Vong Tiongson | The Innovator 25 Asia-Pacific 2023

Vonj Tingson

PageOne Group


Creativity shouldn't be solitary. By involving your team in the creative process, you tap into their unique perspectives and inspire collective innovation.”

As the leaders of Philippines agency PageOne, Vonj Tingson has brought his formidable IT expertise to bear in order to transform operations — in the process disrupting the country’s traditional PR landscape. Tingson’s work encompasses the Wildfyre online campaign programme, along with the Storify platform that focuses specifically on social media. The initiatives have also transformed the blogging environment, streamlined content distribution and resulted in numerous awards for the agency. 

How do you define innovation?
Innovation is the strategic application of technology whenever it aligns with necessity and suitability. In our ever-evolving technological landscape, innovations occur consistently. True innovation emerges when we harness these technological advancements to enhance the quality of life for individuals, improve the performance of businesses, and ultimately contribute to the betterment of our global society.

What is the most innovative PR or marketing initiative you've seen over the past 12 months?
One of the most intriguing developments I've observed in PR and marketing over the past year involves the widespread adoption of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences. This innovative approach has redefined how businesses connect with their audiences, particularly in a world still grappling with the enduring impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Numerous sectors, ranging from the fashion industry to real estate, have wholeheartedly embraced VR and AR technologies to offer immersive and interactive encounters. For instance, fashion brands have orchestrated virtual fashion exhibitions, granting audiences the opportunity to explore three-dimensional clothing collections from the comfort of their homes. Simultaneously, real estate enterprises have introduced virtual property tours, enabling potential buyers to remotely explore homes. These groundbreaking endeavors seamlessly bridge the physical and digital realms, presenting a fresh and captivating channel for engaging with consumers. Furthermore, the escalating popularity of AR filters and interactive advertising campaigns on social media platforms has been quite remarkable. Brands have skillfully employed these tools to permit users to virtually sample products like cosmetics or apparel prior to making purchase decisions. This not only elevates the customer experience but also contributes to heightened conversion rates. These remarkable innovations underscore the adaptability of PR and marketing professionals when confronted with the challenges posed by the pandemic. They exemplify how technology can be artfully harnessed to sustain meaningful connections with audiences within an ever-evolving digital landscape. As we navigate the evolving landscape of the post-pandemic world, it is highly probable that such initiatives will continue to spearhead marketing innovation, fundamentally reshaping how businesses engage with their clientele.

