Bask Spotlights

Bask Spotlights: Justin Fernando, Photographer & Videographer

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Last September, we

collaborated with Singaporean photographer and videographer Justin Fernando to produce Dan & Max: How NOT to Open a DurianThis month, we are going behind the lenses to chat with the man himself. 

1. Tell us more about yourself

I've been working in this industry for the past nine years and spent most of my career working in production houses. Last year, I've decided to venture solo and it's been a pleasure partnering with Bask Communications to produce photography and videography for clients like Biconi, YOLO Group, Forest Adventure and Red Bull Singapore. 

I'm one of those lucky ones who get to do what I love for a living. Being able to get behind the lens, capture moments and watch everything comes to life putting the footage, graphics and music together during post-production has always been one of the most exciting things. 

Check out more of Justin's work on Instagram (@juggalofernando).

2. In recent years, there has been an increase in demand for video content for social media marketing. Can you please share with us three pointers for brand owners to keep in mind when developing video content. 

Yes, there has been an influx in the need for video content for social media. It has become the fastest way to reach audiences and get the message across in the most timely fashion. Although the lifespan of these videos has been drastically cut short, maybe a week tops, before it becomes ancient news. In order to stay ahead, businesses tend to want numerous short clips to be dished out weekly rather than a single 2-3 min video.

On a personal level, the art of cinematography has been compromised in this social media world. Now, when I shoot content, I have to switch my mindset from, "does this look good?" to "does this look good when its cropped to 1:1 for social". There are so many details lost in the visuals. Thus, finding that balance is always a challenge for me.

Brand owners looking to develop video content, here are some of my tips:

  • As always, less is more. Trying to squeeze everything into a 1:1 frame and still keeping it within 30s -45s tend to lead to information overload. Keep it clean and simple. Remember that your audience wants to be engaged within the first few seconds before skipping onto the next thing on their feed.
     
  • You cannot please everyone on the internet. There is no one formula that makes people on social media happy. So as much as you and your team may think it is a great marketing video, be prepared for some weird comments arising online. 
     
  • Following trends online can be tempting. Viral videos are great but trends online do not last long. Either get on the bandwagon fast or move on to something else. It's not a good thing creating something that by the time it gets approved and gets online, becomes old news.

3. What's the pros and cons of engaging a professional photographer and videographer vs. doing it yourself? 

With videography and photography making becoming so "easy", doing it yourself can look like the best option. However, if you have a little budget, do hire. This gives you the creative freedom to think about what you want rather than having to think of all the technical details AND your brand guidelines in mind.

4. What kind of photography / videography do you best enjoy? 

I love taking people. When I travel, that is how I remember the places, through my lens of the wonderful people I meet. For videography it would have to be documentaries. Telling stories of real people that my audience can resonate with is the most intimate connection you can have with someone watching your work.

5. Any photographers / videographers that you particularly look up to?

Phillip Bloom has always been an inspiration to me. Although Christopher Doyle would be my fav, Phillip Bloom was the godfather of DSLR film making to me. He made cinematic film making attainable for someone like me back then. Joey Lawrence is a photographer that I highly admire as well.

Bask Spotlights: Susannah Jaffer, Founder of ZERRIN

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This month, Bask Spotlights chats with Susannah Jaffer, former magazine editor turned entrepreneur!

1. Hi Susannah! You kickstarted your editorial career in Singapore following your move here from the UK back in 2012. Can you share with us a little bit more about your journey, and what are some of the biggest difference you see in the editorial between Singapore and the UK?

Sure. I’m 27, British and moved to Singapore at 21 to find a job after completing university in the UK. When I came here, I had a teaching job lined up but it fell through because of visa quotas. However, I into a PR internship for 7 months at a local agency. This was followed by being recruited for a job at Expat Living magazine in 2013. There I worked my way up through various roles, from junior editor to fashion and beauty editor, to launching and running a monthly women’s supplement called LIV for the company, to being appointed their creative director. In a nutshell, my career has largely been in media in Singapore until I launched my new company, ZERRIN.

To be honest, I’d say the biggest differences editorially are topical. Trends are often more geared towards a Western audience, which is a lot bigger and more diverse. I’d also say there’s more freedom of speech in the papers back home than there is here, which is more regulated.

2. Having worked in the magazines for over 4 years, what are some of your favourite stories to do?

I love putting together and directing creative shoots, or alternatively conducting or writing interviews with business owners or entrepreneurs. It’s something I really got into when we launched LIV (Expat Living) back in 2015, which featured an inspiring cover story every issue. I had so much fun writing them. I feel so blessed to have connected with many incredible and hard-working individuals over the past few years through those features, a number of which have become personal friends.

3. Any tips from PR and/or brand owners in reaching out to editors for potential story pieces?

Always know and be in tune with the publication’s target audience. Make pitches personal, or as tailored as possible. It’s worth the effort to make a great connection and crucial to make a good first impression.

