Have a listen to our panel of experts discussing the challenges of ESG communications in South East Asia. They share lessons learned in regards to branding, marketing and communications decisions surrounding ESG and debate the importance of stringent reporting to hold businesses accountable.
The brilliant Lynda Hong, Senior Environment Correspondent at The Straits Times moderated the discussion with our panel of experts being:
Kavita Gandhi, Executive Director of the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore (SEAS)
Ken Hickson, Founder and Chairman at Sustain Ability Showcase Asia (SASA)
Joyce England, Head of Corporate Communications EMEA and APAC at Experian
While the benefit of incorporating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into business strategies is widely understood, there is still a fear among many of getting it wrong. Do too little, and you risk accusations of not caring; but do too much, and you risk being accused of greenwashing.
With both possibilities having real business consequences, navigating this road is challenging, but crucial.
The key lies in communication. Ensuring that the way you are conveying your ESG strategy is careful, precise and considerate, of both your audience and your context.
Download our whitepaper to delve into the ins and outs of ESG communications from our team of experts, where you’ll gain insights into:
The importance of having an effective ESG communications strategy
Dodging the landmines and avoiding getting it wrong
Making sense of the maze of terms, and how to use them effectively
As the home of some of technology’s greatest advancements and inventions that changed the world, Silicon Valley has become synonymous with innovation. And, whilst numerous cities have tried to replicate both its technological advancements and name, from the Silicon Valley of India (Bangalore), to Silicon Alley (a term coined in the 1990s during the dot-com boom in New York City) and Silicon Valley North (used to describe Ottawa during the 1990s), the term hasn’t quite stuck. Recently, however, Singapore has gained the coveted status of ‘The Silicon Valley of Asia’.
With Southeast Asia’s tech start-ups predicted to be valued at $1 trillion by 2025, Singapore is key to the region’s success. The country’s successful financial sector, government support and compelling policies which attract tech companies, and advanced infrastructure ensures its triumph as the next global technology capital. However, Singapore, much like San Francisco did, seems to be carving its own path within the technology world.
This blog will explore how Singapore is on its way to becoming a global technology hub and giving Silicon Valley a run for its money.
Singapore’s secret to tech success
Singapore’s rapid development in the late 20th century transformed it into a major manufacturing and financial hub. But the continued drive to invent and innovate – which are ingrained in Singapore’s culture – have helped to foster a collaborative environment for both startups and established companies within the technology industry.
Additionally, thanks to its advanced IT infrastructure and intellectual property laws, Singapore offers tech companies an attractive base for development products and solutions. With an increasing number of tech companies, Singapore’s government is promoting tech courses to help close the skills gap and continue the country’s trajectory as the technology capital of Asia.
As a small nation, with a population of just over 5 million, Singapore knows it needs to attract tech talent from across the world as well as upskilling its own citizens. The country’s Tech.Pass is targeted towards tech entrepreneurs and leaders allowing them to come to Singapore to work on trailblazing technology further encouraging the growth of its technology sector.
What’s next for technology in Singapore?
With an extraordinary story of growth, innovation and resilience, it is clear that Singapore has its sights set on becoming a Smart Nation.
As Singapore encourages citizens as well as businesses to implement technology to make lives easier, from investing in robots to help plug the foreign worker gap during the pandemic to finding ways to integrate virtual and augmented reality into everyday life, it is inevitable that the country’s digital transformation will see large continued growth.
As it works towards ensuring a fully digital society, economy and government, the prospect of attracting tech talent will only grow as workers and companies look for seamlessly advanced ecosystems to help their business goals and growth. With a booming technology sector, Singapore is leading the way towards becoming a Smart Nation and, undeniably, has the potential to become the true technology hub of Southeast Asia and perhaps even globally.
If you are keen to branch out and build your technology presence in Singapore, then talk to us at Aspectus where we can expertly guide you through your tech communications from our Singapore PR agency to help quickly boost your next stage of growth. Get in touch here.
By Paul Noonan, Lead Copywriter, Energy and Industrials
Clean hydrogen has long been hailed as the green lifeblood of the future economy, helping store and circulate renewable energy across sectors and decarbonise hard-to-abate industries and heavy transport. It is at the heart of the energy transition, holding the promise of decarbonising sectors that cannot be easily electrified and even providing the Holy Grail of dispatchable renewable power in the form of hydrogen gas-fired power stations. It is also central to Europe’s energy security with the EU aiming to replace 27 bcm of imported Russian gas with 20 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen. Yet green hydrogen is currently little more than a pipe dream because Europe’s policymakers have set pie-in-the-sky policy-driven timelines without being honest about the practical steps to achieving them and the enormous energy costs involved.
