Public Relations in the Philippines — 2020 update in Cebu

Public Relations in the Philippines — 2020 update in Cebu

Bobby Nalzaro, Doris Isubal-Mongaya, Ruphil Bañoc
Doris Isubal-Mongaya, founder and CEO of PRworks Inc., poses with Superbalita columnists Bobby Nalzaro (left) and Ruphil Bañoc (right). Bobby is also a columnist of Sun.Star Cebu, a top rated commentator of dySS, and news anchor of GMA 7. Ruphil, on the other hand, is the station manager of dyHP, columnist of CDN Digital and news anchor of CCTN 5.

Helping make PR work (2011-2020)

A lot happened to public relations some eight years since we first wrote this article in 2012 for PRWorksPH.com.

The changes in technology and subsequent impact on the media landscape in the Visayas and Mindanao in southern Philippines has profound impact on how we do public relations work.

This post explores the new trends for public relations in Cebu City in central Philippines this 2020 based on observations by the PRWorksPH.com team, says  PRworks founder and CEO Doris Isubal-Mongaya.

The Digital Shift

Many thought the decision of Cebu Daily News (CDN) to fold up its print version and go fully digital last year marked the beginning of the end of print media south of the Philippine capital, Manila.

The notion, as it is turning out, is a bit premature. Yes, the ‘print v. digital’ debate continues. Tremendous pressure in terms of lesser ad spend by the usual advertisers and lesser print readers go on hammering the print media. Still, the print version of Sun.Star Cebu and The Freeman, along with the Bisaya tabloid versions, managed to float.
Not just public relations practitioners however note the profound impact of digital transformation on what these two papers offer. The websites can now be accessed via mobile and social media channels especially Facebook. Sun.Star, for instance, has Newsbits Tonight, both English and Bisaya video news online. The Freeman, on the other hand, has persevered on its online forum of news makers.

Bisaya tabloids

Unlike the Cebu Daily News, both Sun.Star and The Freeman had long invested in the Bisaya tabloids. Sun.Star publisher Sonny Garcia and Editor-in-Chief Pachico A. Seares published the first Cebuano-language daily in 1994 that primarily catered to the B-C-D market in Cebu and neighboring provinces. The Freeman, Sun.Star’s main competitor in Cebu at the time, countered with the emergence of Banat News. Both Cebuano-language dailies grew fast and in a few years have overtaken the circulation of its sister publications.

Industry insiders attribute this rapid growth to the tabloid format, the use of the local language, and cheaper cost for readers. The Cebuano dailies became the print medium to reach out to the grassroots market. Moreover, both Sun.Star Superbalita and The Freeman’s Banat News benefit from the online services being dished out.

With changes in place in the Sun.Star and The Freeman newsrooms, we expect this trend to further gain momentum in 2012. Brands (and hence public relations) that target the A-B market in central and southern Philippines should consider the growing A-B audience of Cebuano-language newspapers.

mostly bloggers and influencers
During an event of Shell Philippines in Metro Cebu with actor Coco Martin as special guest, some 40 bloggers and influencers covered.

Rise and shake up of influencers

The above photo shows some 40 bloggers and influencers attending a Metro Cebu event of Shell in mid 2019 featuring the popular “Ang Probinsyano” actor Coco Martin. Some eight years before, gathering 15-20 Cebu-based bloggers would be a struggle.
Bloggers primarily maintain blogs. Vloggers do videos in their Youtube channels or other video platform. But influencers could also have wield influence in various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

According to influencermarketinghub.com, an influencer “is an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience.” He is “an individual who has a following in a particular niche, which they actively engage with. The size of the following depends on the size of the niche.”
Aside from CDN Digital, there is also the emergence of purely all news websites like iNews.ph.

