Asiatic Public Relations Network (Pvt.) Ltd. Karachi – Lahore – Islamabad

Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category


Tuesday, January 7, 2020

An old saying in English is that ‘the first impression is the last impression.’ The meaning of this is quite clear. If someone meets you for the first time, whatever impression he or she forms of you in his / her mind, will remain what he or she thinks about you for a long long time.

Hence it is vitally important that we, especially as we are in the PR business, make a very positive first impression. This applies to everyone who interacts with outside people – whether you are in the client service department or the media department or graphics or even general duty for that matter.

Anyone’s first impression of you will be based on 3 main criteria – what you look like or your overall appearance, what you say and your body language.

Appearance refers to your dressing that should be neat and clean. Not necessarily expensive, but well coordinated, well-pressed and refined. And remember it is always better to be a little over-dressed than under-dressed! Hence wearing a tie by gents is highly advisable.

Appearance also refers to your hairstyle and yes, even your shoes! Research has shown that people really get put off, even if subconsciously by people with dirty, unpolished shoes! Then the second way people judge you is by what you say, or what you don’t say! In our business it is important to be a good conversationalist, without becoming a talking machine that bores everyone to death! So your talk must be sensible, with always some humour in it and with regard to people’s sensitivities. For example avoid discussion on politics or religion! The third and sometimes the most critical way people judge you by is your body language, also unknown as non-verbal communication. A person who slouches will automatically be assumed to be a lazy person. A person who avoids eye contact while talking is assumed to be trying to hide something or not telling the truth. So we need to consciously practice a positive body language style, that gives a clear message to the person you are interacting with – that you are confident, active, trustworthy.

Good luck with practicing all of the above to make your next first impression a great one!

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Sunday, January 5, 2020

Psychologists estimate that between 60 percent and 80 percent of all of our communication with other people is non-verbal. That’s a huge percentage. For us in the public relations business especially, it is vital that we acquire at least some basic skills in understanding people’s body language. Of course we can immediately recognize when a person is happy or angry, even if the person has not said a word. A big, pleasant smile denotes happiness, whereas a frown or glaring eyes clearly convey anger.

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APR RETREAT 2018 – A treat for every Asiatic!

Friday, December 21, 2018

The annual APR RETREAT is now a well-established company tradition, whereby staff of all 3 APR offices (Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad) get together at an offsite location towards the end of each calendar year, for 3 days of learning, sharing experiences and fun! The programme includes teambuilding activities, business sessions and competitions. Annual awards are also announced for various categories. The RETREAT gives Asiatics the eagerly looked forwarded to opportunity to unwind with their peers at a serene location. This year, instead of a location in Northern Pakistan like the previous 3 years, the chosen venue was a resort in a rural setting outside Karachi. And like in all RETREATS, one day was devoted to an edutainment visit to a nearby historical site (Makli Necropolis) and a nature site (Kheenjhar Lake).


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A relevant theme is chosen for each RETREAT, with the theme for this year’s RETREAT being “Learn, Unlearn and Relearn”, to emphasize the need to be able to respond effectively to the rapidly evolving and fast-paced professional world we are all a part of. Sometimes, by taking a step back and re-evaluating the measures one is currently using, compared to how one could adopt better practices, can significantly impact overall performance. This is applicable both individually and collectively in an organization. APR priorities this, and is keen to ensure that all Asiatics understand that adhering to this dynamic style of working is essential for professional development.

The RETREAT was a great success, meticulously planned and organized as it was by Taskforce A, our internal event management team and enthusiastically participated in by all our people,

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Quality of Press Release Needs to Evolve

Monday, November 25, 2019

Pakistan PR Influencers’ Chat (@PakistanPR) which is a Twitter based forum to facilitate conversations amongst public relations professionals in Pakistan, had its second online conversation under the hashtag #PakistanPRchat. The PR exclusive interaction which was hosted by Khurram Zia Khan, Senior Manager Media, discussed the  important tool of press release in PR, and how it is likely to evolve in future.

