Learn about Public Relations and Communication
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 “Jack of All Trades: Knowing More Than One Skill Set In Marketing.” In it, Erwin Doña III, the Director of Marketing Communications at Novotel Manila Araneta City, is interviewed about how the organization executes its strategy in enhancing their workforce.
Building Personal Relationships in Business
One could say that all marketing professionals are a jack of all trades, master of none―as much as they want to specialize in a certain aspect of their role, they must also learn to have a general view of all their responsibilities. But whether marketing professionals have only one or multiple skills, they nonetheless need to be creative. Effective and creative marketing is how customers gravitate towards products and services after all. Erwin Doña III, Director of Marketing Communications at Novotel Manila Araneta City, knows a thing or two about this.
With almost 20 years of experience in the hotel and hospitality industry, Doña has come to believe that learning and mastering many skills involves working with other people―in his case, as someone in the public relations field, it’s initially building relationships with the media. He has remained firm with the idea that as a marketing manager, it’s important to build personal relationships with journalists and editors instead of just business relationships. And this is exactly what he’s done in his role in Novotel.
Doña found that one way to build personal relationships with journalists is by doing PR profiling, which is similar to guest profiling. Doña and his team gather information about their contacts in the media―such as their food preferences and special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries―and get in touch with them on a personal level, as a way of embodying the warm culture of the hospitality industry.
“A decade ago, I thought of making these personal relationships as my personal investment. I know I’m always going to do marketing no matter what company I transfer to. That’s why I always bring my network and circle with me wherever I go. That’s how important PR profiling is to me,” Doña said.
He added that building a personal relationship with journalists is also one way for him to understand how they work and how Novotel should craft their campaigns. When it came to their stories, Doña made sure that he and his team have something that journalists can write about. There are the usual promos and press releases for special occasions but they made sure that Novotel presented journalists with content during the in-between periods.
“You have to really be creative because you’ll run out of stories, especially in marketing. You have your template for all the special occasions—New Year, Valentine’s Day, back to-school period, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, the rainy season, Oktoberfest, Halloween, then Christmas. You could have the template memorized but your problem lies in the in between moments where you don’t usually have stories to tell,” Doña said.
He recalled that there was a time Novotel invited a famous Filipino food blogger who goes by Masarap Ba (Is it delicious?) to collaborate with them on a special buffet project called “Masarap Nga! (It is delicious!) Meet and Eat!” Essentially, the blogger challenged Novotel chefs to create dishes featuring products from 17 small medium entrepreneurs or startup companies for the hotel’s Food Exchange spread. Doña proudly recalled that the initiative generated a lot of buzz not only online—thanks to Masarap Ba’s influence since she alone has around 280,000 followers—but within the hospitality industry as well.
During the in-between periods, Novotel’s marketing team also developed activities that bank on nostalgia, since Araneta City has a rich history. Sometimes they would post trivia about the different properties in Araneta such as the Araneta Coliseum and some of the old restaurants in the area. He recalled that taking this approach helps Novotel get good engagement since a lot of people like reminiscing about the place, especially the baby boomers who grew up in Araneta and saw the area evolve.
For all these content and campaigns, Doña said he put himself in the shoes of journalists, thinking of ways of how he could help writers and editors promote an offering that could excite the market. Copywriting has also become one of the few skills that Doña picked up in his career and wishes all marketing professionals to follow.
In fact, he instilled the “jack of all trades” trope onto his team. Every three months, Novotel’s marketing department, including members with and without writing experience, would attend creative writing classes so that they can understand how to better craft their campaigns and projects. Doña also encouraged his marketing team to learn the basics of photography and graphic design. By doing so, he believed it could help improve their skill set, as well as allow them to fill in for any of their absent coworkers in case they need to immediately submit certain deliverables.
“You don’t limit yourself to a certain field. It’s not necessary that you have to be highly skilled in graphic design for example. You should at least know the basics and technicalities so that when one of your team members is absent and you have to submit some deliverables, you can just edit the template and be done with it,” Doña said.
This desire to remain constantly creative comes from his background of gaining a bachelor’s degree in Arts Management and previous experience working as a creative officer and brand marketing and PR professional in other hotels and resorts. In fact, his creativity is what helped the brands he has worked for earn many distinguished awards.
When Doña worked at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar as its Brand Marketing Director, it was under his leadership when the museum and heritage resort received numerous citations such as naming the property as part of the Condé Nast Johansens Collection and the prestigious Historic Hotels Worldwide. Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar also received the Marketing Campaign of the Year award at the 2018 Virtus Awards, perhaps one of the biggest award-giving bodies for hotels in the Philippines, for its “Vanguard of Filipino Heritage” campaign. In the same year, he became one of the 2018 finalists at the 39th Agora Awards for the Outstanding Achievement in Marketing Management Category.
Doña’s story is evidence that being well-rounded and passionate in your skills certainly pays off, especially in the field of marketing communications. After all, the idea of a ‘limited’ creative is quite ironic. By continuously expanding his horizons, Doña shows that the sky is truly the limit for marketing professionals—all they have to do is take the initiative.
To get more insights from other marketing leaders like Erwin Doña III, please check out the full book, available for purchase here.
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