Executive Interview
Marina Watt
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   Executive Interviews   
An Interview with
Marina Watt
Brandstorm Communications
Co-founder and Director

Brandstorm Communications is a full-service agency specialised in content, communications, events programming and philanthropic development.

 

Since our founding in 2019, we have been helping corporates, non-profits and philanthropic foundations to establish relevance among their stakeholders and communicate with them authentically.

Our clientele covers a broad spectrum of sectors including education, media, art & culture, CSR, ESG, philanthropy and others.

Publish Date: 
9 October 2022
Hong Kong
Location:

Tell us about your background, and how you came to found your company?

My business partner Brian Yeung and I used to work for a private foundation with an annual giving of over 60 million HKD (approximately 7.8 million USD). Our role was to raise the organisation's profile both at home and abroad. In our in-house role back then, we had worked with many consultancies from Americas, Europe and Asia incl. Hong Kong but we found a missing gap in the market: communications consultancy with an expertise in philanthropy.


This is what inspired us to start our own communications consultancy serving like-minded clients. In 2019, both Brian and I have left our last job to launch our agency. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, we have quickly built a client portfolio covering private foundations, blue-chip companies and financial institutions with a focus on art & culture, philanthropy, corporate social responsibility (CSR), diversity equity & inclusion (DEI), and environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG).

What is most important to you and your organization – mission, vision, or core values? Why?

Authenticity is a core value of our organisation and we help our clients to tell their stories in an authentic way. The PR profession was once seen as the "dark side" versus journalism. Now, PR practitioners and journalists are working in a much more collaborative way. In our agency, we voice out the genuine editorial interest from the media side and help our clients to feed journalists relevant information in an open and honest way. When approaching our content projects, we also prioritise what is the genuine interest of the readers before we formulate the corporate narratives for our clients.

Can you explain briefly how your service(s)/product(s) works?

In our consultancy capacity, we bring an objective, outside-in perspective to help our clients establish relevance among their stakeholders and communicate with them authentically to build positive reputation. We do so by providing solid analysis, ongoing strategic counsel, actionable recommendations, compelling storytelling and effective implementation. We also ride on our extensive network to create synergy among our partners and clients.

How has the industry been changing in recent years?

The market disruption as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic is a big challenge to many. We are no exceptions. Building resilience with our clients has become more important than ever. While many companies and organisations have become more cost-conscious than before, we, as a boutique agency, have become a solution to them.


The pandemic has also led to fundamental changes in how companies communicate with their audiences and engage their stakeholders. The rise of hybrid events which accelerated digital adoption and a heightened expectation of corporate social responsibility (CSR), diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) are some examples.

What makes you different from what’s currently available in the market?

In 2021, Brandstorm has advanced its business model and service offerings. First, Brandstorm leveraged its growing clientele in education, CSR and foundations to debut a new service in philanthropic development, which advises non-profits on fundraising strategies targeting corporate donors or philanthropic organisations. This service offering is still rarely seen in the agency landscape but such service has a growing demand in the market.


Second, our customised and hands-on approach differentiates us from the big market players. Unlike their hierarchical way of operation, we communicate with our clients directly and we bring an objective, outside-in perspective to help them establish relevance among their stakeholders and communicate with them authentically to build reputation.


Last but not least, Brandstorm was able to focus on contracts and projects that lasted longer than six months. This allowed the agency to prioritise most of its attention and resources on a small pool but active and premium clients. The clients had direct access to senior management of the agency in a real-time manner.

What does the future hold for your company?

As we have seen the potential of our rapidly growing public relations business, we are looking into expanding our team. To build a talent pipeline for the company and also to groom young talents for the industry, we already offer summer internship programmes and part-time opportunities for university students. For those interns with a sustained passion for the industry, we hire them as part-time assistants. Looking ahead, we look forward to welcoming a junior staff and also expanding our geographical footprint to other markets such as Singapore.

Contact

Marina Watt

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