Anne Costello, Regional Director, South Asia, Text100
More has changed in the last 5 years than the preceding 15 years I think. That’s good; otherwise I may have got bored! The changing media landscape, the role of social networking and blogging has forever changed the way we communicate on the behalf of our clients. We’ve also seen that trust is built in different ways – people look to people like themselves for opinions more than institutions now. People – and journalists - also expect a more 1-1 communication.
More has changed in the last 5 years than the preceding 15 years I think. That’s good; otherwise I may have got bored! The changing media landscape, the role of social networking and blogging has forever changed the way we communicate on the behalf of our clients. We’ve also seen that trust is built in different ways – people look to people like themselves for opinions more than institutions now. People – and journalists - also expect a more 1-1 communication.Anne was appointed Text100’s Regional Director for South Asia in August 2010. In this role she is responsible for the success and growth of Text100’s client relationships, consultancy and teams in Australia and India. In India, she is responsible for Text100, VoxPR (Text100’s sister agency) and the agency’s Global Resource Optimisation (GRO) business. Anne has nearly 20 years’ client-side and agency communications experience in Greater China, India, South East Asia, Japan, Australia and Europe. She is experienced in traditional and social media relations, branding, corporate and product campaigns, crisis and issues management as well as influencer and employee programmes. She advocates a very results based and audience centric approach to all her campaigns and has lead programmes for business to business and consumer clients including Nokia, Lenovo, IBM, Adobe, Standard Chartered Bank, Symantec, Microsoft, Virgin, Coca-Cola, Xbox and FLIP.
Text100 is the world’s only global boutique PR consultancy. Every second of every day they combine deep industry insight with analyst, social media and traditional media reach and a best-in-class service ethic. And they do this in all the major cities around the world. This approach has won Text100 many awards, but more importantly. They have some of the most powerful brands in the world as clients such as American Express, Cisco, eBay, Xerox and Philips. They apply the same passion and professionalism to every client, large or small. Q. How has the journey been so far since you joined Text100? I’m a returnee to Text100, so my journey is different to quite a few people’s in the company. I first joined in London as a graduate AC. I then left after 5 years and went in-house as I wanted to get an understanding from the client’s perspective. I then rejoined in Australia six years ago. I knew after using other agencies as a client, Text100 was the only agency I’d ever rejoin.
Q. How has Text100 fared since the start o this financial year? Our financial year starts August 1st so we’re just over half way through our first quarter. Things are looking good from our existing client base and new clients. Social media is on everyone’s radar and we can show examples of what works and what doesn’t, so I think that, along with our great people talent, stands us in a good position in 2011
Q. Please tell us a little about your various services and which ones are your fortes? Our services cover traditional and digital media, internal communications, CSR, influencer relations, measurement and evaluation, messaging and strategy development and media training. Our sweet spot is in delivering integrated comms campaigns that take their lead from what will resonate with the purchaser. For B2B clients, we may look at traditional and social/digital media as well as influencer relations; for B2C clients it might be a pure online campaign with stunts, competitions, and more non- media type work.
Q. Who are your closest competitors and what do you do different to stay ahead of the competition? Competitors vary across the globe, but in every market we see the traditional global competitors of Ogilvy and Edelman. Depending on the brief we’re now seeing digital and ad agencies also pitching for social media works. What’s different about Text100 is- that as well as strong PR skills, global best practice, technology understanding and digital experience we have this amazing family oriented culture that counts just over 500 staff globally, who work together like friends. We’re flexible and willing to push the creative boat out and try something different. I think lots of bigger agencies aren’t able to do that, and lots of the small one’s don’t have the international experience or the digital skills for it.
Q. Given your clientele, Text100 seems to have ventured into providing PR services to clients from varied backgrounds. How does Text 100 meet the specialized PR needs of the clients? We’re clear at Text100 that our heritage is technology and we love it! The role technology plays in our lives now versus what it did 20 years ago is dramatic. So, today we use our tech background and PR approach we’ve learnt, and mastered in such a fast moving sector, and adapt it for new sectors. We’ve also bought a lot of people into our agency from travel, FMCG, CE, finance and digital backgrounds to cater to the whole market out there.
Q. You have been associated with Text100 for a while now. What has changed in the PR domain since you took over? More has changed in the last 5 years than the preceding 15 years I think. That’s good; otherwise I may have got bored! The changing media landscape, the role of social networking and blogging has forever changed the way we communicate on the behalf of our clients. We’ve also seen that trust is built in different ways – people look to people like themselves for opinions more than institutions now. People – and journalists - also expect a more 1-1 communication.
Q. What is Text100’s vision and what is it doing to realize it? Our vision is to become the number one digital communications agency. Why? Because we believe that with an integrated digital approach, we will deliver the best results for our clients. We’re ensuring that each of our consultants across the globe is a confident social media and digital communications consultant. We‘re also bringing people into our agency from a digital as well as a PR and communications background.
Q. Last year during recession many companies were seen cutting back their marketing and PR budgets. How was 2009 for Text100? It was a tough year for all agencies but the impact in Asia – and in India and Australia in particular – was much less than anywhere else in the world. We saw budget decisions slowing and projects put on hold in India. We knew that if we stuck with our clients though during these hard times that both parties would come out stronger and that’s what has happened.
Q. Compared to other markets how is India different and what can it learn from more mature western markets? What I’ve seen on my most recent visit is that the role social media is playing in communication campaigns is approximately 18 months behind other more mature markets. What I also see is the need to look at two distinct audiences in the ‘two Indias’. One is the affluent group and the other is the masses. When communicating with the affluent group, then tactics employed in other more developed Western markets translate well and the use of online and digital is the piece India can learn most about. When it comes to communicating with the masses- who are not online- then I think India is ahead of China but can learn from countries such as Malaysia and where we utilise radio a lot for our campaigns.
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