNewsHoundWin2014_editedWith Microsoft’s top Communications Leadership (L-R): Frank Shaw, Corporate Vice President of Corporate Communications, Microsoft Corp.; Yunsun Wee, Director, Worldwide Field Communications, Microsoft Corp.; and Doug Dawson, Vice President of Media Relations for Nokia (now Microsoft Devices).  

My award recognized a year-long effort throughout the fiscal year where we competed aggressively in the education sector. I partnered with my leadership team, along with our education, legal and area headquarters communication teams, in a year-long campaign that communicated our local value-proposition in Education. The campaign showcased Microsoft’s long history of contribution to education in Malaysia, as well as independent research, 3rd-party op-ed pieces, executive media engagements.

Here’s what was said about the work that I did:

This is a best practice of good programmatic execution with business impact. The team did an excellent job with this year-long integrated PR campaign that includes activities that supports and aligns to the National Plan.  Congratulations on delivering a strategic, matrixed campaign that began with the end in mind – showcasing Microsoft as a trusted advisor and partner to Government, and a thought leader for educators and students.

Me And The APAC TeamWith friends and colleagues from across Asia!

Needless to say I couldn’t have done this alone. I’d like to specifically call out and thank:

  • My team from Priority Communications: Elaine, Ashley, Kenny, Calvin, Atiqah and Sylvia for all their hardwork and partnership throughout the year.
  • My media friends: There are *SO MANY* of you have been very kind and supportive, always being open to our story pitches and engaging with me regularly. I’m blessed to count many of you as friends today.
  • My colleagues in Microsoft Malaysia: Much of what has been achieved is a result of intense partnership and collaboration – building upon each other’s initiatives and achievements towards a larger goal of success in this area!
  • My colleagues in the Microsoft Asia Communications team: Especially Andy, Verdayne, Jesse and Darryn. Your support and partnership throughout the year has also been invaluable, leveraging upon the greater network of expertise and investment for us to drive truly impactful initiatives to competitively position us in the education space.
  • My family: Without their support, I would not be free to do great things at work.

A huge congratulations also to the rest of the Gold, Silver and Bronze Newshound winners from Asia! In fact, the Asia Pacific region won the most Gold Newshound awards of any worldwide area (tied with our Central & Eastern Europe area. This is a tremendously creative, professional, committed team – and I’m proud to be a part of it. Go team Asia!

DSC_0514_editedThe Asia Communications Team, with our four Gold Newshound Winners – two from the area headquarters, another one from Australia… and me.