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Brand Leadership – The Role of Public Relations

No brand is built overnight. A brand leader tends to pop up in the minds of consumers when they meet a certain situation or think about a specific product. There are multiple facets to brand leadership, so I am featuring a couple of relatively young but innovative brands to illustrate the role of branding and public relations (PR) when positioning an outstanding product or service for market leadership.

Positioning and Branding

Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be. These often involve asking difficult questions within your company, but these answers will help to sharpen your branding and become more memorable to potential partners as well as customers.

Take the example of Go-Jek, Indonesia’s leading ride-hailing app, which has recently closed a funding round in Feb 2019 valuing the company between US$8 – 10 billion. The initial inspiration for Go-Jek arose from the traffic-clogged streets of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital. In Jakarta, rush hour commutes lasting two to three hours are common. Often, the best bet to avoid the gridlock is to hail an ojek (motorcycle taxi). Go-Jek began in 2010 to enable customers to order an ojek by phone. In 2014, inspired by the success of Uber and other ride-sharing platforms, Go-Jek upgraded its brand positioning by launching a smartphone app. The very next year, to keep drivers busy all day outside rush hours, Go-Jek launched Go-Send (a courier service) and Go-Food (food delivery).

According to Bahari Chandra, Creative Director at Go-Jek, their team tapped on creative branding campaigns when launching its product. For example, by putting up a wordy billboard at the road with the most traffic in Jakarta, it allowed motorists to read the whole copy while they are stuck in traffic! This advertisement ran for a month, reaching an estimated 45 million Indonesians while communicating Go-Jek’s brand proposition towards the end of the message.

From our summary above, you may have noticed that Go-Jek chose a name that is intimately associated with its service, and its branding strategy is clear about how, what, where, when and to whom to deliver a brand message. All these are key building blocks in Go-Jek’s branding strategy and your brand should strive to adopt similar branding best practices.

Content Creation

The importance of relevance in content cannot be understated. Brands must be connected to something that your target audience is interested in or looking for. One strategy is to keep up with current trends and seek authentic, relevant ways to connect your brand with those trends.

Take the example of Realme, an innovative smartphone brand from China, that is making headway in Indonesia. Its Indonesian Instagram following has rapidly grown to around 90,000 within a couple of months. As you can see from this screenshot, Realme has associated itself using bold visuals with PUBG (one of the hottest video games worldwide) and flash sales promotions with e-commerce platforms (Shopee, LazMall).

Brand Leadership – The Role of Public Relations

Source: Realme Indonesia Instagram Account

At the same time, Realme tapped on a series of press releases to publicize its brand through news such as selfie contests, featuring social media hashtags such as #SelfieContest & #25MPSelfiePro, across South East Asia’s consumer electronics media. Through the delivery of content through both earned and social media channels, Realme emphasizes its brand positioning. “The Realme U1 is for those who bravely express themselves. With them, we hope to deliver breakthroughs in technology, enjoy the beauty of style, stay true to ourselves and be proud to be young,” says Josef Wang, Marketing Director Realme Southeast Asia.


After your brand has created fantastic content, the next question is how to get this in front of your target audience? Channels are important to amplify the impact of content through shares on social media or press coverage of your brand. Right from the start, it is advisable for your brand to plan a sustainable channel strategy where paid, owned and earned media feed upon one another.

Just leveraging on your owned media channels (Facebook, Twitter, blog etc) may not raise your brand to the eye level of your target audience. Credible, third-party articles (earned media) is consistently viewed as one of the most influential types of media, ranking first in the U.K., America, and China. “Many people just consider industry luminaries when thinking about influencers, but many of our clients have received additional sales and leads after sharing media articles about their brand on social media”, Royce Shih, Vice President APAC Sales & Marketing at PR Newswire Asia, told me. “Think of media channels as super-influencers that brands must cultivate as social media advertising gets more expensive with increased bidding competition. A regular flow of news about your brand can help to build mindshare with journalists over time. Brands may tap on press releases to share curated content such as new products, infographics, white papers, and any valuable and therefore newsworthy information.”

Brand Leadership – The Role of Public Relations

Source: Cision

Monitoring, Measurement, and Evaluation

Most PR professionals prefer to steer clear of vanity metrics without a clear link to revenue. This is fairly easy to do in owned and paid media, where you can define actionable metrics, such as the clickthrough rate on your paid social posts (instead of the number of views) to help your brand make better decisions about future strategy.

But what about earned media metrics? Many brands find it a challenge to monitor and measure such campaigns and rely on vanity metrics, such as the number of “likes” or LinkedIn “shares” generated by content pieces. The good news is depending on what press release provider you choose, you can now map content to actual revenue impact. You can now tell what type of reader is viewing a piece of earned media if they click on an article, goes to your website, where they go on your site and whether they buy a product or request more information. “Measurement can frequently be an afterthought in earned media though it is critical to PR success,” says Richard Moylan, Regional Sales Director, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia & Australia at PR Newswire Asia, “so knowing the reach and revenue impact of your brand’s earned media is absolutely critical to enhance future campaigns.”

Winning the News Cycle

Brands should never settle for a piecemeal PR approach. Instead, your brand should plan for a succession of stories to launch. As an initial story is gaining traction and attention, begin to seed the next story to media channels (through press releases or a targeted media outreach) and fans. This way, while your brand is within the news cycle, the next story will gain more traction and more likely to get noticed for publication.

By launching a regular stream of high-quality stories, your media contacts are more likely to approach you for fresh content. In addition, brands should also leverage earned media articles by sharing on their social media channels to amplify to their target audience. “When it comes to determining what type of content to promote, it is not an either/or proposition,” says Royce Shih. “But by beginning with a solid foundation of content published on trusted, third-party media channels, all other content will have a greater impact.”

To learn more about how Earned Media Management works, visit the link below on the Cision website.

Brand Leadership – The Role of Public Relations

This blog post is written by Jx Tan is PR Newswire’s Head of Content – APAC. He is a MSc (Marketing & Consumer Insight) graduate from the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.