News and Insights

Telum Talks To Yeap Yin Ching, Managing Director, Ying Communications

November 12, 2015

Yeap Yin Ching, MD of B2B agency Ying Communications, shares the story of how it all began in 2001 with just her husband, Allan Tan, and her wanting to do what they loved – writing. It’s been an amazing journey and the agency will be celebrating its 15th anniversary next May.

Can you tell us about how Ying Communications began and what stage you’re at now?
My husband, Allan, and I started Ying Communications in 2001 because both of us love to write and wanted to do what we loved. It’s been an amazing journey and it’s hard to believe that we will be celebrating our 15th anniversary next May. Today we have a team of 35 in Singapore who are defined by their love of all things B2B, plus some great partners across the region and indeed, the world.

We were one of the first, if not the first, agency set up locally to fully focus on B2B. While the potential in this space may seem obvious today, it certainly wasn’t a decade ago. Initially we had some B2C clients, but we soon realised that it was in the B2B industries that we formed the strongest partnerships with clients and provided the most value.

Today, we have both the mind-set and the processes to pick up highly technical industries – whether it is IT, oil and gas, chemicals or satellites – quickly and effectively. So whether clients need marketing or PR, we start from a strong foundation of “getting” the industry we are talking about.

You’ve recently announced several new client wins. What is your business development strategy and what sectors and markets do you see as your greatest opportunities for growth?
Honesty and integrity is very important to us, and our clients know that we aren’t in it for a quick buck. If something doesn’t make sense, we will tell them to keep their money. As a result, 90% of our clients come from word-of-mouth, which is great. Our main business development strategy has been to do our absolute best for each client and trust that they will return. We are grateful to have some very loyal clients who often take us with them when they move to other companies.

There are two other reasons we have enjoyed good growth through the years. First, our sweet spot has been in enterprise technology and there is still plenty of opportunity here. We see a lot of interest from the tech start-ups who love that we understand the industry and have done work for their bigger peers, so we are gaining a lot of traction here.

Secondly, we have been adding technical industries to our portfolio and so have a good breadth of coverage. From a predominantly tech agency when we started, today we also have some great clients in oil and gas, chemicals, satellites (very cool), automotive, functional food ingredients and many more.

How do you manage regional work from your HQ in Singapore?
The majority of our clients work with us as their regional agency. We have had the privilege to develop global and regional marketing campaigns that are rolled out across multiple markets. For PR specifically, even though we don’t have our own offices in other countries, clients trust us to drive their campaigns locally through our network of partners – currently about 70% of our retainers are regional.

Clients are becoming smarter and now realise that a big name agency with a big network doesn’t necessarily translate into a higher standard of service. So more and more clients are coming to us for our B2B methodologies and processes, which are then applied across a strong network of agency partners. We have some great partner agencies across Asia Pacific, some of whom work with us for multiple accounts for several years. These are typically independent specialist agencies who know their stuff and share similar values. We couldn’t do it without them.

How would you describe the Singapore communications and PR landscape and how do you see it developing over the next five years?
I’ve been doing this for more than 22 years and some things haven’t changed, while others have. Working at Singapore Airlines taught me the importance of great service and even better service recovery when things go wrong. Being honest and showing the clients you are doing your absolute best for them are still totally relevant today.

What has changed are the platforms – much more digital and social today – and the speed of communications. More than ever, clients need to be transparent and responsive, and think about their messages very carefully. Anything you say can and will go around in the world in a second.

What are the key issues that are going to keep you and your clients busy in 2015?
There are significant consolidations of businesses in many of the industries we work with, as companies try and find ways to build better economies of scale and combine complementary technologies and market presence. For companies that remain independent, it is still a period of tremendous change which results in a need for sensitive yet effective change communications.

We are also seeing a growing pressure on internal marketing and communications teams to deliver great results with falling budgets. The answer, while simple, isn’t always easy to execute – you have to work smarter, and this is only possible with the right partner. We excel in situations where clients are willing to see us as an extension of their internal teams, rather than a straight supplier. When that happens, it’s a great feeling all round, which in turn, typically produces great results.

How do you see the local media landscape changing over the next few years?
We are in the business of thought leadership. Trade and business media have been our partners in this for years. Moving forward, we believe that the trade media have an incredible opportunity to extend their influence and coverage by seeking non-traditional platforms to share insightful, actionable content that will raise the conversation within any industry.

Where do you get your news from?
Mainly through digital, social media and messaging platforms. It’s a natural and fast filter to get the latest news from the communities we live and work in.