If lessons from 2019 were anything to go by, climate-conscious businesses will play a bigger role than ever in effective brand communications. But what might this year bring to the table? Directors from Hill+Knowlton Singapore dish out.

Sherawaye Hagger, consumer practice director

TikTok will become a core part of the PR strategy

Given the need for authentic brand messages to be amplified by those with influence, we believe that social platforms will play a make-or-break role in the success of many brands in 2020. With platforms like TikTok providing the kind of scale that is interesting to brands the world over.

No longer is TikTok just for the cool kids and ‘Gen Zers’ but it’s time we bring this social platform to the adult’s dinner table. It has finally came of age and was welcomed by a host of Hollywood stars like Ellen DeGeneres, Will Smith and even BTS, all of whom jumped on the bandwagon last year.

The interest in TikTok will become part of our staple toolkit for all consumer brands in 2020. What this means is we will see the dominance of ephemeral content. Indeed, it will become an art form. Creating fun, interesting and ultimately different types of content will be paramount for brands. Audiences will move away from “vanilla” content as who really wants to see another yet another influencer creating a generic pretty picture?

While TikTok becomes the latest must-have handle, what’s interesting is that it’s a Chinese-based company. Not only could the emergence of TikTok be the start of the tide turning for Western social channels in 2020, but with it comes the recognition that we need to address the larger issues behind all social channels – that of values and trust.

How social media channels will be monitored and regulated will be a hot topic for 2020. Governments and social media channels will see increasing pressure in the usage of data. However, consumers will become more interested in how these platforms will help combat some of the issues that have plagued such as low self-esteem and social bullying.


Yiting Foo, corporate and financial practice director

Corporate reputation will be even more critical

Asia’s rapid shift towards a digital workforce of the future has led to a noticeable change in the way companies in business sectors offered their services in 2019. The move towards digitisation has resulted in increased focus on promoting technology adoption, more employee training to enhance digital skills and knowledge, and for some companies, entirely new business models.

Given that, a key trait of brand authenticity is transparency, and conversations around cybersecurity, cyber hygiene and data protection have become increasingly common across sectors. This means that on top of ensuring consumers’ data privacy, companies’ communications efforts are expected to be timelier and more accurate.

On the financial front, Singapore’s new listings have seen an improvement with Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) offerings dominating in 2019, while the M&A market remained on the uptrend. While REITs and Trusts continue to anchor the capital market, we are encouraged by this momentum and expect to see more potential market entrants in 2020 that will hopefully span a broader and more diverse nature.

Despite Singapore’s susceptibility to market volatility as a highly open economy, the island-state will remain a compelling destination for companies looking to springboard their business into Asia in the coming year.

In the face of this evolving operating landscape, we expect that companies will place even greater importance on managing potential issues and crises early so that they are well-prepared to respond and safeguard their corporate reputation from the get-go; whether through issues preparedness or a robust crisis communications protocol.

Alongside, we also expect to see more companies focus their efforts on elevating their reputation through employee-led thought leadership opportunities to ensure their brand is authentic and visible.

Selena Sheikh, technology practice director

Past tech trends will become a reality

We saw big technology brands impacted by regulation, geo-politics and transparency issues in 2019. While technological progress will continue to evolve and drive conversations globally for decades to come, we will see the promise of 5G, AI and blockchain become a reality across the fast-developing markets here in Asia.

This will allow young, nimble companies to leapfrog those with entrenched legacy ways of working. Well-established companies will need to prove that they can walk the talk and define how these applications benefit their customers within their existing business models or, indeed, pivot to brand new ways of working.

The winners of this race will lead with purpose, showing that they not only understand their customer needs but that they care and will treat their customers’ planet, data and privacy with respect. Enterprises need to evolve beyond transactional exchanges to striking a balance between tech innovations and thoughtful accountability.

Today, more than ever, technology companies need to speak with an authentic voice that is backed with their technological or scientific expertise.

This article first appeared in PR Week.