Hiring a PR firm can amplify the good work that your company is doing. Here are the important facts on public relations and what it takes to get the story out.
By Khalil Adis
Few people know that prior to being in the property industry, I was doing editorial and public relations work in the lifestyle industry (do check out our portfolio section here).
I don't blame them really as my property work is more prominent.
While my firm’s core business lies in editorial, social media, research and due diligence work, we do handle public relations for our clients who are primarily property developers.
Last year, however, we took on a client in the wellness industry to help them penetrate the Singapore market.
The challenge we faced was their product is relatively new to the region with very little public awareness save for social media marketing.
As such, it was very difficult to pitch the client’s story to the press as they are not the big brand cosmetics.
In fact, some had asked for the client to advertise in order for the editorial team to come down to ‘cover’ the press conference.
In the end, however, we did manage to garner SS12,000 worth of PR value for the client.
#1: PR value
A PR value is derived by calculating the advertisement value times three.
Why times three?
This is because an editorial is considered three times an ad value as the story is deemed newsworthy enough by the editorial team.
In this case, we managed to get an editorial exposure on an advertising space worth S$4,000 without the client having to spend a single cent.
In the field of journalism and public relations, this is the ideal outcome professionals would like to achieve.
#2: Not every news or corporate announcements are of public interest
We get it that your event is important to you and your company.
After all, you do need to sell an X number of products as part of your company’s bottom line.
However, those boardroom announcements on launching a new website are of little relevance to the public.
An exception, of course, is if you are a government body who is launching a new platform that allows the public to check for traffic/health/transport etc information online.
This was in fact how I spun the story for a Malaysian property developer when they launched a community safety application.
The challenge was the client requested to call for a press conference in less than a week.
In three days, I contacted the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), did up a community policing and safety fact sheet and arranged a press conference.
In the end, the client was very pleased as we had delivered a PR value of more than RM500,000.
The key winning formula here is the client gave us their 100 per cent confidence to do the work while keeping a hands-off approach when dealing with the media with a realistic expectation given the short work turnaround time.
#3 Be realistic
I always find myself having to tell my clients to be very realistic when they demand to be on the cover of every major newspaper in the country.
Before putting out your news announcement or hiring a PR agency, ask yourself, how is this relevant to the public?
The exception is of course if your company has discovered a cure for cancer backed by research.
As a newsmaker, you must always put yourself in the shoes of the reader.
Does your news scream “front page news”?
#4: Understand the 5Ws and 1H
When pitching your story to the press or hiring an agency to do this for you, it is imperative that you understand the 5Ws and 1H formula that journalists use in the newsroom to determine the newsworthiness of a story.
What are the 5Ws and 1H? They are the Who, Why, What, When, Where and How.
Who is involved?
Why did it happen?
When did it happen?
Where did it take place?
How did it happen?
Every day, the newsroom receives hundreds of media releases and invitations.
Why should your event be an exception?
#5: There is no guarantee on publicity
A public relations campaign takes time to build up especially if you do not have a sexy angle to sell to the press.
Most often then not, it is the soft skill that gets the story out like a good relationship with the press.
This can help to open doors.
While a story may not be suitable for this week, it will probably be of relevance to the journalist a few months down the road.
The key is to be consistent in your media engagement.
One PR practitioner’s pet peeve is when a client asks to guarantee a certain number of coverage in the media.
While we will endeavour to do our best, there are certain things that are beyond our control.
For instance, should a war break out in the region today, the story that the journalist had promised to cover this week will most likely be cancelled or postponed as the entire newsroom will be devoting their resources on this breaking news.
For clients that want guaranteed publicity, then taking up an advertising space (with the title: advertorial) or hiring a media buying agency is the way forward.
A vibrant district is about to take shape over at Woodlands Regional Centre in the next 15 years with enhanced connectivity to Johor Bahru via the Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link. We give you the quick low-down on this gateway district to Singapore.
By Khalil Adis
Living in Woodlands is about to get even more exciting as Woodlands Regional Centre will be developed into a sizeable commercial hub and bring jobs closer to homes in the northern region of Singapore.
Comprising 100 hectares of land, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) envisages Woodlands Regional Centre to become home to new spaces for industry, research and development, learning and innovation over the next 15 years.
Just last month, the URA released a white site for sale under the reserve list of the second half of 2018 Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme.
A white site means it can be used for different functions such as commercial, residential and industrial.
The sale of the site is especially momentous as it will provide a seamless connection for commuters travelling to Johor Bahru via the RTS Link by 2024 at Woodlands North MRT station before disembarking at Bukit Chagar station.
Here are a few quick facts on the site:
#1: Located next to popular shopping mall, Causeway Point
The site is located within Woodlands Regional Centre which comprises two complementary precincts - Woodlands Central and Woodlands North Coast.
The white site itself is located at Woodlands Central which the URA said will be transformed into a bustling commercial and community node with a mix of office, retail, residential and attractive public spaces for live, work and play.
