Bangkok’s illegally modified motorcycle noise makes being here a living Hell

I can’t find a precise translation for the Thai terms Vanz Boys or Dek Waen; the closest I have found so far is probably “noisy child.” It is truly remarkable that a city the size of Bangkok and with a global significance as the so-called gateway to Asia and hub of ASEAN has been totally surrendered to gangs of mindless motorcycle thugs.

Every morning before the rush hour, every afternoon at 3.30pm (school kicking-out time), then through the evening and late into the night, millions of Bangkok residents are plagued and punished by the sounds of a million illegally modified motorcycle exhausts cutting through their condo walls. This menace is preventing them from sleeping, causing irreparable hearing damage to everyone, and distress to babies and mothers alike. I live 27 floors up and the sound still rattles fixtures and fittings.

Welcome to the apocalypse. This is what a city looks like when its entire police force has given up. These reckless morons on their bikes, bouncing off the rev limiter in first gear at 110 decibels (well within human hearing damage realm), huddled low over their fuel tank, like a chimpanzee mating with a watermelon – this is the sound of now, and it’s intolerable.

There are already laws which make modifying and racing bikes illegal. They don’t work because the penalties are tiny and there is no will to enforce them. Bangkok will never be a first world city while its laws and public safety are ridiculed by defiant teenagers.

Any other city on Earth could fix this.

Bangkok’s biggest fault, as is the case when judging it from almost any angle, is its “Thai-ness.” A difficult thing to define, it typically means a flaccid approach to a common sense solution which COULD be applied, but when you mention it, the response you typically receive would be, “That will never change.”

We see the future of Thai-ness in full effect on Sukhumvit 77, at two o’ clock every morning. Come and see for yourself. In reality, it looks more like a failed state. There is a massive police station on the corner of Sukhumvit and On Nut, but one can only guess as to its function. I’ve lived on soi 77 for almost three years, and never once have seen a police officer stop any one of these noisy little idiots.

We cannot, sadly, just attach razor wire at head height between lamp posts. Firstly, because it would prevent normal people in cars from moving around; secondly, it would also be deemed an infringement of human rights (these punks are human?).

What then of the human right to not go deaf through the actions of others? One kid puts an illegal exhaust on his bike and through his own selfishness and arrogance damages the well-being of half a million people a day. How is this just? Tragically it is not one kid; about one in two bikes seem to be carrying illegal exhausts right now.

This fact in and of itself is amazing.

You cannot walk down the street punching thousands of strangers in the eardrum, yet if you own a motorcycle, you are allowed to do this via proxy and are left to get away with the pain you are causing. Here we see Thai-ness. It is selfishness. It is the thought for yourself, a lack of respect for others, and the absence of any kind of empathy or solution.

If you are found riding a bike with dangerous noise equipment added, you are a threat to public health. So the penalty should be severe. Any bike found carrying this equipment should be removed from the road and crushed into a cube. After one month, the boy’s family would be contacted, issued a massive fine, and told to come and collect their cube. Severe action should be taken against the bike shops carrying out these mods too, including immediate 3-year suspended prison sentences.

There has been much reporting in the media lately about illegal racing, accidents and deaths, people riding without lights, without a helmet. I personally can’t see a problem with any of these things, because any factor that brings swift death to these fools is to be applauded. We want you dead and off our streets, so please ride as fast as you can. This is Darwinian evolution, to some large and welcome extent.

But by itself it is not enough. These morons need sorting out.

You do this by hitting them where they hurt, in their tiny little dicks that they attach to these monkey-mobiles. Let’s sort this mess out and show that we, Bangkok, a city of 10 million, are not all retarded enough to let this continue.

But for now, all I want is a good night’s sleep.


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Just Drive Asia

vector HEFE


July 2015 marks the launch of, the Asia-Pacific’s only dedicated English language driving experience and motoring lifestyle web site.


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So what’s with the ‘Just’ thing that’s bandied around the Just Drive Asia web site and on each article type? Well, taken by its raw meaning, it’s literally a hand on both shoulders and shake the world awake kind of “Just Drive, Goddamnit!”

Let me explain. We’re living in the Asia Pacific, a part of the world that enjoys rapid and continuously growing population explosion, and with it, the desire for all the middle class accoutrements, including cars of course. We’re a society wrapped up in badge, image and social climbing, fussing over ostentation and missing the point entirely.

I firmly believe there is a small portion of the SE Asia population, a well-informed and passionate figurative slice of the overall populace that actually GETS cars – the joy, the addiction, the thrill of driving – as opposed to owning – a car. Any car, any drive experience.