Few realise that the EU’s target of 10 million tonnes of home-grown hydrogen by 2030 would consume the equivalent of Germany’s entire annual power consumption, which could max out our electric grids. The EU also aims to create hydrogen entirely from new renewable energy capacity to avoid diverting clean power from other applications. This would require a 44% expansion of Europe’s renewable energy capacity at a time of rising renewable supply chain costs and constraints, exacerbating energy bills and worsening our reliance on rare-earth metals from China. In other words, green hydrogen could ironically worsen the very energy cost and energy security crises it was meant to solve.
Time to go nuclear
Nuclear energy could circumvent this entire problem by creating hydrogen electrolytically or even through direct use of heat from nuclear energy thus avoiding excessive new wind or solar construction and electricity use. Crucially, much more renewable capacity would be needed to cover unpredictable swings in supply whereas nuclear provides a stable power source and thus needs less capacity. This means that producing a million metric tonnes of hydrogen would need just seven gigawatts of installed nuclear capacity compared with 22 gigawatts of onshore wind or 52 gigawatts of onshore solar.
Yet nuclear power is currently caught in a political tug-of-war between Germany and France and the fate of nuclear-produced hydrogen hangs in the balance. Nuclear has been excluded from the EU’s proposed list of renewable hydrogen power sources which is being considered by the European Parliament and Council and will form the investors’ guide to hydrogen. And there is now a major battle looming over whether nuclear can even qualify as “low-carbon hydrogen” with an EU methodology due to be agreed in 2024.
There is an urgent need for communications campaigns to outline the benefits of nuclear and the full implications of sole reliance on renewable electricity for hydrogen. As we transition to new energy, informed communications is vital to ensure that these immensely consequential decisions consider the widest array of technological options and are based on transparent, accurate data. Otherwise, green hydrogen risks becoming the cure for our energy woes that is worse than the disease.
By Richard Etchison, Senior Account Manager and Content Specialist
A high-growth B2B tech company that has successfully made a mark in Europe and is ready to enter the US market has a mammoth undertaking ahead. The US market differs from Europe for a variety of reasons, and its media landscape works differently. With so many companies and thought leaders vying for space, reporters are typically even more selective in the sources they choose to include and stories they highlight. There are fewer publications to pitch and a more competitive media landscape.
As such, in the US the focus is more on quality of exposure rather than sheer quantity. A comprehensive integrated communications and PR program is a key component of introducing a brand to the US and laying the groundwork for a successful expansion. Here are some best practices and fundamentals we have gleaned from helping B2B tech clients navigate the challenging nuances of the US media market to make the big move across the pond.
Get your message house in order
A big move like an expansion into a foreign country is a good time to revisit your existing messaging framework and make some refinements to reflect the new communications objectives as well as the new geography. The company needs to know who and what it wants to be in the US, and how it is different from the competition.
It’s wise to adapt your current PR messaging house document to the US market, since the US media narratives will look decidedly different. If a company does not yet have a master messaging house, a move to the US is a good excuse to produce one. A messaging house is a master comms bible of sorts in which a company codifies how it communicates with its target audiences. It’s a great starting point for your in-house PR team or B2B PR agency to clearly depict your mission, vision, goals, how you’ll achieve those goals in the US market, differentiating the company in a crowded landscape.
Get PR boots on US ground for local media relations
A European B2B tech firm hoping to make waves in the US needs communication boots on the ground in the states. The PR professionals wearing those boots must be fully plugged into the US mediascape, its customs, its journalists, and trending conversations. A productive partner knows the media landscape inside and out, is meeting with reporters regularly, and can conduct media relations from key geographic areas where the media are.
The company should designate media spokespeople specific for the US market, and they should be dynamic executive leaders based in the US office. One of the first tactics for expanding into the US is to set up some introductory meetings with the media and analysts.
Take an integrated communications approach
For those rising companies that dare take their B2B talents to America, we recommend an integrated communications approach to build engagement with new audiences. We favor a holistic combination of PR, social and web strategy, including foundational SEO work to support differentiating a company in a crowded landscape. Preferably, the B2B has something shiny to attract media attention, since even a well-known UK company’s move into the North American region is not necessarily newsworthy on its own merit. Ideally, the company is also announcing a triple digit multi-million-dollar money raise, a big acquisition, or an iconic new CEO. In either case, the grand entrance should not merely consist of a press release without a fully conceived integrated communications program.