#2: A vibrant mixed-use site with a GFA of 115,000 m2
The mixed-use site measures 2.75ha and can potentially generate some 115,000 m2 of gross floor area (GFA) for office, residential, retail and entertainment uses.
At least 45,000 m2 of the maximum permissible GFA of the development will be set aside for office use.
Meanwhile, the URA said the remaining GFA can be for additional office, retail, entertainment and residential uses.
#3: 27,000 households in northern Singapore set to benefit
According to the URA, the new public spaces planned for the precinct can be enjoyed by more than 27,000 households in the vicinity.
Woodlands Central will also serve as a community gathering point for the residents in Woodlands and the rest of the north region.
#4: Strategically located above the upcoming Woodlands Thomson East Coast Line (TEL) station, (TE2)
The site is planned to be seamlessly connected to the existing Woodlands MRT station.
As such, the site will enjoy a direct connection to both the Thomson East Coast Line (TEL) and the North South Line (NSL) via the Woodlands TEL station, (TE2).
From the TE2 station, commuters can hop onto the RTS Link at Woodlands North MRT station located one stop away to Bukit Chagar station in Johor Bahru.
#5: Direct basement connection to TE2 station
The new development will have a direct basement connection to the future Woodlands TEL station, providing shoppers and commuters with easy access to the rest of the stations under the TEL.
This includes the Central Business District, Marina Bay and the shopping, dining and entertainment options at Orchard Road.
#6: 100,000 new jobs
When fully developed, Woodlands Regional Centre will have about 700,000m2 of commercial space and offer approximately 100,000 new jobs.
#7: Innovation district at Woodlands North Coast
Meanwhile, a mixed-use business cluster will be coming up at Woodlands North Coast which will include future industrial and business park spaces.
Woodlands North Coast will be served by the Woodlands North MRT station
The URA has envisioned it to provide flexible workspaces that encourage experimentation and innovation and are geared towards the needs of both small to medium enterprises and multinational companies.
As we can see from the infographics above, prices of HDB resale flats across the board have fallen except for executive flats.
However, the upcoming TEL and developments at Woodlands Regional Centre will act as a property booster for homes in the area.
The opening of Woodlands TEL station and Woodlands North MRT station will be the first property booster followed by the rest of the developments that are being planned.
Homeowners of 3-, 4- and 5-room HDB flats should hold on tight to their properties in the next 15 years before selling.
Meanwhile, it is a good opportunity for home buyers to start their property hunt in Woodlands and wait for the capital appreciation as Woodlands Regional Centre becomes more mature.
As for the RTS Link, the Malaysian government has remained committed on completing this project.
In fact, this is one of the major infrastructure project that will be carried on under the newly elected Pakatan Harapan government.
For a detailed master plan of Woodlands Regional Centre, do check out the URA site here
Announced under Budget 2019, first-time homebuyers should take advantage of the schemes that are being rolled out by the federal government.
By Khalil Adis
In case you had missed the good news that was announced during Budget 2019, there will indeed be more help coming your way if you need help in buying your first home this year.
Here are the quick low-down on what the schemes are.
#1: P2P (peer-to-peer) Funding
This is a private sector-driven “Property Crowdfunding” platform to serve as an alternative source of financing for first-time house buyers.
It will be regulated by Securities Commission.
The P2P exchange will go live in the first quarter of 2019.
How it works:
Interested applicants will need to put a 20 per cent downpayment while the remaining 80 per cent will be funded by investors.
Exactly when and how this will be done will be announced closer to the date by the Finance Ministry.
Who should apply:
Those who have the required 20 per cent downpayment. It is not clear if this is in cash and/or EPF.
#2: RM1 billion fund allocated for first-time homebuyers
This is a special fund for those earning less than RM2,300 a month.
The fund can only be used to purchase properties priced up to RM150,000.
Bank Negara will be setting up the fund. More details here
The fund is available for two years until the allocation is spent as of 1 January 2019.
You may apply for them at the following banks at a rate of 3.5 per cent:
#3: RM25 million fund allocated for first-time home buyers
This is a special fund meant for those with a household income of up to RM5,000
The fund provides a mortgage guarantee to enable borrowers to obtain higher financing, including deposit fees.
The fund can is for first-time house buyers who are purchasing properties worth up to RM500,000
The fund will also provide a grant stamp duty exemption of up to the first RM300,000 on transfer instruments and loan agreements for two years until Dec 2020.
The fund will be run by Cagamas.
Unfortunately, details are scant. You may check Cagamas Bhd for updates.
If you are unsure about the procedures on home renovation, fret not. Follow these six simple steps to a fabulous-looking home.
By Khalil Adis
The new year will probably see some homeowners moving to a new home and embarking on their home renovation.
While many will likely take up a home renovation package, some may opt to do them in stages.