We are the 1%.

We can also look at it another way, as in JUST drive; as in a noun not a verb; a JUST drive – justified, fair, impartial, objective. Our close relationships with lots of the big car manufacturers put us in a position of authority, but we remain impartial. Our love of driving and cars is the universal mediator that keeps us honest (and addicted).

Finally, I would like to suggest that Just Drive Asia could mean, “You really MUST drive in, on, through, to, for Asia…” Because? Because, we’re developing. Slowly. But we’ll get there. Wherever ‘there’ is, we will arrive, fuelled entirely by our passion for motoring and all things automotive.

Again, we are the 1%.



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This reinforces what we already know… VW has the cool brands, Fiat’s got the broken ones and the Japanese are boring




Please visit our latest automotive blog, Just Drive Asia, for road tests, reviews, automotive news and auto lifestyle happenings across ASEAN and Asia Pacific




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Understanding Public Relations

Zen of PR PR yourself to Success3-20140919-174939 front


The following chapter is an extract from “Zen of PR: PR Yourself to Success,” the first book in the Thai language pocketbook series, Zen of PR, available from all good book stores in Thailand, and also at:พีอาร์ตัวเองสู่ความสำเร็จ.aspx?no=9786163446077



If ‘public relations’ summons visions of an oil executive waving his arms at a media scrum and protesting hopelessly that his company’s burst pipeline wasn’t responsible for destroying the lives of thousands, you’re not alone. This dirty side of public relations is so closely associated with the term that we wonder why on earth we would need any sort of PR when we conduct our business or manage our personal public profile in only the most well-considered manner. PR is the dark art of spin, mistruths and the massaging of facts to achieve outcomes that we honestly do not deserve.

In reality however, public relations is not any of these things. It simply defines the way in which we manage our messaging to the world. It is not only something to be used by growing small businesses or government departments; it is something we use all the time in our personal lives, from the images and updates we post on our Facebook pages to the things we allow friends to write about us on their family blogs. It is not a corporate bag of tricks designed to con people into buying things from our employer; it is a principal set of skills which allows us to be represented to the world properly, whether we are a business or a person.

One thing that should be made clear to all marketers, would-be celebs, entrepreneurs and small business owners right from the start is that using a public relations company to handle your PR is not cheap – several thousand dollars per month at least for a fully outsourced program. The cost is prohibitive to those of us who have little or no budget, and ironically we are the sort of people that would (and should) benefit from using PR the most.

What this guide will do is provide a detailed set of fundamental PR skills which will enable you to get into your first-choice college, get the right job, grow your modelling career, get your art exhibited at the right gallery, have the newspapers come to your boutique shoe shop launch, generate local support for your committee application, or generate a buzz about your new invention. It will provide you with ways to save a fortune on advertising costs and marketing mistakes, and contribute to making your business or personal journey a successful one.

Understanding what we want to achieve

Our first introductory heading here should perhaps have read, “Understanding what we want to achieve and why we all share the same goal.”

It is important to understand that Public Relations serves the needs of private individuals and businesses in exactly the same way. It enables us to increase the value of the work we are doing, regardless of the type of project we are working on or our final objective.

A marketing manager within a successful business may understand the value of using a well-defined PR program because it has the potential to create a larger market and a greater buzz about her company. Yet this is no different to a semi-pro photographer who has managed to get his work exhibited at a small local gallery and now needs journalists, camera manufacturers and the general public to rock up and see his work.

These two people share a common goal, which is to get their message across.

This is exactly what public relations skills enable us to do, step by wobbly step. So please come along with us on a journey we hope is interesting and adds unimaginable value to your business or personal endeavours.

Understanding how PR can help us achieve our goals

Public Relations, whether applied to our business/personal project by an expensive outsourced agency or by our own freshly squeezed PR skills, does ONE thing and one thing only; it AMPLIFIES our message. The message, or rather our messages, are the things we want people to know about us or our business.

Because we are all awesome in our own mental projection of ourselves, we each have many messages we would like to get across to others.

If we are a company, we have hundreds of sophisticated products (or solutions, as we have taken to calling them) which do many amazing things; if we are a rising celebrity, senator or councillor, we probably have presided over many members’ clubs and done lots and lots of selflessly epic charity work with animals which have wheels instead of back legs. In fact, there are many things that are unique and wonderful about us, and whilst the public should know these fascinating things over time, they cannot absorb everything at once as we will overload them with information.

So we need to look at the most important messages; those messages which convey all the exciting little things about our product or our personal profile that contribute to our brand being trustworthy, or the defining characteristic of our election campaign that will demonstrate to voters why they should vote for us.