Leverage the American marquee client
Just as important as having an American office address is having a big-name American client success story to tell. While not mandatory to move into the US, the ability to trumpet a major US client is an excellent way to announce your arrival. While a client success narrative may not be enough to win media coverage on its own, naming a known brand client in the announcement will confer more credibility.
Additionally, featuring the client case study in communications and marketing content like the US web page, blog posts, LinkedIn, other social media, and awards will build SEO, attract more eyeballs, and drive leads. If a company is moving into the US market on the back of a new, big-name US client or partner, hitching your cart to their brand name is a great way to announce expansion.
Take the podium and hoist the trophy in the US
Other prongs of a comprehensive integrated communications program are conference speaking and industry awards, particularly important for B2B tech firms to win that implicit third party endorsement and insert your brand voice into industry discussions. The company should enter that dazzling US client case study in US-specific industry award programs.
It should also dip its toes into executive awards, workplace culture, and revenue growth awards to raise the visibility of its brand, attract talent, and win credibility for its product/service, thus elevating it into the higher consideration set for B2B buyers. Executive speaking engagements at relevant sector conferences can begin building thought leadership authority and introduce the executive’s and the company’s brand to American peers.
The differences between the US and European markets go well beyond English spelling divergences between digitization and digitisation. Before making the crossing, a European company must know its sector’s ecosystem and must know the US media landscape within that sector; and it must know how it can best communicate its differentiation and value proposition. But if your B2B tech can make solid expansion announcements as part of a comprehensive integrated communications program shepherded by an agency with US presence, which helps build a steady drumbeat of earned media, content, and engagement, then it can crack the US market.
If your company in considering a move into the US market, give us a shout to explore the possibilities.
Madalena Thirsk, Associate Account Executive, Capital Markets
For centuries, since the 24th century B.C. to be exact, people have relied on the Chinese lunar calendar to predict their fortune for the year ahead.
Whether or not you believe in such predictions, following a chaotic and volatile year for capital markets, many will be relieved that the year of the rabbit promises the calm after the storm.
The Tiger’s disruptions:
2022, the year of the tiger, anticipated rapid changes and sudden disruptions. From a markets perspective, this prediction of volatility presented itself through inflationary pressures, interest rate hikes and geopolitical tensions. The year saw inflation rise to its highest rate since the early 1980’s, reaching 8.8%.
Need more proof? The return of volatility in the FX markets last year, driven by the Russian-Ukraine conflict, acts as prime example. For the first time in over a decade, almost all major currencies sharply depreciated against the US dollar.
As another case in point, crypto took the beginning of 2022 by storm, rapidly changing the global market as we knew it. And just as the year of the tiger foresaw rapid changes it also predicted sudden disruptions – FTX’s collapse in November 2022 rattled the crypto market, which lost billions at the time, falling below a $1 trillion valuation.
The collapse of FTX and the volatility endured by the FX market are representative of 2022’s disruptive nature. And with such disruption, comes change – this change taking the form of greater regulatory oversight. So instead of looking back at last year with a wince, we should see it as a catalyst for change, a shock to the system.
Hopping into a new year:
Surely everyone is familiar with the cautionary tale of the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race. Steadiness and security being especially important – and guaranteed by greater regulatory oversight. The year of the rabbit is associated with calmness and stability – and we can expect capital markets to follow suit.
2023 capital markets have already seen a surge in steadying regulatory initiatives. Across the FX market, the trend towards a more electronically traded landscape, promises increased oversight.
In the wake of the FTX collapse, there has also been a step-up in crypto regulation. The cogs have already been set in motion by the FCA, SEC, and other regulatory bodies. On the European side of things, MiCA is set to enter into force soon establishing an aligned set of crypto rules across the union.
Evidently, the crypto industry has entered the new year holding regulation’s hand. And many investors, both individual and institutional, feel more assured, protected and confident by the growing regulatory oversight of the crypto sector.
For those attracted to the crypto market’s decentralized nature and separation from formal financial institutions, greater focus on governance and regulatory standards, may not come as great news.
But a lot must be said for the already cooling levels of inflation, expected to fall to 6.6% in 2023, and growing market confidence providing optimism for a slowing monetary tightening, bringing more investors back to assets like digital currencies. The new year has also already seen the price of most cryptos stabilising as the market attempts to rebound from the collapse of FTX. The increase is slow but steady – and already, the global crypto market has recovered, yet again reaching a market valuation of $1 trillion valuation.
All in all, 2023 has been deemed crypto’s “recovery year”, with the year of the rabbit set to bring hope and prosperity.
