As more international companies enter the Kingdom and domestic firms begin to see the value in branding, public relations firms are poised to see demand for their skills take off. The Post’s Hor Kimsay sat down with Pheng Kim Hoan, managing director of Two Way Public Relations, to talk about her personal entrepreneurial journey as well as the larger corporate communications sector in the Kingdom.
What did you do before running your own business, and what made you decide to start Two Way Public Relations?
After graduating in 2004 with a BA in general management, I worked for companies in neighbouring countries like Vietnam, Thailand, and Myanmar before coming back to Cambodia in 2009. I worked for the Canadia Group as an assistant to the vice president of the company in charge of public relations and marketing, and I was gradually given bigger and bigger opportunities at my job, until I was promoted to the chief public relations officer at the Diamond Island development. In 2014, my friends gave me the idea to run my own business and become a public relations service provider.
How much money did you need to run this kind of business and how did you first start?
Our company started in the middle of 2014 as All Public Relations. We began with $40,000 in capital and four shareholders. I started off with just one-third of the salary that I received at Canadia Group, and at that time I was a general manager and the company only had two staff members, me and one other employee.
In the first year, I only got two clients. But we finished the year with a gross revenue of $400,000. It was unbelievable, I was very happy.
How does the current growth compare to the first year?
Now we have more clients, five in total, who have signed a contract with us for our public relation services for one year. We also have clients who need our services for other projects. We currently have 12 employees with gross revenue of $1 million per year.
What do you think about the potential for growth in public relations in Cambodia?
Our country is a developing country and receives high foreign investment inflow. Those companies coming from developed countries, they clearly understand the advantages of spending their money to build confidence among the public through a professional public relations company.
There are a lot of domestic companies growing very fast, but they don’t yet understand the advantages of public relations services. I think they will gradually start to understand more, and this is another potential for us as a public relations company. Our vision is to look for domestic companies because they are growing and can pay more for public relations.
As a female entrepreneur, did you face any discrimination or obstacles because of your gender? What advice do you have for other female entrepreneurs?
I have not experienced any discrimination. The clients are confident in our company, and I think that, for this job, women have more potential than men.
Sometimes women can negotiate more successfully with men. [Men] have emotional feelings and value women; they want to give opportunities to women who have good skills. For example, a man, however high a position he has in a state agency or in a company, will always open the door for us when we walk together. Or sometimes, when we have an appointment, they will pay for us. In my experience, women are always given an opportunity.
For other women, I say if you have a dream, you have to start really working now to fulfil your dream.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.