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Monday, February 24, 2020

With the New Year up and running, we are certain it has compelled you to put your thinking cap on, pondering what lies ahead in the world of Public Relations and Communications in 2020. There are new platforms, new technologies and new influencers springing up all the time in this fast-paced environment of PR in Pakistan and it is best we familiarize ourselves with them in order to stay ahead of the game. Here are the top five trends in PR and Communications to look out for in 2020: 

 1. The lines between PR and marketing will dissolve.


In the past, marketing teams in Pakistan have conceptualized campaigns and handed them to PR pros to scrutinize.

While many businesses have often kept marketing and PR very separate, 2020 will see PR play a bigger role in businesses’ marketing strategies. Marketers have realized the importance and role of PR for the success of their campaigns and that will be the way forward in 2020.

2. Data and analytics will become your new best friends.


Since digital has become an integral part of everyday life, interpreting data has become a vital skill for every PR pro. In 2020, data will play a bigger role than ever before. It will be required for guiding PR efforts, measuring their impact and determining the overall value of PR. In 2020, you can expect consumers to be more discerning of any kind of advertising, so PR efforts need to be smarter and even more engaging than before.

3. Increased scrutiny during influencer selections.


In recent years, social influencers in Pakistan have been earning big money from branded and sponsored content, but the big question has been whether they’re worth the investment. In 2020, the game will change for those who have bought “likes” and falsified engagement, or those who are proclaimed “experts” for everything. PR pros will have to get smarter about verifying influencers and tracking ROI, and choosing only the ones who are relevant to their brand.

4. PR will focus more on emotional storytelling for brands.


PR pros will look to indulge more in emotional storytelling to connect with their audiences. A compelling story that stirs the emotions of the target consumers will be the way forward for brands in 2020. People relate to life stories, much more so than content that features or promotes a product. Brands will look to engage PR more to generate brand integrated content that conveys an emotional story, connecting to primal emotional feelings of their audiences.

5. Trust and invest in PR to gain earned media.


Historically, earned media garners the highest level of trust from audiences. In 2020, brands will entrust PR both with investment and authority to create content and stories that will compel third party platforms to publish the content. PR pros in 2020 will focus on capturing earned media attention to tell their brands’ stories.

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PART I: The COVID-19 pandemic and how your company should respond

Thursday, March 26, 2020


It will not be incorrect to say that perhaps not a single person alive on the planet today has previously gone through anything even vaguely similar to what we are experiencing today in the shape of the coronavirus pandemic. The last influenza pandemic in the world, as many of us have learnt in recent days, came about in 1918, commonly referred to as the Spanish Flu, and lasted from January 1918 to December 1920. It infected approximately 500 million people, or about a quarter of the world’s then population, and killed between 17 million to 50 million. Even the World Wars did not bring life to a standstill for all humanity in every country of the world, as COVID-19 has now done.

Crisis Accounting Banking Failure Financial Concept

In short, COVID-19 is a unique global crisis of massive scale, great unpredictability and a breakneck speed of escalation. All this is resulting in uncertainty, fear, disorientation, mistrust and even panic. In a time like this, as communications and PR professionals, APR has drafted a two-part paper to focus on the corporate response required to COVID-19, and especially the role of the communications and public relations function. In part 1, we will go through the response required from the corporate sector as a whole.


The first area of concern for a company has to be the safety and well-being of its employees. The critical element to reducing the spread of the disease is to adopt social distancing, and if a company has not already gone for instituting a Work From Home (WFH) protocol, it must first of all seriously consider doing this now, depending of course on its nature of business.

work from home

At this time corporate leaders, too, need to appreciate that they cannot respond to the COVID-19 crisis as they would to any other. It may draw on some or even several of the ready SOPs for crisis management that a company may have, but by and large the response in this case will have to be largely improvised. A fundamental principle of crisis management theory is that a company must always have a ‘sleeper’ crisis management team in place, which can be activated at very short time should any crisis occur.


In the case of the COVID-19 crisis, and depending on the size of the organization, it may well be necessary to form a network of multi-disciplinary teams, with clear and specific roles and responsibilities for each team, and for every member of each team.