The year of the rabbit has gifted us a much-needed stillness, presenting a unique opportunity for businesses to amplify their voice and effectively convey their message. To seize this moment, it is crucial for firms to prioritize effective communication and public relations. While the year of the rabbit has provided this window of opportunity, it remains uncertain whether the upcoming year of the dragon in 2024 will do the same. So really, it’s now or never, it is in best interest of firms worldwide to consolidate messaging and build traction through communications and PR.
There’s nowhere more exciting to be for wealth than Singapore right now.
In 2022, the financial centre attracted $448 billion in net AUM inflows, 15.8 per cent higher than previous years. But why has a presence in this country become so essential for fund managers, family offices and intermediaries? Singapore has long been a beneficiary of wealth from the Chinese mainland, and this ramped up significantly following China’s 2020 encroachment on Hong Kong – previously a free-market competitor to Singapore. And with US-China relations particularly strained, Singapore has become the vessel for (U)HNW individuals to manager their wealth. And with a recession that is not expected to hit the Asian markets in the same way as the West, the landscape has been set for Singapore to reap the rewards. It most definitely has taken its opportunity to become a financial superpower.
The country has set up an attractive tax structure and strong fund regime, alongside an internationally respected financial regulator to go alongside its political stability and neutrality that has earned it the nickname of the Switzerland of Asia. For international family offices, the draw has been too big to turn down. China is responsible for one third of the total global net worth growth since 2000, and isn’t slowing down any time soon. And keen not to miss out on the action, western firms are also moving their APAC headquarters to Singapore.
Without a doubt therefore, it’s an exciting time for players in the APAC private wealth space, but how can businesses capitalise on this rapid influx? For multi-family offices, now is the time to highlight your presence in Singapore, whether you’ve been based here for two months or two years, getting in front of your target market with the right message is essential. The Singapore revolution is more than definitely underway, and if Singapore can continue to hold its attractive pull for wealthy families from across China and further afield, it looks like it’s going to be a stronghold for private capital for many years to come.
In the 57 years since Singapore became independent, the country has undergone remarkable development, transforming rapidly from a low to high-income country, and with some of the world’s highest GDP growth today. The city-state’s rapid industrialisation in the 1960s set it on the path to swift development, with manufacturing and the services sector becoming the back-bone of Singapore’s economy. Just 10 years later, it reached full employment and became a fully fledged newly industrialised economy, alongside its Asian peers such as Hong Kong SAR, Republic of Korea and Taiwan. Now, however, the small island-state is in the midst of another up-hill battle – transitioning to renewable energy to meet decarbonisation goals, whilst ensuring energy demand is consistently met.
In 2021, Singapore established a national net-zero plan entitled the Singapore Green Plan 2030. With the power sector accounting for 40% of the country’s emissions, decarbonising the electricity sector is a high priority to meet their climate goals. Fifty years ago, Singapore relied heavily on oil, but over the past half century has transitioned towards natural gas, which releases considerably less CO2. However, with the recent global call for renewables, Singapore has been looking for alternative energy sources that will meet demand while matching global climate goals. So, how is it planning to navigate the energy transition?
Singapore is not naturally endowed when it comes to renewable energy potential. Its small land mass and high population means domestically grown sustainable biomass is not an option, nor is the development of nuclear power. The average wind speed in Singapore is just 2m/s, meaning commercial wind turbines (which normally operate at wind speeds of around 4.5m/s) are also not a viable path forward. A small tidal range and relatively calm sea axes the possibility of tidal power, and with much of Singapore’s sea space already cluttered by ports and shipping lanes, ocean energy technologies also remain out of reach. With no fast-flowing river systems, hydroelectric power is unattainable, nor can the country rely on any geothermal energy sources.
Singapore’s hidden talents
But hope is not lost, due to Singapore’s technological prowess and ability to quickly adapt to an evolving global energy landscape. Moreover, with Singapore’s high average annual solar irradiation, solar power is a strong potential option for renewable energy. And while this also won’t be an easy feat, with Singapore’s aforementioned small land pass posing a problem when it comes to large scale deployment of solar panels (not to mention frequent cloudy conditions and urban shading) the city state is currently in the process of researching and trialling options for solar PV systems in order to maximise the potential for solar energy, with the lofty goal of deploying at least 2 gigawatt-peak of solar energy by 2030, the equivalent of 350,000 households for a year.
And, while options such as nuclear currently remain beyond reach, the innovate Singaporeans continue to research ways to harness the technology, alongside exploring a plethora of different options, ranging from regional power grids and low-carbon hydrogen to carbon capture, utilisation and storage.
