Here is my interview conducted with Startup.info to shed light on entrepreneurship, its difficulties and advice for new startups in the PR industry. Startup.info is the first collaborative magazine dedicated to the promotion of startups, featuring successful and inspirational startup stories from around the globe.
First of all, how are you doing in these COVID-19 times?
Thanks to the prompt reaction and consistent control of the coronavirus, Vietnamese people didn’t have to suffer long. Our daily lives as well as domestic commercial activities have resumed since the end of April 2020. But business-wise, if a company works with foreign partners, it will be affected accordingly since the foreign partners are under the influence of the pandemic in their home countries. And this is our case, since most of our clients come from overseas, so our business was affected accordingly.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company
Ten years into the PR and communications industry, I work as a professional communications consultant and researcher with my own boutique agency, called EloQ Communications. The name ‘EloQ’ is short for eloquent, describing our goal of facilitating strong, clear, and fluent communication between our clients and their stakeholders.
Southeast Asia, and Vietnam in particular, has always been viewed as the ‘less-developed area’ of the PR industry. Despite the non-stop efforts to improve service standards, little recognition has been given to PR professionals and the PR industry in this part of the world. In 2015, with my passion for supporting clients and determination to leverage my home country’s PR and communications services, I founded EloQ Communications to aim for the international clientele, and domestic companies that want to upgrade their PR activities in Vietnam. Our goal is to provide top-notch services to meet our foreign clients’ inquiries while meeting professional & ethical standards.
While refining our services, EloQ Communications also joins international PR networks to build a reputation and empower Vietnamese PR practitioners’ voices in the global PR landscape. I hope that in future regional or international PR and communications conferences, people will have a different view on SEA and Vietnam’s PR industry.
How does your company innovate?
EloQ Communications started as a traditional PR agency. As time goes, we added additional marketing services to position ourselves as an integrated marketing communications (IMC) agency. From traditional PR to digital strategies, EloQ now executes versatile 360-degree campaigns for our clients with diversified services. Our innovation doesn’t stop at increasing our service range. We constantly update new technologies and our expertise to offer our best support for our clients.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finance and money?
The most apparent difficulty stems from the fact that the majority of our clients come from overseas, including those countries that are under the heavy influence of the coronavirus. As a result, these overseas accounts were pending or delayed until further notice, leading to slow growth in business for EloQ Communications.
On the other hand, we see this as an opportunity to expand our domestic clientele, and targeting clients from new markets that are now free from COVID-19, such as China.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
I’m a PR practitioner choosing to run my own business, not a business person who decided to open a company in the PR industry. Therefore, I met many difficulties with business management and human resource management earlier in the business. This is one thing to which PR agencies owners in Vietnam can relate. Boutique agencies like ours face the same problem over and over again: employee recruitment, employee retention, and conflict negotiation. These are what I had to learn on the job, and our company did make an improvement over time. However, it’s undeniable that the lack of human resource knowledge is the greatest difficulty when I started the company.
Your final thoughts
After years of striving, the PR industry in Vietnam is now step-by-step building its name among our global peers. We’re seeing more PR agencies from Vietnam receiving recognition from international PR associations, and winning awards in regional and international competition. The same goes for EloQ Communications. We have been recognized by many global PR networks for our rising standards – which is a fruitful result of our monthly internal training policies. I am also serving as Southeast Asia PR and Communications Board Member – The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), and Global Executive Board Member – World Communication Forum Association (WCFA) to voice opinions and contribute insights from the Asia and Southeast Asia region.
For startups in the PR industry, business founders should pay attention to honing their entrepreneurial traits, which includes: determination, self-trust, eagerness to learn, flexibility, positivity, and patience (but sadly, they often overlook this suggestion). It’s vital to refine their skills to take on a founder’s role, including business management, human resource, finance, strategic thinking, consulting, and negotiation skills. Among them, management, human resource, and finance skills are more essential. A founder must find the right balance between maintaining that image and adapting to the new roles as the company grows to maintain the competitiveness of the founder and tap into the new challenges during the growth stage.
Finally, in 2021, EloQ will strive to become the best choice for multinational companies who want to promote their products and services to the local public in Vietnam. And continue to update new technology and new practices to deliver top-notch PR & marketing campaign in Vietnam and SEA. May the new year will be prosperous to all of us!