Agency Profile: RICE Communications

Agency Profile: RICE Communications

Telum is looking to highlight the diverse and vibrant agencies in the Southeast Asian PR agency landscape in upcoming editions of our PR Alert. We want to encourage networking, business opportunities, and to celebrate the great initiatives being worked on around the region. If you'd like your agency to feature, get in touch.

What services does the agency offer?
RICE is an independent, pan-regional strategic communications consultancy that helps brands bring their stories to life. Our goal is to become the best communications consultancy to work for and with. We’re not there yet, but we're making good strides.

Together with our partner AKIN, we also run LAB360, which helps brands design, integrate and innovate marketing and communications.

What size is the agency?
We have around 60 full-time staff across Singapore, Hong Kong and Myanmar. 

Where does your agency have an office?
We are headquartered in Singapore and have offices in Hong Kong and Myanmar. We also have partners across APAC and beyond.

Do you have a particular area of focus? 
We work with clients from a wide range of sectors - enterprise technology, media and ad tech, professional services, hospitality, automotive, and the public sector. 
We also work with many of our clients on a regional basis, providing multi-market support either directly or through our growing network of partners.

Who is the founder and why did they start the agency?
Our founder, Sonya Madeira, has always been passionate about communications and building an independent agency that is centred on people. It was this drive that led her to found the agency in 2009, in the midst of a recession. Over the years, the team has collectively grown the business and expanded into new service areas and markets.

Tell us about the leadership team.
Based in Singapore, James Brasher is our Managing Partner, overseeing RICE’s business across all offices. He has over 25 years of communications, media and journalism experience in Asia Pacific. Mayda Jutahkiti, General Manager of our Singapore office, oversees our local team and operations.

Donna Garcia heads up our Myanmar office. As Associate Director, she founded our Myanmar office back in 2014. Phoebe Sou leads our Hong Kong team as General Manager. Our leadership team also includes Neil Mirano, Director of Client Services, Suman Saurav, Director of Client Services, Agung S. Ongko, Director of Strategy & Insight and Head of LAB360, and Zixin Chai, Director of Development.

What is next for RICE? What is the five-year goal?
To keep working on becoming “the best communications consultancy to work for and with.” As such, employee engagement will continue to be a big focus for us. On the business front, we continue to grow the business in ways that make sense for our people and clients. A key to this growth is also our partnership with AKIN.

In a sentence, describe your ideal relationship with a journalist. 
Give journalists a good reason to write.

Tell us about a campaign you are currently working on or are particularly proud of.
A campaign that we hold close to our hearts is the work we did with the European Union Delegation in Myanmar around gender-based violence. We conceptualised and managed an integrated campaign that underpins the critical role of men and boys in promoting equality and creating a safe world for women and girls.

Any key PR trends your agency is keeping an eye on?
Intelligence is an area that we are very interested in. We’ve been taking on more work around brand audits, customer journey mapping, and competitive analyses. These are important building blocks for developing an effective marketing and communications strategy.
Internal communications and employee branding, while not new, is another growing area of interest for us. With organisations increasingly looking for new and better ways to engage talent, we are looking at providing strategic counsel on messaging and initiatives, but also how we can complement that with external communications.

What skill sets do you look for in new hires?
During the hiring process, we tend to focus on the candidate’s potential and motivation, rather than solely on skill sets. We want to be a part of an individual’s growth journey from the very moment that they join us. We also look for culture add, not fit, as part of our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

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