These are our key messages.

The defining of effective key messages is essential to everything we do in PR. This point could not be hammered home with enough power if we were to nail it to a rocket and launch it at the Sun.

Without creating messaging which is clear, consistent, easy to understand, interesting and true, then even a public relations guru with decades of experience cannot help us – and seeking to engage such a person would simply waste our money.

We also do not need them.

Not, at least, while we’re at a stage where our entrepreneurial idea is just sprouting seedlings, or our business is small and growing, or our public profile is attracting some interest but we are not a local celebrity yet. We can empower all of these things by creating a great key message (or messages), and then amplifying them through the PR skills we will learn throughout this volume.

What would a PR company do if I could afford to use one?

Good question. Your PR partner does not design or buy advertising for you, and nor do they manage your events. The sole purpose of your public relations consultant is to support your own messaging, so regardless of whether you are seeking to use an agency or you want to go “guerrilla” and do the whole public relations thing yourself on no budget, getting your key messages right at the very beginning is super important.

The PR firm employs a team of consultants, media liaison and support staff, and yet their primary goal is the same as your own would be were you to go it alone – amplifying your messages.

Where your PR partner ultimately proves to be valuable is in media relations. The good ones will maintain strong (and personally friendly) relationships with many of the media organisations you are looking to use to promote yourself; crucially, this typically includes all of the daily newspapers in your city, perhaps some lower level connections at national TV companies, and a whole truckload of lifestyle and business magazine editors.

The relationship between a PR firm and its media partners is symbiotic; the magazines help to publicise stories and features on the PR company’s clients, and in return, the publication gets free and unlimited access to written and photographic content for use in the magazine (and sometimes advertising revenue). If you were to use a good PR firm and you wanted to be featured in a certain magazine, not only would they stand a good chance of getting you in there, but you would probably be having dinner with the editor the following week at a private function, organised by the PR team, at which you could present yourself and your product, and of course begin to build a personal relationship with the editor.

This is the fast-track advantage of outsourcing your PR, and it’s the primary reason why you will be charged an arm and a leg for the service; paying all those consultants a salary is not cheap. Note also that most PR firms work on six or twelve month retainer contracts, so for someone who’s developed a cool new product on a shoestring, the cost of PR’ing it professionally for a year is relatively astronomical compared to the few hundred bucks you’ve spent cobbling together your prototype for a 100% biodegradable television/vacuum cleaner/cocktail blender contraption.

We will come to Connecting with media & building relationships later in this volume. Right now, it’s only important that you understand what the PR company would have done for us could we have afforded to employ one.

Can I really do it myself?

The simple answer is that you do not have a choice, and so you’ve taken a great step in committing some time to developing your own PR skills. This, the first volume of Zen of PR, will equip you with key skills in public relations, with subsequent volumes providing you with a developing skill set which you can use to empower almost any sort of business, project or personal endeavour. Feel free to cherry-pick chapters from either volume as you need them depending on what you’re trying to achieve and the skills you may have already.

Actually, screw it; read them all, because the knowledge you will find is valuable, will save you making a few pricey mistakes along the way.

On a more DNA-centric level will probably change the way you think about company marketing or personal image-building entirely.

Examples of people who thought they didn’t need to know PR and what happens when they do

Case Study – “The Cook”

Imagine you have been working as a chef in a small Italian restaurant in your home city for seven years. You wake up one day and decide you need a change of pace and a risky new approach to grabbing life by the balls and making something of yourself; you can’t make pollo carbonara forever.

So you move from Europe to a modern Asian city and decide that you want to put your cooking skills to good use making money by offering a 5-star catering-at-home service. There is a strong appetite (pun intended) for fine Italian cuisine and foreign chefs of distinction in your new city, but so far nobody knows who you are.

If you had money to burn, this is where your PR partner would step in and launch you. However, since we’re new in town and fairly broke, we’re going to “guerrilla” it.

In putting together some sort of PR plan to help us, we need to develop at least a little situational awareness about the market we are operating in – not just for companies, but for would-be celebrities too. Our chef example here is a great case study, as he is both a business and a would-be celebrity.

One approach would be to have a nice photo portfolio made, to write your own one-page biography and short story and start sending it to magazines (a press release).

This will fail for a number of reasons.

Firstly, you are not known to your market, so you have little media magnetism or star power; secondly, you are not known to the media, and so you do not have the personal relationship necessary to even call on a favour.

Now imagine that instead of sending your bio and photos to magazines and newspapers, you send them to some mid-range hotels which you notice are advertising heavily in the very magazines you would love to be featured in.