Some essential guidelines for the formation of the teams and their working are:
a. Besides defining the role and responsibilities of each team, clear priorities for the response to the crisis for each team must be set.

b. Teams must be empowered to proactively seek and apply solutions which that will work for addressing their defined priorities, without expecting for all directives to come from above.

c. If a network of teams is required and established, instead of a single team, then it is important that a central coordinator (one person or again a team) is appointed with the single responsibility of ensuring the seamless interworking of the teams like a well-oiled machine.

d. It is important that leaders of the teams are carefully chosen based on their experience and even more so, based on their known ability to be able to bear stress and maintain clear and objective thinking.

e. Teams must record in writing all issues they are managing and all actions which they take, so that at any point in time the company leadership has a record with timelines of all developments.

f. The leadership needs to be involved by regularly evaluating the situation from multiple angles. Different scenarios relating to what can happen next, holistically with the crisis and also in relation to the company and its business must be conjectured and a first draft response to each scenario and each level of escalation must be worked out and reviewed regularly.

g. Organizations may also require engaging external specialists for expert advice and support to the teams. Such specialists, if engaged, should be charged with going beyond just counselling, to devising solutions for the crisis team (s) and then supervising the execution of these solutions. For example if a company has a large labour force which works in close physical proximity and one or more of the workers show symptoms of being infected, then it is very likely that many more may also be infected, even if the others are not yet showing any symptoms. In such a situation the company may need to immediately engage an epidemiologist.






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PART II: The COVID-19 pandemic and how your company should respond

Saturday, March 28, 2020


Continuing where we left off in Part I of this series, this write-up will now comment on the critical role played by an organization’s communications function.

In a crisis the company cannot under any circumstances go silent. It has been previously said that the pandemic has resulted in great uncertainty, fear, disorientation, mistrust and even panic. Most people are greatly emotionally disturbed, and minds are overwhelmed with thoughts of what the future will be.

A solid public relations and communications function can make or break a company’s reputation in this highly volatile scenario. Even if a company has a well-staffed internal communications department, any crisis, and especially a crisis of colossal proportion, requires bringing on board a highly experienced and qualified agency with proven expertise in various areas like strategic writing, media engagement, digital media outreach, crisis scenarios planning and still others.

PR and Communications

The essential steps to be undertaken immediately by the communications function are as given below.


internal communications

a. Select the communication channels and establish protocols for regular communication with all employees. The channels can include an existing intranet which is already available, and for the leadership group and/or for the crisis teams’ leaders, a WhatsApp group may work best, restricting the flow of communication on specific subjects to just those who need to know.
Have a back-up channel of communication also in case the primary one becomes unavailable at any time.

b. Establish 2-way communication, allowing employees to reach in to the management as well with their concerns and questions, and even more importantly to report immediately if either they themselves or any member of their family they live with comes down with the virus.

c. Prepare and post a FAQ document on the selected channel for internal communications with the employees. The content of this document can be first generated by the crisis team or teams and then vetted by the senior management.

d. In times of crisis, all stakeholders, including the employees, want to hear from the Top Gun – the company CEO / MD / President. So at least the very first message to all employees needs to go out from the CEO, with daily messages or posts then going out from the appointed COVID-19 Response spokesperson.

e. Essentially the employees particularly want to know what steps the company has taken to protect its employees. For example, what are the measures that have been put in place for those employees who cannot work from home, and have to come to the place of work as required by their job function, as in the case of production floor workers?

f. Each company needs to decide what the frequency of internal communication should be – daily, or on alternate days, or 2-3 times per week on pre-fixed days, or even just once a week. It is to be remembered that this crisis by all indications is going to be a long-drawn on and there should not be communication fatigue either with excessive communication.

g. It is important that the content of every single communication is:

i. Facts based, totally avoiding gossip, conjecture and hearsay.

ii. Transparent, conveying what the management knows, and not smart-guessing about what it does not know.

iii. Empathetic, as your employees are deeply worried about their own survival and their future. They want reassurance that if they fall victim to the infection they will be cared for, and in the worst case if they expire from the infection, the company will support their family to some extent.

iv. Thoughtful, giving updates about what all is being done by the company, and avoiding an overconfident or unnecessarily upbeat tone as if the crisis is not a big issue at all.

v. A source of guidance and mentoring. It should be motivating and inspiring, encouraging employees to remain positive and find the inner strength to adapt to the changed situation.

vi. The communication or posts may include periodic expert advice, reminders to the employees to ensure they are taking all actions required to protect themselves, their families and also society at large, urging them not to panic or spread rumours, and on a broader note, giving suggestions how to avoid boredom and mental fatigue under lockdown conditions.


external communication

For communicating with external audiences / stakeholders, many of the recommendations stated for internal communications will apply.