In your opinion, which brands and/or agencies are most innovative in their approach to PR and marketing?
PAGEONE has earned a reputation for its unwavering commitment to ongoing innovation in public relations. We stand out by consistently pushing the boundaries of traditional PR methods. What sets PAGEONE apart is our distinctive advantage—an in-house publishing group. This internal resource empowers PAGEONE to seize control of narratives and strategically deliver messages in the online sphere at precisely the right moments. This technological advantage not only distinguishes PAGEONE from its competitors but also bestows upon its clients a unique competitive edge. The ability to tailor message delivery to specific times and platforms underscores PAGEONE's commitment to adaptability, precision, and the effective utilization of technology. By offering this proactive approach to communication, PAGEONE not only aligns with the demands of the ever-evolving digital landscape but also sets a notablestandard for innovation in the PR and marketing industry. Our approach highlights the significance of staying ahead of the curve in an era where technology and strategic messaging are paramount to success.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider to be innovative.
It was during the COVID-19 pandemic that really brought forward the value and importance of innovation in managing the unprecedented challenges to the world of public relations. Because the pandemic disrupted traditional communication channels, being president and chief technology officer of our agency, I spearheaded several initiatives that pushed our business to adapt rapidly to the changing requirements of the industry. For example, one of the most immediate changes brought by the pandemic was the sudden shift to remote work. In our agency, we swiftly adopted digital collaboration tools, video conferencing platforms, and project management software to ensure seamless communication within our teams and with clients. We used several online conference platforms coordinate campaigns, monitor progress, and maintain client relationships.The pandemic also created a need for rapid response and crisis management initiative. In our agency, social media listening tools became essential for monitoring public discussions, identifying emerging crises, and responding swiftly. Automated chatbots and AI-driven customer service tools helped manage inquiries and provide real-time information, ensuring that organizations maintained a strong online presence despite uncertainty.Also, we implemented a strategic online reputation management given the increased proliferation of misinformation and disinformation during the pandemic. We used technology to monitor online conversations, identify false information, and implement strategies to counteract false narratives. Some advanced trackers also enabled us and our clients to regain control of our online reputation and build trust during these times of uncertainty.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?
As a technology professional, I deeply admire the innovative prowess of individuals such as Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg. They are at the forefront of innovation, consistently conceiving groundbreaking products and services that often redefine our needs and expectations. What sets them apart is their remarkable ability not only to address existing demands but also to ignite fresh demand by leveraging technology in ingenious ways. Through their visionary leadership, they have not only shaped industries but have also profoundly influenced the way we live, constantly pushing the boundaries of what's possible in the realm of innovation. Their commitment to innovation extends beyond their initial successes. These leaders continue to pioneer new technologies and industries, whether it's Musk's ambitious plans for Mars colonization, Bezos's ventures into space tourism with Blue Origin, or Zuckerberg's vision for the metaverse. Their ability to anticipate and create future needs demonstrates the true essence of innovation – not simply meeting existing demands, but also shaping the future of technology and society itself.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
With years of experience and exposure to diverse creative endeavors, I've learned that when creativity wanes, it's essential to recharge. Taking a break, getting sufficient rest, and rejuvenating one's mind often sparks fresh ideas. If this alone doesn't work, collaboration comes into play. Creativity shouldn't be solitary. By involving your team in the creative process, you tap into their unique perspectives and inspire collective innovation. This not only overcomes the immediate creative block but also cultivates a culture of shared creativity, ensuring a smooth transition of creative responsibilities to your team in the future.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
Incorporating innovation is not an option but a necessity. The conventional approaches to publicity are no longer adequate in our contemporary environment. With numerous platforms available, each fostering the creation of diverse communities, individuals can participate in multiple physical and digital networks simultaneously. Although traditional media channels still hold relevance, it's imperative to embrace innovation as a means of reaching individuals wherever they may be.Expounding on this notion, the PR industry needs to recognize that the landscape of communication has transformed significantly. People are no longer confined to a single channel for information; they traverse various platforms and engage in multiple communities, both in the physical and online realms. In this context, innovative strategies become paramount.PR professionals should be proactive in exploring new avenues and technologies that facilitate reaching target audiences. This could involve leveraging social media, adopting data-driven approaches, and implementing digital storytelling techniques, among others. The goal is to meet individuals on the platforms and in the communities where they actively participate, ensuring that your message resonates effectively.While traditional media channels remain influential, relying solely on them can limit your reach. Innovation allows the PR industry to adapt to evolving communication patterns, fostering more meaningful and impactful connections with audiences. Embracing innovation is not just about staying current; it's about staying ahead in a dynamic and ever-changing media landscape.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
Building companies that offer app-based services.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has provided inspiration over the past year?
Over the past year, I've drawn inspiration from a variety of cultural sources that have enriched my life in different ways. Notably, Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop has been a source of insight into health, wellness, and personal development. Rick Steve's Travel Shows have ignited my sense of wanderlust and adventure, encouraging me to explore new destinations and learn about diverse cultures. Chip and Joanna Gaines' Fixer Upper have sparked my creativity and interest in home improvement, offering a fresh perspective on design and renovation projects.Additionally, Kristen Forgione's LIFESTYLECO has played a role in helping me maintain a well-rounded and balanced lifestyle, which has been especially valuable during a period of digital transformation at the office. Lastly, the entrepreneurial insights and innovative ideas presented on Shark Tank have motivated me in the business realm, inspiring my own professional endeavors.While these sources may not focus on technology-based topics, they have contributed significantly to maintaining balance and inspiration in my life. This balance has been particularly beneficial during the digital transformation initiative at work, providing me with a valuable break from technology-centric tasks and offering insights into various aspects of life and business.

How can the PR and communications industry harness innovation to make more progress on diversity, equity and inclusion?
The PR and communications industry can harness innovation to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion by leveraging technology and data-driven approaches to track, analyze, and improve representation and inclusivity in messaging, campaigns, and hiring practices.For one, by adopting AI-driven tools we can develop a more unbiased content analysis that ensures messages resonate across diverse audiences. We can also leveraging social listening and sentiment analysis to help gender-sensitive public perception and sentiments, guiding more inclusive campaign plans and strategies. Moreover, innovative hiring practices, like blind recruitment using AI, can mitigate unconscious biases in talent acquisition. By embracing cutting-edge technology, the industry can better reflect and engage diverse communities, ultimately advancing the cause of diversity, equity, and inclusion in communications.