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Get To Know Haikel Fahim, Telum Media Regional Head For Southeast Asia

keeping the Asian media industry informed about everything and anything that is happening.

Haikel, welcome to Marketing In Asia.  Tell us a little about Telum Media.

At its core, Telum Media is an online contacts database of journalists and media from all over Asia. But in reality, we’re so much more than the 100,000+ media professionals that we cover. We help PR and communications professionals work more efficiently by carefully planning their campaigns and contacting the most relevant journalists.

For journalists, we help reduce the number of irrelevant press releases and help them stay up to date with the moves and news from across the industry. Plus, with new services like Media Requests, we even help them source case studies, interviewees and prizes for their content and writing. Then there’s our Media Jobs service, our exclusive events and, of course, our famous daily newsletters which keep the Asian media industry informed about everything and anything that is happening.

You have a business model which is very interesting; you have created something that is much needed in the media and PR scenes.  Where did the idea originate from?

The media database concept is fairly tried and tested in markets like North America and Europe, but Asia had yet to benefit from the time saving and business efficiencies that the product offered. So Telum was founded to bring all the advantages of a live, 24/7 updated product to a dynamic and growing market. As you can tell, it seems the market was just waiting for us to arrive!

What have your marketing strategies been to date?

We believe in the power of word of mouth – something that may come as a surprise in the era of viral marketing and multi-billion dollar campaigns. Rather than spend thousands on advertising or sponsorship, we prefer to invest in our brand, our service, and our team and build a product that speaks for us. So we’ve taken a very organic approach to our growth, and we’ve been extremely humbled by the support and loyalty shown by both the media and communications industries to date.

You have such a vibrant team across all your offices. How do you keep the crew motivated?

Good question! As with any startup or small business, it comes down to teamwork, transparency, dedication and fun. Like any organisation, there was an element of trial and error, to begin with, but we learned from our mistakes and are now building an amazing team across the region. Our team members are almost all media professionals, with a background in journalism or PR, so they have an inbuilt fascination with the inner workings of the Asian media community by default. That’s the long answer. The short answer is chocolate, team lunches/drinks, and plenty of activities like treasure hunts.

Which one is more important to you; marketing or branding and why?

Not to be that annoying person, but I genuinely believe in the power of word-of-mouth. Technically you may call it marketing, but really there is no greater advocate for your product or service than your customers. You can spend millions on marketing or branding your product, but if people hate it you’re stuck. Customer advocates have been fundamental to our success, and continue to be our primary focus.

In your opinion, is there something missing in the Singapore media scene?

I wouldn’t say that there’s something missing per se. I think in terms of embracing technology and using it to disseminate news and content, Singapore has been doing pretty well, compared to its neighbours. Having said that, I think every journalist in Singapore is screaming for better press freedom – we’re 151st out of 180 countries in the global press freedom index. That’s lower than in Thailand (136th) and Cambodia (143rd).

Personally, I’d like to see more podcasts be put together. In the UK, US and Australia, podcasts have been very powerful for a long time. China seems to be making strides in this area and I’m happy to see that outside these four markets, Singapore is next in line that will grow podcasts into an important media type for marketers and communications professionals to utilise.

How has the Singapore PR scene evolved through the years?

I think the biggest change over the past decade or so is seeing the line blurring between PR and marketing. Agencies are all now offering what’s been popularised as ‘integrated marketing solutions’ which involves branding, marketing, PR, events, etc. In-house teams have also made that shift. With the media also diversifying revenue streams, paid content is on the rise and the PR scene are changing to take advantage of that.

Tools such as Telum Media have helped PR teams be more efficient in their work, as does the availability of tracking, analytics, data, etc. These have allowed PR to be more targeted and at the same time provide management teams with better visibility over ROIs.

How do you see the local PR landscape changing in the coming years?

PR is one of those intriguing disciplines that manages to flex and evolve to always stay relevant. I have lost count of the number of times I have seen “experts” proclaiming that “PR is dead” based on nothing more than a flavour of the month digital tools and the desperate need for eyeballs. PR has been around for decades and is going to be here for decades to come. The tools that it uses and the process (and people) that it employs may evolve, but I doubt there will ever be a time when brands don’t need some form of fundamental public relations support.

What is the best way to get in touch with Telum Media?

You can drop me a line directly at hfahim@telummedia.com or our team is available during business hours at alert@telummedia.com. And of course, if you are in Singapore, our door is always open. Come and say hi!

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Zu Anjalika Kamis Gunnulfsen is a certified Image Branding & Lifestyle Consultant. Born in Singapore and blessed to have lived in a couple of other amazing cities in the world, Anjalika is currently expatriating in Kuala Lumpur. Follow her on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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