Telum Talks To... Jeremy Foo, CEO and Founder, Elliot & Co.
Telum caught up with Jeremy Foo, CEO and Founder of Elliot & Co. He shares with us how he disrupted the SME industry by introducing strong PR, and what he did to stand out from competitors.
What has your journey been and what were your struggles as an entrepreneur in the communications industry?
I am often inspired by the passion of startup founders, but I noticed that these startups - no matter their innovative ideas - were severely left behind by PR firms. When I first started Elliot & Co at the end of 2016, startups and SMEs were not given the attention that they receive today. After identifying this large market gap, I set out on a mission to democratise the PR space, giving this underserved segment of the market a chance to be heard. At the time, a large majority of these firms were not aware of the value of strong PR in building a brand. As a result, the biggest challenge was in educating and persuading these firms to invest capital out of their limited financial budgets into a PR campaign.
Another challenge that we faced in our early days was in attracting PR talent into the company. PR practitioners at the time were understandably attracted to bigger and more glamorous names in the industry. We turned this distinct challenge into an Elliot & Co. strength, selecting applicants from varied industry backgrounds who showed passion and willingness to learn. Team members who once served as journalists, cabin crew members, and even lawyers brought different invaluable qualities to the table such as writing and customer relations which are all essential in an evolving PR landscape where a lot of what used to work may not make sense any more, and a more nimble and agile mindset is required.
Do you have any tips for start-ups and SMEs when doing PR in the corporate-focused media landscape?
My biggest advice is to never underestimate the power behind a strong brand story. A brand story goes further than just building awareness of the brand, it also provides an outlet for consumers to emotionally connect with. In a crowded media landscape, it can be difficult to find emotional resonance with your target audience, something that builds trust, credibility and eventually, repeated buying. Without a strong voice and resonance in the market, it is difficult for any business - no matter how innovative their ideas - to secure a strong foothold in the market. While it may be difficult to observe tangible returns on investment in PR, a strong PR campaign may just be the biggest deciding factor in your success amongst your industry peers. That’s why we take brand stories very seriously as we believe in creating a narrative for a brand that is able to breathe life into an otherwise untold story.
What did you do differently starting Elliot & Co. that enabled the firm to stand-out from its competitors?
To venture into a new space in the industry, we had to be innovative in our approach to PR campaigns. To best fit what startups and SMEs were looking for, we eschewed pricey and long term retainers in favour of modular, campaign-based arrangements, giving our clients flexibility to tailor our PR services to their specific objectives and business goals. We focused largely on developing a strong partnerships team beyond our PR consultants who are capable of educating firms on the value of PR campaigns and pitching our unconventional modular campaigns.
In conjunction with a revitalised campaign approach, we also provide materials to educate our clients on the importance and value of PR. Our Campaign Explainer Video and our 8-step guidebook made it easy for our clients to understand PR. In doing this, we want to help startups build their own campaigns instead of working with us as the only option.
As a leader, what is important for you when creating a workplace where people can flourish?
In Elliot & Co, our team members are the greatest assets to the organisation. As a leader, I strongly believe in empowering and supporting our team members, from our account managers to our interns. We ensured that we had a structure that effectively trained, developed and recognised our team members. This entails thorough onboarding plans, weekly check-ins, performance recognition bonuses, and other talent management initiatives.
During the uncertainty of the pandemic, we also provided close support to our team members by providing four additional leave days for vaccinations jabs. We also consider it our greatest pride to have retained the entire team during the height of the pandemic.
What can we expect from Elliot & Co. in the foreseeable future?
This is only the beginning for Elliot & Co. We strive to continue disrupting the PR landscape with our innovative albeit unconventional approach to PR. We will continue to champion the underdogs in the market - not just in Singapore, but with continued expansion into the Malaysian and Indonesian markets with future growth into the rest of Southeast Asia.