|"With increased demand for PR services, PR firms have mushroomed in recent years." — Illustrative image/Photo haiquanonline
HCM CITY (VNS) — The public relations industry in Viet Nam has huge potential to develop, but a legal framework and code of practice are needed to ensure healthy development of the industry, according to experts.
Many PR companies have told Viet Nam News that the increase in foreign-invested firms and the need to build a strong brand image among local and foreign firms have offered a vast opportunity for the PR industry.
Nguyen Quoc Bao, managing director of the HCM City-based Awareness i.d Public Relations, which is among the biggest private PR firms in the country and was recently awarded a Certificate of Excellence in Public Relations from the ASEAN PR Network, said the PR industry had developed rapidly in recent years, achieving double-digit growth despite an economic downturn.
"Viet Nam together with Indonesia and Myanmar are countries that have high potential for PR development in South East Asia region," he said.
Many multinational groups have entered the Vietnamese market in the last two years by acquiring local PR companies, which is a good sign but still a big challenge for local companies, he said.
"Such entry by foreign groups has forced local firms to standardise their operation to compete with their foreign rivals," he said.
Le Thu Quyen, general director of Galaxy Communications, which has nearly 20 years of operation, said the local PR industry had encountered challenges, including unhealthy competitive environment and violations of intellectual property rights, affecting its reputation.
With increased demand for PR services, PR firms have mushroomed in recent years.
"Many of them have not focused on the development of their service quality, but conducted unhealthy practices by lowering prices to win contracts," she said.
A lack of specific regulations on the operation of PR companies has led to the uncontrolled proliferation of companies with such unhealthy practices, companies said.
"PR is included in the advertising industry. But in the Advertising Law which took effect last year, there is no specific provision for the PR industry," according to a representative of a PR company, who declined to be named.
Another challenge facing the PR industry is the lack of professional human resources, said Nguyen Thanh Dao, general secretary of the HCM City Advertising Association.
"To promote the development of the domestic PR industry, and protect the legitimate interests of professional PR companies, we want the Government to have a legal framework with specific regulations and principles, enabling the control of service quality of PR companies and ensure a healthy competition," Quyen said.
In addition, Quyen and Bao had the same idea that an association of PR companies in Viet Nam needed to be established.
"Besides protecting the legitimate interest of its members from intellectual property violations and unhealthy competition, the association would map out common codes of practices for the field," Quyen said.
Dao of the HCM City Advertising Association said the association would petition the Government to amend the Advertising Law to include provisions on the operation of PR industry.
He also suggested that PR firms focus more on improving their professional operation, train human resources and exchange experiences with international communication firms.
According to Bao, in Viet Nam, most people do not fully understand the field of public relations.
A professional PR agency does not only mean working with journalists, or organise press conferences, plans eye-catching events, and sets up interviews.
The agency must also have understanding of the client's business and its target public to be able to generate insights that offer sound strategic advice, presented as part of a holistic PR strategy to help the company maintain a good reputation, he said.
There are about 200 companies offering PR services in Viet Nam, of which 20 per cent run PR services only, Bao said, adding that the number of companies that can offer consulting service to clients are very few. — VNS