The primary purpose of external communication is to share with external stakeholders what the company’s response is to the crisis; what policies and protocols it has put in place to protect its employees, to ensure business operations continuity (even if at reduced scale), to support its suppliers and other business partners, and not least, to contribute meaningfully to the national effort to mitigate the fallout of the crisis, especially for the less-privileged in society. This broader messaging targeting all stakeholders can be communicated via the company’s website and its social media platforms. Additionally it can be disseminated via the mass media.


Crisis communication

While the COVID-19 crisis is impacting all indiscriminately one way or another, there is every likelihood that a company may suddenly face a crisis of its own. For example an outbreak of the infection amongst employees that quickly spreads, or a random accident that threatens life or property and so on.

Even as the company’s crisis team hastens to handle this internal crisis, the news of it can quite easily leak out to the media and the social media, and spread rapidly across the public at large. Obviously this will pose a great threat to the company’s operations and its reputation, and may even instigate a demand for information and explanation from official sources.

It is therefore highly recommended that if a company has a retainer PR agency on board, it must immediately take the agency into the loop, as the greatest support the agency can give in these times of other reduced PR activity is for crisis management. As in any crisis, the speed of response will be essential to minimize the negative fallout.


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Preparing for the new normal

Thursday, June 4, 2020


The New Normal

A friend in New Jersey held his fortieth birthday party this week. Forty friends were invited and all forty attended. Everyone sang out happy birthday for 40 seconds by the clock. Social distancing was strictly maintained, with thousands of kilometers separating the attendees, located all over the world from Canada to Australia, UK to Pakistan, Sweden to Singapore, and one friend even joining in from South Africa! You guessed it; the birthday party was on Zoom! The birthday ‘boy’ got lots of presents, ordered well in advance by the senders and delivered to him by Amazon.

It was my first e-birthday event and what a joy it was! School and college and later life friends I had not been in touch with for years were there to chat with, and no one could stop talking. Towards the end it was discussed whose birthday is coming up next and it was solemnly resolved that another e-birthday would have to be organized.

The times of COVID-19 have catapulted us into using technology like never before. Even older people, who had only recently got the basic hang of Google search, are today already reasonably adept at online grocery shopping, Zoom meetings, online Master Classes and WhatsApp group calls; all in a matter of a few weeks of lockdown and home isolation. The question is, once this pandemic is over, will this torrid affair with technology last, or will most of us revert back to the old ways?

I would venture to say that on the balance, the increased use of technology by most everybody from housewives to corporate CEOs is here to stay. After all, technology is addictive and it does make things a lot easier. From a corporate perspective, the primary focus of this writing, the use of technology has always been there in large global companies in practically all areas, from communications and public relations to marketing and sales, from finance to HR and administration and so on. What the pandemic has done is to propagate the use of technology down to medium and small businesses as well, as all businesses have had to quickly adapt to working from home. Technology usage in the times of the coronavirus has gone ….. viral! But even in the large organizations technology usage has increased even more, and second, new platforms have also been adopted, like Zoom for communication.

The important thing now is to graduate from using technology because one has been forced to by circumstances, to embedding technology into all business operations in a customized way which actually adds greater value in terms of higher efficiencies, higher production, faster decision-making, greater and much quicker access to data and information, and not least, which results in both greater cost savings and higher job satisfaction for all employees. This process of course requires first of all an in-depth audit of all business operations, to determine the needs and define the areas that can particularly benefit from embedding technology. Then it is a matter of developing customized solutions.

For sure the world post-pandemic will not be the same as before. It is up to us how best we are able to adjust and adapt to new realities. The learning is clearly that those who move earlier, faster, and more decisively will do best.

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