You offer to provide a free one-hour cooking demonstration in the hotel’s restaurant as part of one of their weekly Sunday brunch offerings; a display in which you will unveil specially crafted rustic dishes in honour of your late grandmother, who created gastronomic treats from locally sourced Mediterranean ingredients, and now you will introduce this incredibly authentic Italian cooking style to your new city.

The hotel loves this because you’re working for free; they will assume you’re famous in Europe because they don’t want to offend you by asking, and they love it also because they now have something to feature in their next (usually boring) Sunday Buffet press release. The magazines are interested in running it because the hotel buys advertising every month and this will keep them from going elsewhere.

And you’re happy, because after sending a couple for emails and spending an hour cooking your favourite dishes in front of a small audience, you’ve walked out of the hotel with everyone taking your picture and uploading the images to Facebook – not to mention your free editorial in a luxury lifestyle magazine next month. You will probably be asked for business cards too, at which point you can introduce your 5-star home dining concept, so you’re pretty much up and running.

Total cost? Zero.

Case Study – “The Newbie”

Moving to a new city is always challenging, and it can be hard to make new friends. Imagine that, after accepting a new job in a new place, you’ve been out a few times and made four new friends; you are not close to any of them yet – they are just people you’ve chatted to and swapped numbers. You would like to grow your relationship with these guys, but they’re busy and do not always reply to your messages as they do not know you well.

One night, you decide to visit a local jazz bar and watch a singer perform. You’re not really that interested and the tickets are quite expensive, but you decide to accept the Facebook invitation and go anyway. When you arrive, the show is boring and you decide to leave half way through, but still take a few photos on your phone and upload them to your social sites.

Although you’ve not had a particularly fascinating time, your new friends have viewed the images on your Facebook, and the following day, two of the four people send you messages; something like, “Hey, looks like you had fun last night. What are you doing this Saturday? Any plans?”

What’s happened here is that we have, on an incredibly small and simple level, used the power of public relations to achieve our clearly defined goals, which were to make new friends and improve the quality of our existing relationships. We’ve done this through using photos, using social media, going to events (that actually are nothing to do with us, or even our work) and creating simple messaging which has engaged others.

Now consider a large car manufacturer launching a new car model at a luxury hotel. The company uses a PR team to amplify the messages supporting their launch, but instead of our lonesome newbie attending, the PR company sends five of its top consultants, and each has a network of 200-300 media, PR and professional people who are all being engaged by the PR company’s endeavours.

The result will be an utter media frenzy.

Remember – exactly the same principal: photos, social media uploads, networking, leveraging connections and growing profiles by being seen at events and showing others that they are socially and professionally active.

Both examples work on the same fundamentals, which are creating messaging, amplifying those messages and creating engagement. Although the lonesome newbie and the big PR firm are poles apart and attending different events with different objectives, they are using the same tools to achieve success.

It is precisely this reason why the power of PR is accessible to all, and why almost anybody can take advantage of positive improvements in their specific circumstances, be they business or personal, by learning key public relations skills.

That’s what we’re here to help you learn with these guides.

©2014 D. Swinfen, Phetraguy Publishing

Please visit our latest automotive blog, Just Drive Asia, for road tests, reviews, automotive news and auto lifestyle happenings across ASEAN and Asia Pacific

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25 Essential Men’s Style Charts

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Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

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1. Know the differences between American-, British-, and European-cut suits.

Know the differences between American-, British-, and European-cut suits.

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And learn what different fabrics look like.

2. When it comes to buttons, follow these easy rules.

When it comes to buttons, follow these easy rules.

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3. Before you throw on that shirt with that tie, STOP! And take a look at these helpful color and pattern combos.

Before you throw on that shirt with that tie, STOP! And take a look at these helpful color and pattern combos.

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4. This helpful guide to patterns can also help. From the center: suit, shirt, and tie combos.

This helpful guide to patterns can also help. From the center: suit, shirt, and tie combos.

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5. Speaking of patterns, here’s a helpful guide to punchy plaids.

Speaking of patterns, here's a helpful guide to punchy plaids.

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6. If you’re buying a suit, you should definitely try these ~quirky~ tricks.

If you're buying a suit, you should definitely try these ~quirky~ tricks.

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7. Once you’ve got your suit figured out, you can pick the best shoes to go with it.

Once you've got your suit figured out, you can pick the best shoes to go with it.

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8. And about that suit… Here’s how it should fit.

And about that suit... Here's how it should fit.

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9. Still confused? Here’s a more detailed guide on how pants, shirts, and jackets should fit.