Inews logo

CDN logo

Basically, influencers can be classified as:

  • Celebrities
  • Industry experts and thought leaders
  • Bloggers and content creators
  • Micro-influencers

However, the rapid rise of influencers have created skills and ethical problems in some. The lack of skills, for instance, can be seen in those who just post press releases in toto. This can be remedied by trainings for those who plan to upgrade. But more insidious is the existence of influencers who place more importance to their own benefits than delivering quality service. More agencies, and brands, have identified and will tackle this in 2020.

However, we note the rise of micro-influencers active in brand communities populated by fans. Brands will definitely benefit more from these kind on micro-influencers.

Content is king

Bill Gates predicted that “content is king” way back in 1996 as the future of the Internet. That was some 24 years ago. Today, the concept rings true, even broadened.

For most, creating content is primarily for digital platforms. But PRWorks consider as content writing for print publications. Today, the press release we write and send to publications get published in the printed newspaper along with the paper’s digital assets.
“We also seed to bloggers and influencers,” said Mongaya, the CEO of PRWorks.

Moreover, PRWorks now look at 2020 pursuing its own content marketing strategy starting with the “Eco-Friendly Sinulog 2020” campaign, she pointed out. One might even need to explore content for voice search.

Basically, content for the PRWorks brand helps answer the different questions raised by the brand, our campaigns, and by our different clients. When we do that, we expand our customer base while establishing thought leadership in the market. PRWorks emerges as a stronger brand in the eyes of our stakeholders. After all, we lead public relations agency in central and southern Philippines.

This way, PRWorks compete with the supposedly bigger agencies based in Metro Manila.

Focus on emotions

What makes content connect with your audience? The data used? The logical presentation of facts? Or the emotional association your audience finds in your content?
Smiling Kid
Marketers, for the longest time, had been using emotional triggers to hook their target audience to click or tap, like, comment, and share. The emotional connection and impact make for viral advertisements and stories.

The same triggers should also work public relations people who do content. The stories told in various platforms should sway people based on the emotions conveyed.

Think about that moment before you hit the share button. Something made you laugh or cry. Or the story might have made you gasp or cringe. The content hit you so strongly that you immediately wanted to pass it along to others.

Yes, the way content makes us feel is often what prompts us to hit the share button. And that’s why it’s such an important element of viral content. Expect more public relations personnel to focus on emotions in their narratives this year.

Agency partnerships

The wide gray area between public relations and marketing have made it more complex for PR agencies that need to prove their ability to deliver diversified services that go beyond traditional communications. For instance, PRWorks now has a working relationship with the Cebu-based Happy Garaje of award-winner artist Mark Deutsch. This unique startup of artists made its mark in unique international and local branding designs.

The agency likewise explored strategic partnerships with tech-related startups like cebutechblogger.com of Bert Padilla vis-a-vis this website and StartTechUp of Baptiste Laroux that helped us develop the Sinulog 2018 and Sinulog 2019 festival app.
Expect this trend to further intensify this 2020.


More about the Sinulog 2019 app


Fintech firm supports Sinulog 2019 app


Measurement of success

Many have been content with just looking at how posts are faring in terms of the number of views then tapping our shoulders for spikes. However, the increasing reliability of getting more real-time data alongside the insights we can pull from that data has given us should give us the notion of how we can measure our digital pr output. This way, we will be able to understand exactly how our message is received and who by. Moreover, we can use this information to adjust our communication and optimize its impact.

The year 2020 should see more businesses, not just public relations companies, requiring measurements of digital output and how the real-time analytics are being acted on.

We could even argue that data and analytics should be on the top of our list in guiding our digital strategy and tactics. Analytics technology has become increasingly sophisticated in recent years and lets you see everything you need about your audience. This goes beyond simply how many people are visiting your website or who is clicking on a campaign. Now is the time to take full advantage of this information and stay ahead.


A look at 2019 — Doris during the Public Relations Society of the Philippines on October 24, 2019


Read Part C  of the original article back in 2012. Back


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PRworksPH team

PRWorksPH Content Team is now composed of Emmanuel Mongaya, Alya Simone Mongaya, Patricia Quiachon, Sarah Vasquez, and Raphaella Bautista.

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