Building Connections Beyond Business
An Introduction to Brand Collaboration
The following is an excerpt from The Evangelists: Insights from Leaders of the Nation’s Most Beloved Brands. Written by Monica Padillo, this chapter is titled “Building Connections Beyond Business.” In it, C Alarcon, PR and Partnership Lead at Lalamove Philippines, is interviewed about how the organization executes its strategy in creating partnerships.
Benefit from strategic partnerships and collaborations
Almost all marketing and communications professionals would agree that the industry runs on partnerships and connections. Most businesses were able to attain corporate success and even contribute to the alleviation of many societal problems just by collaborating with influencers, other businesses, and even governments. This is why JC Alarcon, PR and Partnership Lead at Lalamove Philippines, greatly believes in the power of partnerships.
“We create beneficial relationships, so that it’s not just about trying to sell the company; Lalamove will sell itself because it’s such a good product or service,” Alarcon said.
One of the ways that Lalamove was able to build connections was through social media. For Alarcon, social media acted as a “partnership currency” in a way that it helped Lalamove team up with other businesses who had just as many, or maybe even more, followers as they did. By reaching more people through other businesses’ social media pages, Lalamove was able to boost its brand identity and awareness as well.
“When you mount campaigns on Facebook, for example, a lot of people will see and share them. Social media, for tech companies, is the holy grail or the holy channel to spread our message,” he said.
For example, Lalamove once partnered with an online community of food lovers called Let’s Eat Pare to promote its “pabili” (direction to purchase) service. Members of the community could avail a PHP150 discount when ordering from any of Let’s Eat Pare’s official vendors and restaurants with Lalamove. The initiative became both a PR and partnership stint for the delivery service provider.
Aside from social media, Lalamove also made use of PR channels to get their message across a wider audience. Alarcon cited an instance where Lalamove wanted to expand its reach in Cebu by partnering with Cebu Daily News (CDN). But it was no easy feat; CDN doesn’t simply feature brands and stories through financial arrangements. The news outlet’s reach was massive in Cebu, and Alarcon and his team decided that they needed to form the partnership right.
Alarcon introduced Lalamove to CDN by showing the journalists how to use the app. They also gave the journalists free credits that they can use on the app themselves. By forming an organic and authentic relationship, they were able to tap CDN as a media partner in Cebu for their PR campaigns.
They also have particular verticals for their partnerships. For instance, Lalamove was also working with Phoenix Petroleum on the automotive front. This partnership was especially significant to the Lalamove drivers when it comes to getting benefits from gas stations.
Building partnerships was also part of Lalamove’s brand building process and Alarcon said this fell in line with the company’s corporate social responsibility or CSR initiatives. The company’s CSR activities essentially focused on creating beneficials relationships with other companies and communities as well.
In fact, Alarcon is particularly proud of Lalamove’s partnership with Gawad Kalinga, a foundation that aimed to alleviate poverty and promote nation building in the Philippines, for their third anniversary as a company in 2019. From a whole month, every Lalamove booking was automatically credited as a donation towards the Hatid Kusina, Hatid Kalinga (Deliver Food, Deliver Care) project, which created a community kitchen for children living in Talipapa, Quezon City.
When asked why Lalamove chose to support such a cause, Alarcon said the company felt it needed to contribute in the alleviation of malnutrition in many rural parts of the Philippines. As a company that catered to daily human problems, Lalamove wanted to support a humanitarian cause as well. Alarcon was proud for being able to spearhead such a campaign because they were able to help feed around 2,500 children every day for the first month of the campaign. The kitchen is now permanently operational as funded by Gawad Kalinga, continuously feeding the same 2,500 children. Lalamove also saw a spike in bookings at the time of the campaign.
“It’s not just a normal thing where you ask people to book three vans, for example, and we’ll give them a PHP100 voucher. Most users won’t even do that,” he said. “I’m happy with this campaign because our customers really took part in it and made it happen.”
Even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Lalamove didn’t fall short with its partnerships. The company created a new service called Lalajeep in close coordination with the office of Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte to support jeepney drivers who were displaced due to quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila.
He recalled one particular jeepney driver, Tatay Lauro, being one of the most interviewed Lalajeep drivers because of his courage and ambition to earn for his family. Despite not being too adept with technology prior to joining Lalamove, Tatay Lauro persevered and mastered the use of the Lalamove app and other helpful tools.
Through the Lalajeep initiative, Mang Lauro was able to earn around PHP12,000 to PHP15,000 every week, which compensated for what he lost when he stopped picking up passengers at the start of the pandemic. According to Alarcon, the Lalajeep service addressed various aspects that Lalamove has always wanted to achieve: empowering partner drivers, day-to-day users, and business clients.
Of course, these successes were sometimes overthrown by mishaps that were often either out of their control or difficult to resolve. Alarcon recalled an instance in 2019 when three Lalamove partner drivers were involved in accidents on the road. As a way of adding another layer of security for their partner riders and promoting road safety as well,
Lalamove teamed up with Chubb Insurance and automotive journalist James Deakin to implement a safety campaign and communicate their message to more people.
From the different partnerships to the CSR initiatives, Alarcon said he’s motivated to conceptualize and execute these efforts because of his belief in the brand and its mission to “deliver things that matter.” He believed this kind of dedication was what will help other marketing and communication professionals with their own campaigns.
“When you love the brand, you’ll really try to go the extra mile and create the best story. In Lalamove, we don’t just wait for partnerships to form; we take at least three steps forward before things happen,” he said.
“That’s why in my perspective, PR practitioners must be proactive in foreseeing opportunities, and anticipating issues or crises that they can mend and curb. PR campaigns are not only instrumental in building brand credibility, but making your brand a paragon.”
To get more insights from other marketing leaders like JC Alarcon, please check out the full book, available for purchase here.
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