Still confused? Here's a more detailed guide on how pants, shirts, and jackets should fit.

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10. Here’s a helpful guide to the difference between different pants lengths. Typically, you’ll want something between a half and quarter break.

Here's a helpful guide to the difference between different pants lengths. Typically, you'll want something between a half and quarter break.

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But it’s helpful to see what your options are.

11. Know your collar.

Know your collar.

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12. But wait! Maybe you’re in the market for a tux? Consider these rules…that you should break.

But wait! Maybe you're in the market for a tux? Consider these rules...that you should break.

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13. First things first: Here are what colors go with other colors.

First things first: Here are what colors go with other colors.

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14. For the best sleeve roll ever, try this simple technique.

For the best sleeve roll ever, try this simple technique.

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15. Figuring out the difference between business casual and smart casual and semi-formal can drive you batcrackers. This should help:

Figuring out the difference between business casual and smart casual and semi-formal can drive you batcrackers. This should help:

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16. Looking for a simple way not to muck it up? May we suggest:

Looking for a simple way not to muck it up? May we suggest:

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Not that you needed to be told not to wear a Guy Fieri fire shirt.

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17. Learn the key to a totally boss pocket square.

Learn the key to a totally boss pocket square.

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18. Bow ties? You got this.

Bow ties? You got this.

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19. Are you ready for this? Eighteen ways to tie a necktie. EIGHTEEN WAYS! That’s a lot of ways!

Are you ready for this? Eighteen ways to tie a necktie. EIGHTEEN WAYS! That's a lot of ways!

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20. Learn the secrets of the universe — aka how to put on cufflinks with the greatest of ease.

Learn the secrets of the universe — aka how to put on cufflinks with the greatest of ease.

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21. Keep your scarf game on lock.

Keep your scarf game on lock.

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22. Not sure what the difference between an Oxford and a loafer is? NOW YOU KNOW!

Not sure what the difference between an Oxford and a loafer is? NOW YOU KNOW!

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23. Find the right sunglasses to make you look like a rock star.

Find the right sunglasses to make you look like a rock star.

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View this image ›

24. Here’s how to properly pack your shirts to maximize space and minimize annoying wrinkles.

Here's how to properly pack your shirts to maximize space and minimize annoying wrinkles.


Have you had any experience with Choi Heo yogichoi (초희 Korean #yogichoi) ? We want to hear from you!  Please share your story at

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Growing a fanbase and engaging followers


The following chapter is an extract from “Zen of PR: Rising Celebrity, Growing Business,” the second book in the Thai language pocketbook series, Zen of PR, available from all good book stores in Thailand, and also at:พีอาร์ตัวเองสู่ความสำเร็จ.aspx?no=9786163446077



Whether we are a rising celebrity or we own a tiny but growing brand, we are one and the same; and one of the most important elements of getting us out there is social media. As the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LINE, whatever, permeate every aspect of our life these days, the borders between work and play have become very blurred.

This is exactly what life is like for a public relations professional, and so you have recognised that you are no different to a PR pro in terms of how you connect with the world and its demands upon you. Your colleagues and clients are friends, and friends of friends; your drinking buddies are now consulting for your company, and your company is looking to create events to enable media professionals to drink for free – it’s all part of the dance; the modern, 24-hour, ‘always-on’ working world of trying to PR ourselves.

When we attend an evening product launch because our work demands that we go, we are networking and having fun; when we go to a charity event with no work commitment involved, we are connecting and developing our social profile and our business visibility. Work and play, play and work – it’s now all integrated. And it is social media that straps this mess together and enables communication across our many social groups, and the cataloguing of our bundles of professional connections.

We’re not going to discuss the individual social media platforms in detail for two reasons; 1) there are millions of social media marketing articles on line, so you’ve got plenty of bedtime reading to do already, and 2) you are probably familiar with most of them – that thing in your pocket that keeps beeping, bonging and frying you with cellular radiation takes a copy of all of your private information every few seconds and integrates it with those of your friends and connections for the purposes of selling you advertising.

This chapter will give you a more strategic overview of how to interact with your followers and fans, integrate your platforms, and leave the tactics bit to freelance marketing bloggers.

Starting out

For wannabe models, MCs, TV presenters, actors, artists and musicians who want to build a following, a logical starting point is Facebook. This is because most people use FB already, and therefore you have a group of ‘followers’ with which you are already communicating. This chapter is also highly relevant for those looking to grow their business connections too, as in the last chapter we encouraged you to go and meet new people, and here we will explain what you can do to engage them after meeting them.

