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Building on market potential

Julian Rake from Quantum Media talks to the Post from his office in Phnom Penh last week.
Julian Rake from Quantum Media talks to the Post from his office in Phnom Penh last week. Athena Zelandonii

Building on market potential

When it comes to marketing a product or service, companies have numerous channels to get its message across. As Cambodia continues to attract international companies, The Post’s Kali Kotoski sat down with Julian Rake, managing director of Quantum Media, to talk about how the marketing industry is changing.

Why did Quantum decide to launch in Cambodia?

We realised that there was a lot of branding and marketing in the traditional sense, but that nobody was taking the lead in the public relations space. By PR I mean trying to get stories out for clients whether they are corporate or international organisations. And trying to get our clients’ stories into the press either through paid content or earned by interesting subject matter.

What is unique about the Cambodian PR market?

The exciting thing about the market in Cambodia is that it is still very new and fresh, and it has enabled us to expand quickly. Here, in terms of communications, there is a lot of fragmentation in the market. You have companies that specialise in only branding or marketing, and a lot of them say they do PR but don’t necessarily have the track record that PR requires.

How does Quantum manage the relationship between storytelling and corporate interests?

We try to be up front with our clients and tell them that maybe this is how you want to say something, but if you said it in a different way, it is more compelling. But it is not always easy because companies have their corporate stance. And if it involves too much corporate language, that will kill the story. When a company issues a press release that is dry, it makes it very difficult for editors to pick up on. I am not saying that every story we write is something that will knock an editor’s socks off, but at least we know what we are doing to catch their eye.

Do you expect the PR market to grow?

I think so. But it is still a pretty small market and that is why we haven’t seen any of the big global players in PR identify Cambodia as a growth market. In a country that has only 15 million people, and 3 to 4 million are urban, the biggest challenge is to expand communication services into rural areas. But there is still room to grow here and with issues in neighboring countries about freedom of the press and freedom of information, there is every reason to believe that Cambodia can step up into a more regional role.

Has digital or print advertorial content taken off in Cambodia?

Well of course being in 2016, digital is the masterpiece. But through print you can get exposure to an influential readership. Native advertising is a key part of any strategy for a new client. But how their brand or products actually tie into a newsworthy theme is a key part of trying to marry those things together. So if there is a story about education or about trade unions, our job is to think about our clients and make sure their voice is being heard.

How have local businesses changed their engagement model with the media?

I think the relationship is increasing compared to how business used to run in Cambodia and the way the media operates. There was never much trust between the two. Business would carry on regardless about what was said in the papers, and the papers would report regardless of what was being done. I am not saying that local companies viewed the media with contempt, but they didn’t see that linkage of how exposure can benefit them. Now they are starting to see that the media plays a part in that. A lot of this is because international companies have changed the dynamic for local companies.

Quantum launched a video and Facebook campaign called Proud to be a Cambodian. How did the success show the space for digital marketing growth?

We wanted to tell positive stories about Cambodia based on a ‘Humans of New York’ model. So we thought about the ramifications of telling these stories that weren’t ultra-nationalistic, but that told optimistic stories. In two months we had well over 2 million views on Facebook. There is no other medium that can give you that type of audience and that can track and measure for age, demographics and location. When you are trying to do a promotional video for a client, you present them the analytics and viewership and it is a very easy decision for them to make. And with the penetration of Facebook here, it really is Cambodia’s homepage. But of course Facebook won’t last because just like any social media platform, it gets stale. So you have to try to stay one step ahead.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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