4. You have recently transitioned into a freelance role with Expat Living, and at the same time launched ZERRIN, a sustainable fashion and beauty online store. Congratulations! Please tell us more about ZERRIN?

Thank you! ZERRIN is Asia’s first e-tailer dedicated to conscious fashion and beauty brands. We source and curate labels from around the world that are environmentally or socially responsible. Our mission with ZERRIN is threefold:

  • To enable women to discover and shop conscious brands conveniently on one platform.
  • To educate women about the impact of the retail industry and what part can we play to make a more positive impact.
  • To empower women to #shopmeaningfully; purchase more mindfully and place a higher value on their clothing.

We’re proud to support and carry a range of labels from around the world including Hong Kong, Bali, Canada and London, as well as home grown labels from Singapore.

5. With a shift in consumer spending, especially in the millennial group, towards businesses focusing on greater good, how do you see businesses creating sustainable programmes to maintain authenticity over publicity to causes that they are trying to benefit?

If you want to incorporate sustainability or social impact causes into your business, my personal take would be to go into it with a true purpose and a real passion behind the cause that you’re supporting. Businesses shouldn’t be jumping on the bandwagon just because it’s seemingly becoming a trend. Be authentic in everything you do, as your customers or clients will soon realise when you’re not being genuine.

6. We celebrated International Women's Day back in March. Are there any female entrepreneurs whom you look up to? 

Emily Weiss, founder of Glossier and Into the Gloss, as well as Yael Aflalo, founder of Reformation, are inspiration from the retail sphere for their drive, smarts and business strategy. I’ve also been so inspired by women in Singapore I’ve met, interviewed or worked with, like Stephanie Crespin, founder of pre-loved designer marketplace Style Tribute. I met her when she first started the company a few years ago and she’s really built an incredible business from the ground up. I think she’s the true definition of a #girlboss!

7. What’s next for you and ZERRIN?

We’ll be focused on brand building and spreading the word about what we do over the next year, in Singapore and in a few key countries internationally. I really want to focus on building our community and changing the way women consume. We’ll also be putting on a lot on local events between now and June. Our next pop-up is happening at the F1 Pit Building on 14-15 April for the Income Eco Run 2018 race pack collection! We’re also hosting an ethical fashion show as part of Fashion Revolution Day, held at The Hive Lavender on 28 April.

Bask Spotlights: Kara Bensley-Austin, Founder of The WYLD Shop

Kara Bensley, The WYLD Shop

Bask Spotlights speaks to our very first client when we started off in late 2016 - Ms Kara Bensley from The WYLD Shop

1.     Hi Kara, please share with us a quick introduction of yourself and The WYLD Shop.

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 Hi my name is Kara Bensley-Austin I am an Aussie expat wife who has been living in Singapore for nearly 8 years. I am a proud Mumma to my son Jack and have two fur babies - a cat Arya and dog Tiggah, who is a beautiful brindle Singapore Special. Both are rescues from Singapore. 

TheWYLDshop represents fashion for the Fun Fierce & Fabulous. We are a company that serves fashionistas in Singapore and beyond who want in-trend, affordable High Street Style. We curate a selection of Aussie brands & mix it with a lil’ local love. Our mission is to create an exciting & positive place to shop where we encourage people to embrace their uniqueness and experiment with their style. 

We believe that YOU are the best source for your own happiness and we want you to Live WYLD live Free with the confidence to dream and be who YOU want to be.

2.     The Wyld Shop was Bask Communication’s Client #1, and we’re super grateful to you for giving us the leg up at the very start of the business. Now, back to the question - what do you usually look for when deciding on PR agencies to work with? 

We are super happy that we were Bask’s first client! We had a ball with you. We look for transparency, integrity and professionalism. All these characteristics should go hand in hand. We need a team who understands our brand and its core values in order for them to easily convey our message consistently and get to the right audience. Additionally, We need a company that is super organised and can help to transform our ideas into a workable reality with great results. 

3.     I hear that The WYLD Shop has been up to really exciting stuff this year. Tell us more.

The WYLD Shop Showroom

Yes we are always doing exciting stuff! Late last year, we launched our new Showroom in Siglap and this year, we kicked off the year with a Pop-Up and Fashion Show at Bar Rouge to celebrate the launch of their new Girls Night Out on Thursday nights. We are always busy with our Trunk Shows where we bring the online shop to our customers. We have also just launched a gorgeous new jewellery brand from the Gold Coast called Minc Collections which features intricate body chains. However, one of the coolest things we are doing right now is working with local brands which we call a lil' local love. We have just launched an extremely comfortable (and I am saying this from experience) bralette collection called Terie which is the sister brand of HerJuju. WYLD is constantly on the hunt for new and exciting opportunities around town so keep updated via our Instagram account @thewyldshop. 

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4.     Do you have some tips to share for small e-commerce businesses who are handling their own PR and marketing?