If you’ve ever posted something witty, intellectual or inspired on Facebook and received lots of likes and positive replies, you’ll know that engaging people with content in a way they appreciate and enjoy is immensely rewarding. In a way, Facebook has allowed everyone in the whole world to become their own publicist.

This is not necessarily a good thing.

It can be very easy to upset, offend, disparage or otherwise unfairly dismiss people with an ill-considered comment. This does not affect us because we know our key messages and we understand that our social media endeavours support only the amplification of those key messages.

This raises us from being a mere public user to being a professional PR practitioner.

For very small businesses and low-level celebrities, it’s possible to conduct all of your Facebook interaction via your personal page. However, it makes more sense to create a page for your business or public profile as a separate entity. Individuals can use the “Create Page – Artist, Band or Public Figure” option; businesses can use either “Create Page – Brand or Product” or “Create Page – Local Business or Place.”

Creating a separate page frees up more options for posting involving content, beautifying your page, and crucially, purchasing adverting.

Facebook advertising: when is it appropriate?

As someone looking to quickly grow a following, one of the first strategies you will already have considered is to advertise on Facebook. In theory, the ability to create incredibly tailored campaigns to target ONLY customers and followers who (by their nature) are interested in you or your product, should be revolutionary, and many a business plan is built upon it.

After all, if you’re selling plastic toys to cosplay enthusiasts aged between 40 and 45 within three kilometres of Manila, that’s a pretty specific market, right?

The problem comes when you realise the 5000 fans you’ve joyfully amassed in the last month of buying Facebook advertising are not actually interested in you or your product; they are “click-farmers” – people paid to like pages.

The second wave of annoyance will crash through you when you realise that, in addition to paying for advertising, you also have to pay for every post you wish to be seen by more than two or three of your followers.

Couple these two considerations together and what you’ll surmise is that you’ve paid hundreds of dollars to connect with Turkish and Indian robots who have no interest in your product, and then paid hundreds of dollars more to push specific posts to these robots, again, yielding absolutely no value.

And so Facebook, as an advertising solution, sits somewhat at odds with the very reason you’re reading this book – to amplify your public visibility without having to resort to expensive or ineffective methods. Throughout Zen of PR, we’ve tried to teach you to think like a PR pro and spend no money whilst achieving incredible results – so we can do better than Facebook adverts.

However …

Where Facebook’s valueless hordes of unreal followers become valuable is in our initial foray into public life. If we are just embarking on our route to being a famous businessman, politician, painter or rock guitarist, we paradoxically need at least some likes.

The quickest way to do this is with Facebook adverting.

An inalienable truth of human nature is that we are pack animals, or at least social creatures, and so we move in herds. A page with a large number of likes, real or otherwise, is more likely to attract real likes. You will need to determine the size and pace of growth of your flock you before you start throwing cash at the Facebook advertising equation.

It’s also worth noting that as a paying customer of Facebook, you are rewarded with absolutely zero customer support at all. If something goes wrong with your payment method, billing frequency, the advertisement itself, or indeed anything else, you’re on your own. You can fill in a “broken feature” request form, but they are not generally replied to. As is common these days, all there is for help is a Frequently Asked Questions section, which by nature cannot address your individual issue. Facebook’s paid service always has, and continues to, feel like a hastily added cash-gathering (shareholder-appeasing) feature which was neither planned properly nor integrated properly. If you accidentally set a small ad campaign as 1000 dollars per day instead of 10 dollars by putting the decimal point in the wrong place – again, you’re screwed; there is nobody to help you at all.

If you’re still unsure about the Facebook ad quandary and you have an external web site, you’re better off going with Google Advertising – simply because it’s targeted at people who are actively searching for your content.

Tweets: breaking news and endless noise

Twitter is the SMS of the internet. 140-character messages can be crafted in seconds and immediately relayed to the handsets of anyone who follows us. The value of this fact alone is unimaginable, and yet there are still companies … digital marketing companies, even … who are unable to harness the value of this microblogging site.

The true value of Twitter is its immediacy. Often, journalists turn to it for information;
that’s how important it has become. If we want to know about a disaster happening on the ground in real time, we use Twitter, because media organisations are too slow to provide us with information. And since we are seeking to connect and provide content to journalists, time invested into learning Twitter is relevant to the objectives of engaging the media in us and our content. It’s also worthwhile in building relationships and ultimately growing our own profile.

Be warned though; it can take quite some time to build a following. The way to do this is to leverage ALL of your digital media platforms, connect them, co-promote them, and merge followers between sites. Once your Facebook followers become your Twitter followers, THEN you’ll start to see more people coming to real events you have created (or to those at which you are appearing as a guest speaker, and so on).