The future of Singapore’s journey
What is certain is that the future of Singapore’s energy transition is going to be one to watch, with serious potential for investment and development of renewable energy in the country. If you are keen to branch out and build your renewable presence in Singapore, then talk to us at Aspectus where we can expertly guide you through your energy communications from our Singapore PR agency to help quickly boost your next stage of growth. Get in touch here.
The current government turns from its record, and the markets take a dramtic turn for the worse
The old cliché is that a week is a long time in politics. Just a week ago, Liz Truss’s new Government presented its ‘Growth Plan 2022’. Despite being dubbed a ‘mini-budget’, there was nothing mini about it: this very big fiscal giveaway contained £45bn worth of tax cuts – the biggest such package in about 50 years.
Business groups initially welcomed the cuts to Corporation Tax and National Insurance, which had been promised throughout Liz Truss’s leadership campaign. But it was the announcement of additional tax cuts, like the (quickly reversed) abolition of the 45p top rate of tax, that really surprised the markets, and upset MPs and voters.
criticised the package in an extraordinary warning to a G7 country.
All of these tax cuts appear to be funded through additional borrowing. Without the normal oversight provided by the Office of Budget Responsibility, there is little clarity into the long-term impacts on government finances. Sound money or fiscal responsibility is at the core of the Conservative brand, but suddenly Liz Truss’s new government appeared to be acting recklessly with the country’s finances.
The pound’s value tumbled, and within days a run on government bonds became a fire sale that nearly toppled a number of pension funds, the Bank of England has had to buy up unlimited amounts of government debt, and banks pulled hundreds of mortgages from the market in anticipation of soaring interest rates, as analysts warned of precipitous falls in housing prices.
“Cutting taxes first, and pushing through supply-side reforms to areas like the planning system, business regulations, immigration and digital infrastructure later – will create growth, and get the UK on course for a new 2.5% annual growth target”
Kwasi Kwarteng Chancellor
A stark change of direction
While the pound appears to have rallied since the Bank of England’s intervention, this does not bode at all well for a government that is less than a month old. But since the Brexit referendum in 2016, UK politics has become increasingly unstable: the UK has now had four Prime Ministers in a little over six years.
The new Truss government is determined to distance itself from its predecessors, with very little policy continuity between them. Both of Boris Johnson’s main post-Brexit agendas have been shelved: ‘Levelling up’ – the mission to use infrastructure investment and devolution to spread prosperity more equitably around the country – has been more or less forgotten (though it lives on as a slogan). And the future of the green agenda is now in doubt after the appointment of several climate sceptics to the Government front bench.
A headlong pursuit of economic growth
What has taken the place of these agendas is a headlong pursuit of economic growth: a review of the Net Zero strategy has been ordered by the new climate-sceptic Business Secretary. And growth is no longer a vehicle for levelling up: the new Chancellor has said plainly that his sole priority is growing the economy, not worrying about how the gains are shared. Now the Government defines itself in contrast to its predecessors, reversing most of the fiscal policy of the last government, and criticising the last decade as a ’vicious cycle of stagnation’.
The Chancellor believes that his approach – of cutting taxes first, and pushing through supply-side reforms to areas like the planning system, business regulations, childcare, immigration and digital infrastructure later – will create growth, and get the UK on course for a new 2.5% annual growth target. But observers inside and outside the Conservative party are sceptical.
Financial markets are not the only ones to take fright at the Government’s fiscal package
Conservative MPs really don’t like it either. They mainly backed Liz Truss’s leadership rival, Rishi Sunak, who accurately predicted the response of the markets to Truss’s tax-cutting pledges. Now there are all kinds of nuclear options under discussion amongst Tory MPs: there are reports that letters calling for a no-confidence vote in Liz Truss have already started to go in, with other MPs reportedly in secret talks with Labour about how to defeat the Government’s must-pass Finance Bill. Losing such a vote would be the death knell for the Government, and it could lead to a General Election. Readers should take all of this with a pinch of salt, however – despite the extraordinary anger on Conservative benches, MPs are unlikely to vote for their imminent unemployment, given the likely outcome of such an election.
Ultimately the most critical constituency for the Government – voters – seems to have moved decisively against the Government too. Polling in the days since the mini-budget has shown the Conservatives losing their usual lead on economic policy – normally their strong suit – along with nearly every other issue, and losing ground to Labour in voting intention. Labour has now built up a solid lead from every polling company, which if repeated at a General Election, would likely produce a majority Labour Government. With two years to the next election, at most, the Government has limited time to prove that its radical free-market policies can work.