Telum Talks To... Ana Pista, President at Ardent Communications and Global PR Alliance Director
Telum caught up with Ana Pista, President at Ardent Communications and newly appointed Director at Global PR Alliance. She shares her plans for the alliance, her experience setting up an agency and gives us an overview of the Filipino communications and PR landscape.
Congrats on your recent executive board appointment by Global PR Alliance. As the first representative from the Philippines, how do you intend to contribute and strengthen this alliance?
It’s such an honour to be appointed as the first Filipina Global PR Alliance Director. My appointment is also very timely as we seek to highlight the importance of PR and continue to help build and rebuild brands through communication during this time. During the pandemic, ethical and effective communication is needed more than ever and this gives our industry a bigger role to play.
I am truly grateful for this opportunity and my goal as the Director is to showcase the strength and solidarity of PR practitioners, to further elevate public relations as a profession, and give a different light to what we PR practitioners do. When PR is being talked about globally, I believe that no one should be left behind and my role as the Director is to make sure that Asia and the Philippines are always part of the discussion.
Can you share your story and what led you to start Ardent Communications?
Working in the industry for a long time, I knew that pursuing a long-term career in the field of public relations was the perfect fit for my personality. I’ve always been so passionate about PR and communications and this made me decide to establish my own agency - Ardent Communications, which back then focused on a very niche market which is PR for IT.
Back in 1997, I noticed that there were already a lot of agencies catering to different industries, but there wasn’t one that focused on technology yet. I saw this as an opportunity, so I put up Ardent Communications. Ardent started because of that - the vision to become the pioneering tech PR agency in the country. I’m proud to say that we helped Microsoft launch Windows 95 when they entered the Philippines. Even when we were just starting, we had already worked with big names in the tech industry such as Seagate, AMD, Computer Associates, Oracle, HP, Canon, Norton, Symantec, and Lenovo.
How does Ardent Communications stand out from its competitors in the Philippines and the region?
As an integrated marketing communications agency, Ardent Communications is like a one-stop shop for communications requirements - from PR to events, digital marketing, creatives, and video production. We have the people, skills, and technologies readily available within our teams and our organisation, allowing us to offer seamless and more cost-effective services to our clients. We accept and fully embrace all the changes made during the digital shift, particularly the abrupt one brought about by the pandemic, and I believe this demonstrates our adaptability and resiliency as an agency.
Another thing that we are particularly proud of is our high client retention rate, which I believe is among the highest in the industry. Some of the clients we are working with have been with us for five years, some even 10 years. Welcoming just the right number of clients to serve gives us the opportunity to handle them the best way we can. I think this speaks volumes of how we do things at Ardent.
How would you describe the Filipino communications and PR landscape and how do you see it developing over the next five years?
I can say that PR practitioners in the Philippines are at par with other practitioners in the region and in the globe. We are adaptable and ready to embrace new tools and technologies in the practice such as AI. Even though the shift to digital was abrupt, especially for events, we’ve all been able to keep up. The pandemic certainly emphasised the need to embrace digitalization in the communications industry.
In the next five years, I see Filipino practitioners continuously adapting and recognising new means and tools to upgrade the industry for clients and stakeholders. It is also my hope that by this time, we already have an industry-wide, standardised way of measuring the results of what we do and will do for our clients.
Finally, what advice would you give to young guns starting in the industry?
The best advice I can give to the younger generation who wish to pursue a career in the industry is that they should keep their passion ablaze. There will be challenges but always keep in your mind and heart what made you pursue this career, hold on to that and that will help you pull through and make the impossible possible.
Another important tip that I can give to the young guns is that professionalism and ethics play a big role in our industry. Given the power that we have as communicators and how important the work we do is, I cannot stress enough how critical it is for us and our future practitioners to uphold good ethics and integrity at all times. The world is now teeming with fake news creators and trolls who pitch themselves as PR practitioners but are really as fake as the services they peddle. We have to correct this misconception by maintaining our moral compass. It is imperative for us to be decent and incorruptible in our practice.
Our industry needs young people who are dedicated strategists, critical thinkers, adaptive, and not afraid of changes. What you know now might be obsolete tomorrow, so never stop learning and enjoy the journey because your career in PR is one of the most exciting rides you will ever experience.