Public Relations work in the Philippines (2019)

Public Relations work in the Philippines (2019)

The PR Challenge in Visayas-Mindanao


Communications have vastly improved in a few years. We can now do call and video conferences. We can do collaborative work online. This has made PR or public relations in the Philippines especially in the Visayas and Mindanao islands easier. Or has it?

Doing public relations in the Philippines, especially in the Visayas and Mindanao islands, poses a challenge, said PRworks Inc. founder and CEO Doris Isubal-Mongaya. Long before she founded PRWorks Inc. in 2004, Mongaya helped TeamAsia do events in the cities of Cebu and Davao. She considers TeamAsia’s Mike and Monette Hamlin her mentors.

Doing public relations across different islands

One daunting reality is geographic, Mongaya said. The task means often going around the different urban centers — Cebu, Bacolod, Ilo-ilo, Ormoc, Tacloban, Tagbilaran, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, and Zamboanga.

The Philippine archipelago is composed of three major island groups — Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Since 2004, PRWorks Inc. had grown into a premier, full service public relations agency that is based in Cebu City, the country’s second biggest urban center in the Visayas. The agency serves such brands as Globe Telecom, Ford Philippines, and Tiger Air (Taiwan) in making PR work in the Visayas and Mindanao Islands..

“Unlike doing public relations in Metro Manila where one can go around by car, the different key cities especially in Visayas are located in different islands. This means travelling by plane or boat and overnight accommodations,” said Mongaya.

Then one has to take into account the different languages and cultures. Of course, also consider an undercurrent of resentment directed at journalists who come briefly from Imperial Manila.

Through the years, only a handful of Manila-based practitioners and agencies have done public relations work in the Visayas and Mindanao. But, it seems not anytime soon.

Philippine Public Relations Congress 2019

The Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP) invited PRworks Inc. founder and CEO Doris Isubal-Mongaya to speak before the 26th PR Congress 2019 on September 24-25 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasig City.

“Who can say no to Jones T Campos?” Mongaya said. Campos was the one who asked her about delivering a talk before public relations professionals in the Philippines on doing PR in the Visayas and Mindanao.


Takeaways & updates


Changes in the PR or public relations terrain in Visayas and Mindanao

  • Shift to digital media

    A combination of factors pushing newspapers to go digital. The factors include: advertisers spending more on digital products; cost of paper; and more readers consume news in digital form. In Cebu where the newspaper industry is quite developed, the Cebu Daily News (CDN) stopped publishing in newspaper form. Instead, it became completely digital as CDN Digital. Other newspapers like Sun.Star Cebu and The Freeman merged their newsrooms for printed papers (both English and Bisaya dailies) and digital products. They are likewise exploring more digital products like online video news broadcasts and online panel interviews. The pressure to survive is more on other provincial papers in the rest of the urban centers in the Visayas and Mindanao.

  • Rise of digital news outlets and influencers

    Before CDN transformed into CDN Digital, there was Metro Cebu News. Today, Cebu is home of Inews.ph, BAI TV, and Clickcebu.ph. We also see the rise of bloggers, Youtubers, and other kinds of so-called online influencers. Globe Telecom began inviting bloggers to press conferences in 2010. Around a dozen would come. Imagine, during an event of Shell with actor Coco Martin as the main guest here in Metro Cebu, less than 10 journalists came along with over 40 influencers. Seeing this trend, PRWorks client Globe Telecom has started shifting the focus of GMEA or the Globe Media Excellence Awards towards giving out awards to mostly digital media achievements.

  • Journalists becoming government Public Relations men

    Efforts of mainstream media to trim its editorial operations through early retirements and retrenchments freed good writers to recruitment by politicians in the recent election campaign. When the smoke of electoral battle cleared, Cebu saw erstwhile journalists becoming PIOs or public information officers. Is this development good? Legit PR practitioners for brands might find this good as former journalists could be bridges to their politician principals.

  • News outlets prefer advertisers

    The pressure to maximize space, time, and effort to increase income by news outlets inevitably lead to preference for advertisers. It has come to a point that several outlets would not anymore use press releases if the brand has not placed ads in whatever form.

Challenges for the Public Relations practitioner

  • Refine skills on strategic communications

    Seeding copies of the same press release to VisMin journalists and influencers should end. In addition, many newsrooms don’t allow anymore the publication of press releases without ads. Still, one needs to maximize the value of the ads placed by producing news stories that authentically convey third party support, not praise releases. Moreover, messages go through various communication channels. No longer shall communication be limited to tri-media, even quad-media. Consider omni-media.

  • Need to establish authentic relationships

    A skilled strategic PR practitioner has done his homework well — establish authentic relationships with journalists and key influencers. As said earlier, the challenge involves the different media centers in various Visayas and Mindanao regions.

  • Strengthen capacity to make compelling content

Skills in strategic PR and authentic relations with journalists and influencers in key Vis-Min urban centers won’t be enough without compelling content.

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