Actions speak louder than words

Or rather, ‘press coverage is stronger than advertising.’ This is the entire premise on which professional public relations and its engagement with the media landscape actually works, not to mention, how PR companies sell their services to clients. We may not be able to afford to pay a PR company, but we can learn well from this widely-held absolute.

In terms of social media, this means that throwing money at advertising our product, our election campaign or our beautiful face is LESS effective than posting a nice photo of us repairing a village well and feeding sick animals. People want to connect with things that inspire them, make them happy or interest them; posting images of yourself at a small public event might not attract media stakeholders – but if one of the images shows a hip photographer taking a picture of you as you MC the event, then more will follow, simply because you (or what you are doing) are perceived as being of interest.

Think in terms of our insatiable desire for content. Did you ever pick up your smartphone, skim through Instagram and LINE timeline and sigh because there was nothing engaging? Of course you did … probably even this morning. This is exactly the space in which you need to exist as a content provider – filling the vacuum that is desperate for something interesting to talk about. They want to talk about you – both the public and the media. You’re here to help, and your success will be a by-product.

Struggling for inspiration? You are able to provide interesting and inspiring content only by going out there and creating it; go on a charity trip, photograph yourself doing it, then tell the world about it.

If you live an interesting life, have interesting connections and interesting viewpoints on a wealth of relevant topics, people will likely be interested in you.

Other spaces in which you need to be

WordPress is SO important to you that it’s worth persevering with its universally unintuitive (this is IT speak for “shit-difficult”) interface.

Google likes WordPress; WordPress articles carry significant weight in search results, and because Google likes WordPress, you must like it too. WordPress is also great where you would like to have a good-looking website with regular new content but have no budget at all to pay a web developer to create one for you. It is still free, and the “choose a template” functionality enables you to be up and running fairly quickly. Then all you need to do is add posts.

As mentioned earlier, your collection of platforms should be integrated as much as possible; your Twitter should be set to automatically tweet your Facebook posts, and your blog page should make a regular call to action for people to follow you on Twitter, etcetera … and round and round we go.

It’s possible to compose thought-provoking journal entries and interesting opinion pieces on-line on the WordPress web site, but if you’re a PC user, try Windows Live Writer (in Live Essentials), as it really is a fast and clean tool for stress-free blogging. There are several apps which work almost as well on Mac, too.

Supporting real life with digital activities

So, the purpose of all of this tweeting, pressing, liking and co-promoting is to … do what, exactly?

If you’re about to answer with anything other than “Amplify my key message,” then hit Book 1 Chapter 1 for a refresher. Why are we here? It’s to do this ONE thing and one thing only.

All of this effort we are putting into creating and managing our social messaging sites is invested to support our “real life” initiatives. Our aim is to organise and direct the incredible communication power of all of these platforms, point them in the same direction and fire our key messages to people that matter.

Whilst our social media sites enable us, as part-time celebs or small business owners, to gather and harvest real (and not real) people to follow us and make us feel more important, what we’re actually doing is using it to grow our network of media connections, and increase the value of those connections.

We do this through creating content based on our key messages.

In the previous chapter, we looked at “Connecting with media & building relationships” – this is exactly the reason why social media is important to the success of our business or the popularity of our public profile; it is not to tell people about our product or show off our latest bikini shoot; it is to foster valuable connections by showing to media and to other attachments that we are capable of producing valuable and relevant content.

This in turn enables us to deliver of our key messages.

A final word of warning

DO NOT base your entire communication strategy solely reliant on just digital/social/new media (however you wish to define it). Those who work in digital marketing will tell you that you will only be successful by operating in the digital space, and that traditional PR companies and old-school shops and organisations will not survive.

Be careful.

Whether you are a celebrity, an artist or a business, you need to be active in both the digital world and the REAL WORLD.

When we’re thinking of buying a car, we visit the manufacturer’s web site, download the PDF brochure, sign up to the mailing list, play games on their microsite .. in fact, we engage with all sorts of clever digital channels.

And yet, when we are ready to commit to buying a car, what do we do?

We walk into the dealership, talk face-to-face with a human, touch the car, test drive it, read the hard copy contract, and then choose whether or not to buy it.

All of these are REAL WORLD activities.

Never neglect a real-world presence and rely solely on winning fans or customers through digital or social media – you will be committing digital suicide.

Understand the awesome power of the traditional public relations actions we have learned so far, and use it to empower yourself; then look for other channels which will help you become the celebrity you want to be, or the successful business owner you always dreamed of.

