Telum Talks To: Ben Shaw from SE10

Telum Talks To: Ben Shaw from SE10

Ben Shaw is the Director and Partner of SE10, an integrated communications agency with primary focus on B2B public relations in the industrial sector. He shared with Telum Media his passion for industrial PR, how it traced back to his journo stint at a trade publication, and also the agency's work in the Asia Pacific region.

Thank you so much for chatting with us today! For those who are unfamiliar with the company, tell us a bit about SE10 PR. 
Thank you so much for having me! SE10 PR is an industrial, B2B PR agency. We have offices in Singapore, London and Chicago, and we work with brands, big and small, in the industrial space across key verticals including construction, transportation, building infrastructure, and more.

We help some of the world's largest companies communicate clearly with their target audiences through an integrated PR and marketing approach. 

As you mentioned above, SE10 is a B2B PR agency specialising predominantly in the industrial sector. Why focus on this area in particular?
Prior to launching SE10 22 years ago, I worked as an Editor at a construction publisher, KHL Group, based in the UK. While in this role, I noticed a wealth of industrial brands that needed help showcasing the great work they were doing. 

SE10’s work started with a couple of clients in the construction sector who I am proud to say are still with us today. From there, we branched out into other industrial segments and realised there was a need for PR agency support in many of these niche and incredibly important industries.
How has your experience in trade publications informed the way you do public relations today?
I think my experience has taught me the importance of storytelling in PR and communications. It also helped me understand how products and technologies that may appear insignificant are actually helping to build new cities, create new industries or radically change the way things are done.

So many industrial companies are doing great work but struggle to find the right way to tell their story. That’s where SE10 offers a real advantage.
You believe the key to a successful PR business is to make journalists’ lives easier when working with them. How has your team achieved this across the Asia Pacific region?
More than half of the account team at SE10 has been on the other side of the fence; working as journalists before making the move to a PR agency. We have people who have written for specialist trade titles, local newspapers and top tier publications, all of whom understand the pressures, challenges and frustrations that journalists face.  
For me, successful media relations in the Asia Pacific region (and beyond) requires two things - narrative and audience. Provide genuinely newsworthy stories that align with the publication you’re working with and understand the needs of audiences. For instance, the news agenda in Cambodia is completely different to that in Mainland China, so it is imperative to adapt.

How does the practice of B2B communications differ from B2C, B2G and others? What do you love about B2B comms?
We work across a range of complex but fascinating industries that communicate with specialists, so again, a fundamental appreciation of your target audience is a primary focus.

What I really love about B2B PR is the opportunity it provides to develop deep, sustained connections with our client's customer base and share detailed stories with them. Audiences in this space tend to conduct detailed research and absorb a lot of information about complex enterprise technology - there are no impulse buys. 

Similarly, product and service lifecycles can run for years or even decades, providing lots of further opportunities to connect with audiences. This gives B2B PR agencies the opportunity to tell more detailed stories over prolonged periods of time. This is another element of the B2B space that really appeals to me. 
How should a successful media relations practitioner operate in 2024? 
The fundamentals of PR success have not really changed since I started in the industry. The main key is providing journalists with relevant, timely and valuable stories. 

What has changed is the rapid shift to digital platforms and the way in which audiences gather their news. Deadlines are shorter and competition for attention is fierce. The flip side of this is that there are more opportunities for clients to tell their stories in new and exciting ways.  

We still believe that understanding the unique needs of journalists is the foundation of a successful media campaign. But alongside this, practitioners need to embed themselves in the shifting digital landscape. Understanding analytics, the value of various digital platforms and, increasingly, how we can harness AI are all becoming necessary skills for today’s PR executive.

I’m interested to see how much AI will transform the way we work in the PR sector. I firmly believe it is a tool to supplement our work for the better, not one to replace what we do.

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