Dr. Clāra Ly-Le of EloQ Communications tells us about her boutique public relations & marketing agency.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Dr. Clāra Ly-Le: Thanks to the prompt reaction and consistent control of the coronavirus, Vietnamese people didn’t have to suffer long. Our daily lives, as well as domestic, commercial activities, have resumed since the end of April 2020. But business-wise, if a company works with foreign partners, it will be affected accordingly since the foreign partners are under the influence of the pandemic in their home countries. And this is our case, since most of our clients come from overseas, so our business was affected accordingly.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded EloQ Communications.
Dr. Clāra Ly-Le: Ten years into the public relations (PR) & communications industry, I work as a professional communications consultant and researcher with my own boutique agency, called EloQ Communications. The name ‘EloQ’ is short for eloquent, describing our goal of facilitating strong, clear, and fluent communication between our clients and their stakeholders.
Southeast Asia (SEA), and Vietnam in particular, has always been viewed as the ‘less-developed area’ of the PR industry. Despite the non-stop efforts to improve service standards, little recognition has been given to PR professionals and the PR industry in this part of the world. In 2015, with my passion for supporting clients and determination to leverage my home country’s PR & communications services, I founded EloQ Communications to aim for the international clientele and domestic companies that want to upgrade their PR activities in Vietnam. Our goal is to provide top-notch services to meet our foreign clients’ inquiries while meeting professional & ethical standards.
While refining our services, EloQ Communications also joins the international PR network to build a reputation and empower Vietnamese PR practitioners’ voices in the global PR landscape. I hope that in future regional or international PR and communications conferences, people will have a different view on SEA and Vietnam’s PR industry.
How does EloQ Communications innovate?
Dr. Clāra Ly-Le: EloQ Communications started as a traditional PR agency. As time goes, we added additional marketing services to position ourselves as an integrated marketing communications (IMC) agency. EloQ now executes versatile 360-degree campaigns for our clients with diversified services from traditional PR to digital strategies. Our innovation doesn’t stop at increasing our service range. We constantly update new technologies and our expertise to offer our best support for our clients.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Dr. Clāra Ly-Le: The most apparent difficulty stems from the fact that the majority of our clients come from overseas, including those countries that are under the heavy influence of the coronavirus. As a result, these overseas accounts were pending or delayed until further notice, leading to slow growth in business for EloQ Communications.
On the other hand, we see this as an opportunity to expand our domestic clientele and target clients from new markets free from COVID-19, such as China.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Dr. Clāra Ly-Le: I’m a PR practitioner choosing to run my own business, not a business person who decided to open a PR industry company. Therefore, I met many difficulties with business management and human resource management earlier in the business. This is one thing that PR agency owners in Vietnam can relate to. Boutique agencies like ours face the same problem over and over again: employee recruitment in Vietnam, employee retention, and conflict negotiation. These are what I had to learn on the job, and our company did make an improvement over time. However, it’s undeniable that the lack of human resource knowledge was the greatest difficulty when I started the company.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Dr. Clāra Ly-Le: We don’t apply any digital tools or applications to manage customer relations. Our agency has a dedicated account management team to take charge of customer relations and project management. A few years ago, our agency had a multitasking structure. Our executives would both conduct client services and execute a campaign. But later, the internal team was divided into ‘account management’ and ‘PR & communications’ divisions to manage our ongoing campaigns more effectively. This structure allows EloQ to keep a close distance to our clients and their industry. As a result, the account executives can act as EloQ’s representatives in front of our clients and also as the clients’ representatives in front of our internal team.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Dr. Clāra Ly-Le: No. Fortunately, our agency does not have to apply for a governmental grant to sustain the company during the pandemic.
Your final thoughts?
Dr. Clāra Ly-Le: After years of striving, the PR industry in Vietnam is now step-by-step building its name among our global peers. We’re seeing more PR agencies from Vietnam receiving recognition from international PR associations and winning awards in regional and international competitions. The same goes for EloQ Communications. Many global PR networks have recognized us for our rising standards – which is a fruitful result of our monthly internal training policies. I am also serving as Southeast Asia PR and Communications Board Member – The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), and Global Executive Board Member – World Communication Forum Association (WCFA) to voice opinions and contribute insights from Asia and Southeast Asia region.
For startups in the PR industry, business founders should pay attention to honing their entrepreneurial traits, which include: determination, self-trust, eagerness to learn, flexibility, positivity, and patience (but sadly, they often overlook this suggestion). It’s vital to refine their skills to take on a founder’s role, including business management, human resource, finance, strategic thinking, consulting, and negotiation skills. Among them, management, human resource, and finance skills are more essential. A founder must find the right balance between maintaining that image and adapting to the new roles as the company grows to maintain the competitiveness of the founder and tap into the new challenges during the growth stage.
Finally, in 2021, EloQ will strive to become the best choice for multinational companies who want to promote their products and services to the local public in Vietnam. And continue to update new technology and new practices to deliver top-notch PR & marketing campaigns in Vietnam and SEA. May the new year will be prosperous for all of us!