The Philippines, home to 7,100 islands and 95 million Filipinos, is one of the world's major markets. It is also one that is rapidly getting to grips with PR. “There is higher awareness of public relations today,” says Rochelle Gamboa Hilario, marketing and communications manager of Philex Mining Corporation, the country's largest mining company.
For those in the extractive industry PR is predominantly about the firm's social responsibility. “We have learned lessons from Enron and BP,” says Hilario. “It is no longer enough to simply manufacture, market and measure. Now more than ever, mining and oil companies need to win public trust and acceptance.”
For example, Philex has run the ‘This Mine Is Yours' campaign to transform the reputation of a gold and copper mining project in Zamboanga del Norte. It ran mine tours for national and local press and academics, radio roadshows, mining forums in the region, and publicity tours with the media. The result is that the media are now much more willing to listen to the company's position on the mining project.However, she believes this is also an issue for those in other sectors. “FMCGs have to show they care for the holistic wellness of their customers, the environment and the communities. Banks need to keep their customers happy. Politicians need to win and sustain public trust.”
As a result industry observers point to mounting professionalism within the Philippine PR industry. Both the Public Relations Society of the Philippines and the Philippine chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators are actively developing the PR industry by promoting the best campaigns, tools and leaders primarily through annual awards ceremonies.