Why Malaysia is proving to be a hotbed for PR
As of late, Malaysia has proven to be fertile ground for PR agencies. Just this year, we have seen The Hoffman Agency made its foray into the country, while DNA Creative Communications set up shop with industry veterans Ashvin Anamalai and Dan Iskandar.
In an earlier conversation with A+M, Hoffman Agency’s managing director, Maureen Tseng said that the fastest-growing rate of Malaysian economy in over 20 years, at 8.7%, and the technology sector following suit at nearly 10% provides agencies with greater confidence to set up in the country. She also added that Malaysia has been attracting the lion’s share of FDI in the Southeast Asian region, which when couple with a skilled workforce that is able to work competently in an international setting, makes Malaysia a tempting avenue for investment.
This seems to be a unanimous opinion.
Lina Marican, regional managing director at Mutant Communications seconded the notion of Malaysia’s strong economic growth, coupled with renewed confidence in political leadership, and government investment in the technology sector being key factors driving demand for PR firms in Malaysia. “With this rise in demand for strategic consult, it makes sense for savvy agencies to set-up shop,” she added. Mutant Communications also made its entry into Malaysia in 2019, after establishing a 11 year presence first in Singapore.
Shifting attitudes towards PR firms
Other than Malaysia’s favourable economic climate, professionals also recognise a shift in attitude towards the role of PR.
Over the past few years, the role of PR has matured in the minds of marketeers.
Notwithstanding the pandemic era, the evolution of PR and its role in the marketing ecosystem has seen an upward trajectory.
“When utilised to its full effect, it can become a potent weapon for companies to share their stories,” said Peter De Kretser, founder of Go Comms, a local boutique agency which has long-established its prominence in Malaysia. His confidence in PR comes from his philosophy that good storytelling is timeless and provides a credible, cost effective and humanised approach towards communications in today’s world.
For Ashvin Anamalai, who recently set up his own boutique PR agency, DNA Creative Communications in Malaysia, it is apparent that he recognises the elevated importance of PR in the country. Anamalai was previously the chief strategist at BeStrategicand helped establish the company as a key player within the Malaysia communications scene before branching out on his own.
Much like De Kretser, Anamalai believes that “as businesses and organisations increasingly recognise the importance of effective communication and reputation management, the demand for PR services is likely to grow.”
Additionally, the rise of digital and social media has made it easier for companies to reach audiences in Malaysia and around the world, further highlighting the importance of PR in today’s business landscape. With this in mind, Anamalai and his partner, Dan Iskandar started their own agency. “I wanted to have more control over the types of clients and projects I worked on, to build something from the ground up and have a direct impact on the success of my clients and my business.”
Grooming of talent
Vicky Wong, Malaysia GM of The Hoffman Agency added that while there is plenty of good talent in Malaysia, bench strength is lacking at the mid-level given seasoned executives are moving too fast, too soon. As such more needs to be done to foster talent within the scene at the mid level – and companies setting up in Malaysia have the ability to help strengthen the talent pool. “Building solid experience requires time and patience. For those of us who have been in the industry long enough, we see people jumping ship within a year or two,” she said.
This means those being hired as managers often lack experience, and fail to meet the expectations of the role and they leave.
Meanwhile, Precious Communications which established its Malaysia arm in early 2020 has also been seeing the fruits of its labour, and like many agencies, has been attracted by the talent pool the country presents. Lars Voedisch, managing director at Precious Communications, shared that the lower cost of doing business in Malaysia, along with the availability of competitive fees and personalised services make it attractive to international brands and local MNCs.
“With the rise of digital PR and social media, and an expected GDP growth of 4.5% in in the next years, there is a higher demand for communication services”
“As PRecious is focused on the Greater Southeast Asia region, Malaysia is a naturally market for us to be active in. We are very excited about the opportunities for regional clients to expand into Malaysia,” he added.
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