In fact, this option is ideal for those who do not wish to take a loan and will allow you to have full control over the cost.
However, taking the first step in home renovation can indeed be a bewildering experience especially for the uninitiated.
I mean, where do you even start?
This was indeed the question I had asked when I first received the keys to my new home.
When embarking on my own home renovation project, I chose not to take a loan as I do not wish to burden myself with debt.
While my DIY renovation project is still a work-in-progress, here are some tips that I had learnt along the way.
Follow these steps so that your own home renovation will go off without a hitch.
#1: Work on your floor plan first
If you do not have any training in interior design, then you may wish to either engage an interior designer to do the proposed layout or using interior design software like Homestyler.
For detailed tips on some of the interior design basics, refer to my previous blog post here.
#2: Turn on your power and gas supply
This is a crucial second step as you need power and gas before embarking on your labour of love.
The latter is ideal if you want to have piped gas for your stove and water heater.
Otherwise, you can opt for LPG gas delivery from the various local supplier.
However, do note the gas cylinders do take up a significant portion of your kitchen cabinet and you may run out of gas while cooking.
#3: Decide where you want to place your air-conditioning units and then install them
You can make this decision by drawing the proposed location on your floor plan.
The number of air-conditioning units depends on the size of your home.
Go for inverter units as they are energy saving and come with energy saving modes.
You will need to install your air-con first before working on the next step.
#4: Work on the lighting points from the floor plan and then call in the ceiling contractor
This is an important next step before calling the carpenter to install your cupboards and other fittings.
As you can see from the floor plan that I have uploaded here, it shows the location of the existing lighting points.
From the location of the cupboards and fittings, you can then plan where you want to install the lighting points.
Be sure to plan this to a T as you will be charged around S$65 for each lighting point.
Next, you need to order your own LED lights.
There are many brands in the market.
I opted for Xiaomi Phillips Zhirui downlight as they are value-for-money and come with an adjustable colour temperature that can be controlled from your phone.
Unfortunately, they are not available in Singapore so you will need to order online.
You then need to download the Mi Home app in order to control the lighting.
For ceiling works, you may wish to opt for a combination of an L-box and cove lighting (see above).
An L-box can dramatically alter the ambience of your room making it very welcoming while giving the illusion of height due to the indirect lighting.
This will costs around S$350 onwards.
You may also opt for a cove lighting to give a very clean and intimate feel to your living space.
However, do bear in mind it reduces your ceiling height due to the plastering and ceiling works.
The cost varies according to the size - typically it starts from around S$500 onwards.
You may also choose to opt for a centre ceiling flat panels.
This will cost around S$400.
The contractor will build the L-box and false ceiling around your already installed air-conditioning units.
Speaking of which, I would also urge you to install ceiling fans even if you have already installed an air-con system in your home.
This is because natural ventilation works best in our tropical weather and it can significantly cut down your electricity bill by up to 20 to 30 per cent.
Choose one that comes with LED lighting.
While there are many brands in the market, most are not aesthetically pleasing.
You might want to opt for a timeless design like the Haiku L-Series Fan.
Although slightly pricey, the fan is surprisingly quiet and comes with 16 levels of brightness.
I chose black as they fit with the monochromatic colour scheme of my home.
As for installation, you can opt for it to be installed for you (assuming the rest of the lighting works are already done).
Otherwise, the ceiling contractor will charge you S$60 for installation.
Remember, you will need to show this lighting plan to the ceiling contractor/electrician so they can execute it accordingly.
Try to get at least three quotations.
Word-of-mouth referrals, in my opinion, work best.
#5: Call in the carpenter
Now that you have installed your lightings and finished with your ceiling works, it is time to work on the rest of your fittings like kitchen cabinets and cupboards.
The carpenter will build your fittings up to the height of your false ceiling.
Generally, fittings will require a space of around 600mm.
However, if you do not have enough space, measurement of 300mm onwards works just fine especially if it is for display cabinet in the living room.
If you need flexible living space, go for slidable/foldable doors.
I particularly like those from Ewins as they come in a myriad of design and are customisable to your living space.
They are slightly pricey from the usual carpenter’s quote but worth considering especially if you live in a small apartment like mine.
The staff are also very helpful and can help you draft a design before proceeding to install the fittings.
#6: Blinds/curtains should be the last
Now that you have everything in place, you can dress up your windows with either curtains or blinds.
Curtains will require regular washing so it may not be ideal if you do not have the time to do it.
If you want a clean, modern look, then blinds are the way to go.
They are many options to choose from in the market according to the interior design theme you have in mind.
A parting word
In closing, a DIY home renovation project will require your 110 per cent commitment and attention but the outcome is worth it.
Remember to not spend more than 10 per cent of the purchase price of your home and to use neutral colours as they are easy on the eyes.
Most importantly, enjoy the entire design process, do not rush it and unleash your creativity to make the living space uniquely yours.
An independent analysis from yours truly