Telum Talks To: Jerome Lau from Splash Productions
As 2024 kicks off, communications practitioners across Southeast Asia are busy diversifying their skill sets to better serve their clients. In Singapore, Splash Productions' Managing Director, Jerome Lau, is preparing his team for another successful year ahead, predominantly in the government relations space.
In an exclusive chat with Telum Media, Jerome explains Splash Productions' one-stop-shop approach to integrated communications.
Your agency provides clients with services including public relations, campaign strategy and creative production. What prompted this integrated approach, as opposed to a particular specialisation?
We operate in a very dynamic industry where today’s consumer behaviour and media consumption habits are constantly evolving and becoming more fragmented. Marketing and communication campaigns demand more multi-specialist agencies like us to provide expertise and support in integrated communication campaigns.
When we ideate and design a campaign with input from specialists, from the top to bottom of the marketing funnel, the solution, executed across different channels, becomes more holistic, cohesive and robust.
Your clients predominantly work in public service. How does your team inject fresh ideas into campaigns that are less consumer-focused and more administrative by nature?
Our target audience generally has a good level of trust in new programmes and initiatives put forth by our public service departments and government, so we already have a good start in terms of brand confidence. These public policies and programmes are also often well-debated and thought through to address the needs of these discerning audiences.
The main challenge of public service communication campaigns is maintaining your presence and positive engagement on newer social media platforms. It is important to adopt a nuanced approach that balances your key message with your client's brand, which is, for us, primarily government agencies.
TikTok and other social media platforms are highly competitive spaces, vying for attention from Gen Z, Gen Alpha and millennial audiences. Yes, we need to have fresh ideas to attract and retain attention, because ultimately, it's important to educate Singaporeans on the benefits of public policies and programmes.
Your agency launched in 2005. How has your team grown, and how do you attract and retain talent?
What we have done well is attract like-minded teammates who believe in our mission. Our mission is to deliver effective brand communications and make a positive impact on our communities. After that, it is always easy to attract and retain talent.
At Splash, we aim to foster a culture that promotes work-life balance and creates trust. For example, we implemented a work-from-home system prior to the commencement of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns and continue this practice to date. Additionally, every Friday is "Blue-Sky Friday", where teammates can head home in the afternoon once their daily priority assignments are completed. We also have a "work hard, play hard" attitude, which you can see on display across Splash’s social pages!
How have you grown the agency as a brand in its own right, while also working behind the scenes to support your client’s brands?
Splash focuses on two main areas: our mission and our people.
Part of our mission is to make a positive impact on our communities. With this in mind, instead of adopting a "don’t do this" approach, we propose ideas that bring people together towards a common goal. When we advise our clients, we strive to provide honest counsel backed up by supporting data and clear reasoning. If we always accede to a client’s demands, we risk losing our identity as well as our positioning as a quality agency.
The second area is our people. Every organisation is defined by its people and Splash is no different. We hire talented people who align with our beliefs and elevate the Splash brand.
What trends are you keeping an eye on in Singapore's government space in 2024?
There are many exciting new platforms where government brands can amplify their programmes and initiatives. We anticipate there will be an increased focus on cybersecurity, health and education spaces this year, amongst others.
What we will see this year is the Singaporean government's continued consultative approach and partnerships with the public on a variety of initiatives. The launch of Singapore Government Partnerships Office (SGPO) on 19 Jan 2024 as well as the Forward Singapore exercise, started in mid-2022, are examples of their commitment to this new approach.
Before the introduction of a major programme or initiative, the government will gather the public's views and opinions from the ground up. This consultation and feedback loop continues after a public announcement has been made by the government and guides the overall tone of voice for upcoming communications campaigns.