The state of PR around the globe

April 3, 2020
  |  by 
Oliver Budgen

The With Global Alliance is an international network of agencies specializing in tech PR and marketing. The Coronavirus pandemic is affecting agencies around the world in a variety of ways. Each country and region is at different points in the lifecycle of the virus and its economic impact.

Founding members of the Alliance- Oliver Budgen, founder of Bud Communications, shares his views on how COVID-19 is currently affecting their business, their clients and the markets they serve. These insights can give us a window into our future by understanding the evolution of this disease as it travels around the world.

How is the business climate in your region right now?

Asia Pacific has had a mixed rate of exposure to Coronavirus. Some markets, such as Singapore, are in a state of improvement with others, such as Australia, rapidly implementing lockdown regulations to contain the spread further. Asia Pacific is an incredibly complex and interconnected region and so regardless of some markets improving over others, there is an overall impact that will likely be felt for many months to come.

Where do you feel your country/region is in the Coronavirus cycle? Early/Mid/Late Stage? How Long do you think it will last?

Given the rapid spread, it’s impossible to accurately forecast the duration of COVID-19 however, at this time it does feel that Singapore is in remission for now. Singapore was an early victim of the Coronavirus but was able to manage the spread quite well due to a successful public information campaign, robust quarantine measures for exposed groups, and the fact that it’s a small island state, with one airport, one ferry terminal and one bridge connecting it to continental Asia. Many other markets in Southeast Asia are still in the midst of the spread and most have implemented border lockdowns which will likely impact business growth.

How have your clients reacted to this crisis? Have they paused activity/reduced budgets/invested in online activities etc.?

It’s a real mix. We’ve some clients whose businesses have been devastated by the impact of COVID-19. For them, it’s about managing overheads and innovating, fast, creating new products or services that cater to the new business environment. This could mean taking offline initiatives online, changing strategies entirely, or moving away from shrinking sectors like travel and into growing ones like entertainment or fast-moving consumer goods. We’ve also had some clients in the gaming and e-sports sector for instance who are experiencing tremendous growth as consumers spend more time indoors on video games and brands adjust their budgets accordingly. In both cases our strategy is to move fast and tactically to help clients seize upon the opportunity.

What is your agency doing right now internally (with team members) and externally (with clients/prospects) to ensure business continuity?

Internally we’ve implemented a work from home policy and helped the team to adopt a remote working routine using tools and structure to ensure we don’t feel siloed. We have a company check-in at the start and end of each day and use tools like Slack, Zoom and Trello to maintain everyone’s visibility on progress. For us the emphasis with remote working has to be on over-communicating and that’s been quite effective to keep energy and output high. With our clients, its crucial we have empathy to understand the challenging situation many of our clients are in and helping them navigate the pandemic. We’ve moved beyond rigid scopes of work to ensure we’re looking holistically at how we can truly support clients, not just in a communications capacity but in a business consultative one also. Challenging periods can often lead to a myopic outlook on short-term business so we’re encouraging clients to look beyond the immediate weeks ahead and ensure any strategy has their long-term brand in mind. When COVID-19 abates, its critical businesses don’t lose sight on their long-term brand purpose.

This interview is part of a series published by BusinessWire. Read the full series here