Yeah sure do! If you have no idea what either is, then it’s best to do some research and reading online first. Alternatively, ask a pro or engage someone in the industry who can give you some guidelines. The next step is to set some PR & Marketing Goals then create a plan with a timeline. Lastly, track your progress. 

5.     What are the top 3 most important advice you have for small online businesses?

  • Research and understand your core target audience, and make sure that your marketing efforts are geared towards this audience. 
  • Make sure your products/images of your services are of high quality. 
  • Ensure that you understand how to read your analytics.

Bask Spotlights: Aisya Hanem, Co-founder of Ariff Communications

Bask Spotlights #1: Aisya Hanem

This month, we're spotlighting on our Malaysian counterpart, Aisya Hanem of Ariff Communications.

1. Please introduce yourself and Ariff Communications.

My name is Aisya Hanem and I am one of the three co-founders of Ariff Communications. Ariff Communications is an independent PR communications consultancy based in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, specialising in technology, consumer lifestyle, travel & hospitality and corporate communications. We provide creative publicity solutions through branding, consumer communications and media relations.

Ariff Communications Team at Xiao Mi Media Launch, 2017.

Ariff Communications Team at Xiao Mi Media Launch, 2017.

Ariff Communications was conceived in the summer less than a year ago, somewhere between the streets of Montmartre and Monet’s garden in Giverny France. I have dedicated close to a decade in PR and marketing agencies, working with clients including Nikon, Maxis, Uniqlo, Temasek, Goldman Sachs, Dilmah Tea, Club Med, Strepsils, Aesop, as well as award-winning campaigns with adidas bodycare. In that moment, however, I really wanted something to call my own.

It has been a really exciting time since we started the agency in June 2017. We got to work with a great mix of clients, including Aesop, Red Bull Malaysia, Xiao Mi and Elevete, just to name a few!

2. Tell us more about how the media landscape is evolving in Malaysia. Are there any emerging communications trends businesses should look out for?

In recent years, there have been many worrying signs in the industry - publication closures, journalists moving out of the industry etc. We also noticed that print media are increasingly focusing their attention on the digital world; a natural transition given the shift in media consumption pattern to digital media today. That said, this transition is something we are all trying to figure out, and just how this affects the PR industry remains to be seen. The upside is that it is so much easier now in the digital world to spread information, in a much faster way, to a much wider audience.

On the flipside, we do feel that credible old-school journalism, expert opinions and authoritative voices are something that is lacking or perhaps drowning in the digital world. Now, everyone can be a citizen journalist. In the past, PRs are in-charge of crafting stories. The conversation has become a delicately balanced two-way street.

Nonetheless, we are big believers that the fundamentals of digital PR remain the same as traditional PR, which is about connecting to other people.

3. As more brands move towards influencer marketing, can you share with us who are some of your favourite Malaysia-based influencers?

This answer may sound generic to most entrepreneurs and PR practitioners in Malaysia but if I have to choose, I would have to choose the people behind Fashion Valet. I find it incredible how most of these ladies who are employees and alumni of Fashion Valet journey to who they are today. For example, Asma Nasa who used to be the head buyer now owns her own apparel label. Veen Dee, the former Head of Marketing is now a widely-known social media influencer. I cannot stress enough how inspiring and ambitious these ladies are and this is just two of them! There is also their truly inspiring girl boss, Vivy Yusof, and their big boss, Fadza Anuar.

Amsa Nasa, Veen Dee, Viyy Yusof

Amsa Nasa, Veen Dee, Viyy Yusof

When it comes to influencer marketing, I try to come from a consumer and audience point of view when recommending the right partners to work with and to follow in the industry.

4. What are some of the top PR tips you have for overseas brands looking to expand into Malaysia?

With all its complexities and dynamics, it is key to truly understand Malaysia. Be authentic, be genuine and know your audience. There are sensitivities and cultural/racial barriers, known or unknown, that one needs to be aware of. What might work in the West, might not work over here. Another thing is that sometimes, messaging can get lost in translation, so it is important to operate with the language skillfully. If you are genuine and if you speak to your target audience authentically, I think Malaysians, like anyone else in the world, will resonate with the brand.

5. Have been in PR for close to a decade, what is the favourite project / account you’ve worked on and why?

Work time at the Aesop x Gallery Weekend Kuala Lumpur event!

Work time at the Aesop x Gallery Weekend Kuala Lumpur event!

I would have to choose Aesop. They are great brand custodians, and also understand their audience really well. Although a skincare brand, Aesop believes wholeheartedly in arts, music and literature. A lot of the brand association centres around those three themes. Just to give a small example, we sponsor door gifts to theatrical plays like Romeo and Juliet at the KL Performance Arts Centre - which is fitting because one of Aesop’s product is aptly named “Rose By Any Other Name”. If you know your Shakespeare, you’d know the reference. I think that Aesop is a sophisticated brand that exudes class, and we are more than happy to spread its message.