Telum Talks To... Cid Santillan, PR Director, TeamAsia

Telum Talks To... Cid Santillan, PR Director, TeamAsia

Telum recently interviewed Cid Santillan, PR Director for TeamAsia about the company 30th anniversary and their passion for advocacy PR.

Congratulations on TeamAsia's 30th anniversary! Tell us what sparked the idea to launch TeamAsia's Advocacy PR.
This year, TeamAsia is celebrating its 30th anniversary in the marketing industry. Along with this milestone, we are officially transitioning TeamAsia’s Content Department to TeamAsia Public Relations (PR). Categorising our strategies and services in three units - Corporate PR, Consumer PR, and now officially, Advocacy PR, we believe that this transition solidifies the expertise of our PR department. 

Advocacy PR is not necessarily a new service under our PR department. We’ve always had the heart and passion for advocacies. In 2009, we began our very own advocacy, My Dream In a Shoebox, which aims to support less fortunate Filipino students with their school needs. From collecting and sharing shoe boxes with school supplies, it has now evolved to providing the tools they need to continue learning amid the pandemic. 

From our internal efforts, we see to it that our passion for advocacies transcends outside the walls of TeamAsia and work with various like-minded organisations. To name a few, we have worked with the Department of Health and its #TBFreePH campaign which aims to break the stigma against tuberculosis patients and survivors; and the Forest Foundation Philippines’ Best Friends of the Forest (BFF) movement to help preserve the country’s forests and natural resources. 

By officially adding Advocacy PR to our department, we hope to work with more organisations and contribute to efforts that will make an impact to society. 

In recent years, what kind of changes have you seen in terms of demands coming from clients?
Brands in the Philippines are now slowly shifting from corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes to greater causes that have a more lasting impact to the community. From corporate conscience and giving back to the communities they operate in, companies are now realising the need to push forward and take part in advocacies to better address pressing issues that our society is facing today.
 
As an agency, we encourage our clients to transform their CSR efforts into high-impact programmes. Doing so allows them to generate long-term solutions and create a positive change to society.

Do you think advocacy will be the next big thing in the PR industry and why?
Advocacy campaigns are not trends that brands can simply latch on for hype. It is a higher calling that serves a more meaningful purpose. It determines the kind of change that organisations would want to drive in society. 
 
Once an organisation starts an advocacy campaign, it won’t stop until it reaches its goal of addressing a certain societal problem. Brands will continue to collaborate with PR practitioners to expand their campaign’s reach and influence stakeholders to be allies. 
 
We believe that advocacy campaigns are here to stay because they matter, and they serve a bigger purpose. 

What are some of the challenges in doing advocacy PR in the Philippines?
Raising awareness about social issues often causes a divide among Filipinos and the causes they choose to support. This highlights the importance of continuously building awareness and developing impactful communication strategies to engage and influence audiences on the value of your cause and why it matters. 
 
We also found out that most Filipinos tend to have this ‘ningas-kugon’ mentality where they support a certain advocacy campaign but fail to fully commit. It slows down the campaign’s progress and sometimes forces advocacy fighters to start over. 
 
To address these challenges, we make sure to utilise the right platforms and maximise our timings. This is to reach the right people and engage stakeholders who are crucial to the success of our campaign. As an agency, it is our duty to continue the conversation about these issues to compel more people to rally behind these organisations.

What makes advocacy PR in TeamAsia different?
TeamAsia’s Advocacy PR stands out because we invest in deep research and curated insights. These enable us to develop effective strategies that would best communicate an advocacy campaign to the right audiences. This kind of system helps ensure that the campaign is seen, heard, and experienced.

Overall as an agency, our strategies are also anchored on our passion for storytelling that creates positive change. For the past 30 years, it has been our mission to go beyond what’s expected and see to it that our actions benefit not only our clients but also uplift our communities and the nation. This is what sets TeamAsia’s Advocacy PR apart from others - we live and lead with purpose.

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