Telum Talks To... Oliver Ellerton, Director and Founder, Ellerton & Co.
Telum caught up with Oliver Ellerton as he shares what inspired him to establish his boutique agency in Singapore, the challenges he faced and how the agency and its offerings have evolved over the past six years.
You moved to Asia more than 10 years ago and set up Ellerton & Co in 2014. What drew you to start your own consultancy in Singapore?
I used to manage the PR and marketing for a major international hotel chain in Malaysia, joined a startup that took me to the Philippines and Indonesia before moving to Singapore to work with a global PR agency. So, I already had a lot of experience working in Southeast Asia, specifically in the field of PR. With that, I understood the nuances of PR in various Southeast Asian markets.
Setting up Ellerton & Co. Public Relations was a natural next step. I noticed some of the gaps in service that the larger agencies were not providing their clients and believed that I could set up a company that could fill these gaps. More personalised service, a senior PR specialist working directly with the client and being accountable to results.
Can you share some challenges you've encountered in the process of building the agency to where it is now?
I would say the biggest challenge was actually starting it. Having worked in companies my entire life and receiving a constant monthly paycheque to quit and set up my own company was scary to say the least! But I think this is more psychological and once you make the move then there is no turning back. The key to building any company is hiring the right talent and a lot of thought needs to be put into this, but when you get it right then things start moving on their own.
Has there been a shift in terms of the strategies Ellerton is using?
I think that PR agencies need to provide more than just PR, and in fact, they should almost act as a conduit to a range of additional services that clients need. The scope of work that we are providing our clients now looks quite different to only a few years ago. For example, for current clients we are managing their online ad spending, performing app search optimisation as well as pushing out press releases and managing media engagement. For another client we are building a new website, designing their social media animations as well as organising webinars.
So, we brought on new capabilities and new talent that can provide additional services for clients. However, the principles by which I set up the agency are the same - there is still one dedicated senior PR consultant that works with the client, who is the main point of contact and is accountable for the results, be that for SEM, PR, design or other work. Our clients have worked with us for many years with the same experienced consultant working with them and so while our own services may evolve, the quality remains the same.
How has PR evolved over the past couple of years and what changes do you expect to see?
PR does not just mean media coverage or content anymore but has evolved to mean much more than that with clients expecting digital capabilities and design abilities as a must. This is one of the bigger changes I have seen over the years. We also have had to become much more flexible in the creative solutions that we offer clients, physical events are out and webinars are in, the way that brands are getting their messages out there and media consumption habits are changing. Podcasts are a good example and there are also many non-traditional media outlets out there that we need to be aware of. Lastly, I also think this basic understanding of what PR is and isn’t is improving among clients and prospects, and this has allowed us as an agency to offer more creative solutions to clients.
Lastly, can you tell us what is it about PR that keeps you excited?
What I have always liked about life in a PR agency is the range of clients that we get to work with on a daily basis. I have experience in both in-house and agency side and this diversity is far more exciting. We have clients in tech, architecture, ride-hailing, financial services and more and as a news junkie, I like the fact that there are always creative opportunities to have our clients join the conversation.