Routes Asia 2014

Communications company Enzo Global has to divert the media’s attention from unexpected news of Malaysia Airlines’ missing  light and keep them focused on the conference, writes S Puvaneswary

Routes Asia 2014, owned by UBM Information from the UK, was held for the first time in Kuching, Sarawak in March. It was an important event for co-hosts Ministry of Tourism Sarawak and Malaysia Airports Holdings, which both wanted to leverage on the presence of delegates from the aviation industry to introduce Sarawak and attract more foreign airlines to fly to the destination.

Thus, Enzo Global, a strategic communications company, was engaged about 10 weeks prior to the start of Routes Asia 2014, to drum up media publicity and create more awareness of the attractions of Sarawak and its state capital, Kuching. It was also tasked to generate news and business articles of interest to those in the aviation industry.

Justin Santiago, director of Enzo Global, recalled: “We developed a communications strategy leading up to this annual conference. This included writing the website content on Sarawak for conference delegates, and thought leadership articles to promote Sarawak. Many of the articles were released in stages prior to the event.

“The articles we wrote were first vetted by the Ministry of Tourism, which in turn forwarded them to the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Communications Sarawak before disseminating them to the local and foreign media.

“One of the challenges we faced was that we had no contact person within the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Communications to inform us of the dates the releases were sent out. On one or two occasions, we noticed the releases were only picked up by the foreign media, so we had to sent them out ourselves to Bernama, the Malaysian national news agency. Thankfully, the rest of the local media picked up the articles.”

Santiago added that an important lesson learnt from this undertaking is that if there has to be an intermediary between the company and the press, in this case, the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Communications, there also has to be a specific contact person for the company to liaise with for better workflow and maximum media reach.

Then, adding to the challenges, unfortunately, was the reported disappearance of Malaysia Airlines’ Beijing-bound flight MH370 just a day prior to the start of the event.

Santiago said: “We needed the media to stay focused on the conference and the key messages given by the Minister of Tourism, Abdul Rahman Zohari Openg, at the press meeting. Therefore, we had to brief the media in advance, to keep questions related to the event.

We also released our remaining stock of thought leadership articles during the event so that the attention on Sarawak would not be drowned out by news on the disappearance of flight MH370.”

Additionally, Enzo Global helped the media write summaries on conference sessions, especially those related to the destination. It also penned articles highlighting places of interest in Sarawak, then disseminated the articles to the foreign media representatives who were interested in writing features on the destination.

Owing largely to Enzo Global’s efforts, there was a lot of positive media coverage on Routes 2014 as well as on Sarawak from both the local and international media. According to Santiago, Routes Asia 2014 managed to garner 108 clippings in print, online and television coverage.

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