The Vietnamese economy was the fourth fastest growing in the world in 2010, and rose from 88th place to 78th, according to the Vietnam Business Annual Report 2010, released by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the World Bank. In that year more than half a million new businesses were set up in this country of 85 million people.
The PR industry is also growing, but from a low base in terms of both size and sophistication. In 2007 it was not even an official business classification; it was simply another word for marketing or advertising. Graeme Domm, communications director at RMIT University Vietnam, says: “The greatest strength of the industry is the relative youth and energy of the people moving into it. They are giving it a tremendous dynamism. There is a willingness to
learn, to experiment, to try new things in the marketplace. However, this is also its greatest weaknesses.”
He continues: “There is not yet a depth of best practice international experience. There remains a strong tradition of simply buying editorial coverage through payments to journalists and other practices which would be frowned upon in most other countries. These practices weaken the credibility of media coverage. People are sceptical about what they read, see or hear.”
He reports that this is gradually changing. Last year RMIT University Vietnam produced its first graduates in ‘Professional Communication’. This, together with the arrival of international PR agencies and the effect of social media is accelerating the development of Vietnam’s PR industry.