Entrepreneurship, Self-Improvement

Learn The Ropes From Ivy Woo Of FoodNews PR – Deborah Tan

foodnewslogoEveryone loves food and, in Singapore, we are constantly on the lookout for new restaurants and hawker stalls with snaking queues of customers. So what better way to embrace your passion for food than to start a PR agency specialising in F&B? This week, we interview Ivy Woo, the director of FoodNews Public Relations. FoodNews Public Relations is a three and a half year old setup and has an impressive list of clients which includes restaurants such as Absinthe, Halia, Fat Cow and cocktail bar Jigger & Pony.

We find out more about what drove Ivy to leave her 9-t0-5 job at Fiji Water to become her own boss.

1. How did FoodNews PR come about? Did you set it up by yourself or with partners?
I started the company with my husband. I was working with Fiji Water at that time, and though I was really enjoying the work there, I knew I wanted to try being out on my own. I was 34 then, and if I wanted to start my own firm, it was then or never. So I quit my job and started FoodNews. It was nerve-wracking but I thought, “What the heck!” If it did not work out, I could always go back to looking for a job, even if it meant waitressing (which I really enjoy by the way!)

Dealing with scrumptious food for a living? Sign us up! [Image credit: Halia from FoodNews PR's Facebook Page]

Dealing with scrumptious food for a living? Sign us up! [Image credit: Halia from FoodNews PR’s Facebook Page]

2. Before embarking on the path of entrepreneurship, what did you do for a living and what was it that drove you to start your business?
I was the Market Development Manager for Asia, for Fiji Water. I worked with Fiji Water for about 4 years and was still enjoying the work very much when I left. As I said, it was then or never. I didn’t want to wait till I was 50 to start a business! If I failed at that age, no one would employ me again!

3. What does FoodNews PR do?
We are a boutique public relations firm, with a strong presence in the food and beverage sector.

4. Briefly take us through the process of starting a PR firm [for example the licenses to apply, the certification you need to get, the kind of legal paperwork that you have to get done, etc.]
Starting a PR firm is really the same as starting any other company. Our advantage is that we are in the business of providing a service. So overheads and start-up cost can be pretty low.

You start by registering your business online. When registering the business, spend time studying the different “company types” such as private limited, sole proprietorship etc.. Each category has its pros and cons, so you read up carefully before choosing one. If it helps, you can also visit ACRA personally to ask questions.

5. What was your vision for FoodNews PR when you first started it? How has this vision changed or shifted today? Was that something you expected?
I knew from Day One the agency would service the food and beverage sector. That hasn’t changed. What has changed though, is the size of the team and our service offerings. On top of traditional public relations, we offer marketing and social media management for our clients.

6. What are some of the biggest challenges facing PR firms today? How is FoodNews positioned to deal with them?
There are so many of them, big and small. The PR world is also evolving, and many are struggling to understand the world of social media. We just have to continue to invest in learning/training, retaining talent and doing a good job for the clients.

Ivy (seated, left) with her team at FoodNews PR.

Ivy (seated, left) with her team at FoodNews PR.

7. How would you describe your management style?
Open and collaborative. I am straightforward and I always ask that the team be honest with me. We have a very open channel of communication and I am always ready to listen.

8. How do you deal with competition in this industry? How do you guard against competitors out to one up you all the time?
I don’t spend time worrying about others. I prefer to spend time building FoodNews, ensuring the company and team are growing in the right direction.

9. Any advice for new PR firms struggling to get their businesses off the ground?
Don’t just do what’s expected of you. Always strive to deliver more. This applies to everything you do.

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About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. She hates that it’s so difficult to start a food truck in Singapore. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweet.

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