“After many years of political uncertainty, and then a devastating flood in 2011, in 2012 Thailand's economy is finally showing signs of bouncing back,” says Vatcharaphong Siripark, senior vice president of Total Access Communication (DTAC), the second largest mobile telecommunications company in Thailand.
He believes this is fuelling a boom in the PR industry. However, Pongthip Thesaphu, communications director at the Unilever Thai Group of Companies, believes the industry has been on a growth curve for much longer. “There has been a steady growth in the Thai PR industry over the last five years,” she says. “As companies cut back their advertising budgets they turned instead to PR which offers a better value route to maintaining brand presence.”
Both agree that amongst Thailand's larger companies PR is a well established discipline that is approached strategically, and which increasingly embraces social media. What is more, many Thai companies have become adept at exploiting regional media, gaining coverage in Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and even Australia.
That is though only the larger companies. Most observers agree that Thailand's smaller companies remain relatively naïve about the potential of PR. Indeed many see it as little more than sending press releases to publications that are running their ads.