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Enterprising public relations experts, The Right Spin, inject a bit of vavavoom to jump start local technology companies in the new economy. By Tan Li-Keng.

Three years ago, the dot com bubble burst. Public relations mavericks, Stacy Ang and Nancy Lim decided even then that it was a good time as any to start their PR business. The Right Spin, to provide specialized PR services to technology enterprises.

Despite the economic and dot com gloom, it was a dream team, as both Ang and Lim had cut their teeth in the marketing and public relations department for government technology body, National Science and Technology Board (NSTB).

They chose green as their corporate colour - "Green for growth!" remarked an optimistic Ang. "It was difficult coming up with a name, but with The Right Spin, we hope that we would not be thought of as spin doctors, but rather a company that understands the client product and ideas which we then communicate with the public through the media".

The Right Spin's mission is to help fuel the growth of technology companies through prescribing "result-oriented innovative, strategic and effective PR plans, with a focus on media relations". Their clients include small and medium enterprises (SMEs), venture capitalists, incubators, government agencies and research institutions.

Selling Technology

Ang was Head of the Marketing Communications Group at the NSTB, where she was responsible for all the strategic public relations programmes for promoting technopreneurship in Singapore and internationally. Having a firm grip on the technology industry, she understands that public relations is something that many small enterprises often overlook. "PR is vital to good business. Positive media coverage can really boost a company's profile and product," she said.

She noted that sometimes, it is difficult to convey to clients what they can do. "PR is something that is not tangible. We try to guarantee a certain amount of press coverage. But we have to let companies know that good press coverage cannot happen overnight. One needs to build good media relations and understand what type of news the media are after and to pitch ideas that are relevant. With a good understanding of the media, we can then help companies formulate strategies," explained Ang.

The company is always looking for creative way of approaching the media. Recently, they have started issuing press releases in Chinese. Ang explains, "Lots of business people read LianHe ZaoBao and watch the Chinese news. Many of our clients also want to reach out to China. The feedback has been very positive, because it saves them time translating."

Thinking out of the box may not always be associated with the PR business, but is an essential aspect. "While press coverage is highly desirable, we try to think of ways that will raise the profile of companies. For example, getting companies into conferences and awards." Ang cites the example of Green Dot Internet Services, which recently won a Intelligent Enterprise Award. The company had not considered entering, but The Right Spin knew what the organizers were after and helped with the award submission.

Just the right job for…

Besides media relations, The Right Spin also works with design houses to provide marketing and creative strategies, such as e-newsletters and websites for their clients. The cost of a PR campaign ranges from $3000 to $7000, depending on what services are required.

Ang noted that one of her most challenging projects to date has been the PR campaign for Systems@work, a mobile payment facilitator. Using Telemoney, people can make purchases with their mobile at Suntec City.

"Our challenge was to change the mindset of people and communicate that Telemoney is the future of money. And to make obvious that the mobile phone is an essential part of all our lives," says Ang. As the product was highly innovative, The Right Spin managed to garner over 100 pieces of news coverage in 2 years in local and foreign media.

Another project that Ang is proud of is the PR campaign for miw.com.sg, a lifestyle portal for National Servicemen commissioned by MINDEF. The Right Spin has had to come up with different strategies and creative events to raise the awareness of the website.

Small is right

The Right Spin consists of a team of four - besides Ang and Lim, they employ two account executives who have been with the company since they were formed. As a company, despite all the economic fluctuations, they have grown slowly and steadily, starting, with just two clients and they now have over 30.

Ang noted that that are many advantages of being small. "Everyone is heavily involved in the process, and play a number of roles. Besides we know each other so well, it is easy to toss ideas around and have fun with what we do," remarked Ang.

One of the problems Ang noted in some of the larger PR agencies in Singapore is that often when companies are pitching for a job, the 'experts' and the most senior people meet the potential client. But after the deal is clinched, they are serviced by junior staff. Said Ang, "With The Right Spin, the clients always get to work with the founders and the most senior members of the company. And clients appreciate that!"

"It's the attention to small things that sets us apart from other agencies," says Ang. "The Right Spin is run by Singaporeans, we understand the local situations better compared to larger agencies. I think it comes through in the small details - like choosing what restaurants for lunch meetings; for example the Chinese press often prefer to yum cha".

Another useful detail is giving our press releases in a CD-Rom. "This saves journalists having to download large email photo attachments - and everything is all there. So again, this saves journalists time and makes their job easier!"

Technology is and will remain the focus for The Right Spin, even though they have done PR for many other types of companies including a spa and a charity. An area that Ang sees breaching into is PR for the biomedical sector, which she sees as an area that has huge potential growth in Singapore.

Currently, The Right Spin is at crossroads. Both Ang and Lim know that they are on to a good thing and the future of the company is bright, but they also realize that they are at a point where they are deciding if they should continue to develop organically as they have done or expand with the aid of investors.

Being the Tech and market savvy people that they are, they will probably make the right decision.


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