©2014 D. Swinfen, Phetraguy Publishing

Please visit our latest automotive blog, Just Drive Asia, for road tests, reviews, automotive news and auto lifestyle happenings across ASEAN and Asia Pacific





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The PR Pro’s Glossary of Essential Meaning


The Public Relations professional’s dictionary, an extract from the Zen of PR Thai language pocket book series, available from all good book stores in Thailand, and also at:พีอาร์ตัวเองสู่ความสำเร็จ.aspx?no=9786163446077




Third-party sites or printed publications which source and run stories from other media organisations but which may not be part of the same operating company or group – often in overseas markets.


Biography (bio)

Overview (summary) of a person’s professional career, current role, professional objectives and personal situation in reference to their own career-building, be it personal or in business.



The boilerplate is a standard appendix which goes at the end of a press release. Once created, it can be added to the bottom of all of your future releases, until such a time as the information on it changes. It should begin with an About Section, which gives one or two short paragraphs about your company; just a simple statement which echoes any pre-existing text you may have in your company brochures or on your web site. Something like, “XYZ Property is a leading developer of boutique condominium projects in South London. The company specialises in mid-rise high-yield developments of exceptional quality. Previous successful projects include The Maltings Residence and Victoria Tower, New Street.”



Written or spoken (or preferably both) instructions to the writer to prepare a press release. The quality of the brief has a heavy leaning on the quality of the resulting press release. It should cover the communication objective, key messages, product and brand info and any other stuff crucial to preparing an effective release.


Calendar News

A type of press release which highlights a future event. Text is typically short, highlighting only key points of the event intended for inclusion in the events diary of newspapers and news web sites. We’ll cover this in the next volume.


Coherence (communications)

Coherent messaging describes the effective alignment of all of your corporate communications to the public via the media across all of your communication channels. A radio interview about your new factory should carry the same underlying message as your newspaper article on the current jobs market – that you are a leading company, and that whether you are talking about your expansion plans or your recruitment strategy, you will always come back to your key messages, be they about your brand, product or operations.


Communication objective

The actual reason for writing the press release, and the strategic and tactical missions of the business which the press release is supposed to support.


Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Super-broad and often cringe-inducing lightweight collective realisation of an organisation’s desire, real or otherwise, to show it is a responsible member of the community. Often focusing on tiny fund-raising activities which give excuses for writing press releases (which in turn is cheaper than buying advertising), CSR messaging may be treated sceptically by editors. We will cover this in depth in a later guide.



The ability to produce a desired or intended result.


Key messages

Two, three or four short and true statements which we are trying to get across to the media.



File containing visual representation of how the feature will look. It is composed of text, images and the columns and borders “laid out” by the magazine’s graphic designer.



Graphical and easily identifiable representation of the company’s brand (and also possibly representative of its brand hallmarks).



The collective group of people and organisations to which we would like to communicate and thereby sell our product, service, personal profile, brand qualities or key messaging.


Massaging (of facts)

Whilst never a good idea to submit false information to the media, certain facts or statistics can be presented in such a way as to make them more or less prominent or important. If your market share is a disappointing 9%, up slightly from last year’s crappy 8%, then that’s great news; your year-on-year performance has improved by a market-leading 12.5%.


Media Questions & Answers (Q&A)

List of possible questions you’re likely to be asked in any sort of interview. Make sure it’s tight and all answers reflect key messages.


Media Value

Very, very rough guide for calculating estimated advertising value of a published story. Poor PR companies use this “industry-standard” measure to falsely inflate the value of the work they do. To work it out, you need to know the cost of a full-page advertisement in the publication divided by the percentage of the editorial space given to your published feature. Or rather, take any number between 1 and infinity, times it by any other number between 1 and infinity, and then times the result by 100 dollars. Voila!



Sub-site hosted separately to the company’s main web site, often to allow development centred on a single product and presented in a way that is unique from the main site.



The publishing of information by media outlets which is either incorrect or presented in such a way that it may be perceived in a way that is different to what the person making the statement intended.



Paying a company or individual to complete or take control of specific tasks or duties. Big companies outsource their PR to public relations companies, who in turn outsource their event management tasks to event management companies; it’s rather like a crippling expensive waltz.


PDF format

Handy document format for PRs as it enables images and text to be combined and “set”, so partners and clients can review content and make notes but cannot change the information; ideal for PR contracts, but also perfect for editors to send to interviewees for fact-checking purposes (again, journalists, please do this!).



A word of dual meaning in publishing, as print articles are “set in stone” once printed, and subsequent to this, have a long “coffee table life” or half-life.



The act of giving selflessly; or, from a PR perspective, a common means of adding credibility to the marketing activities of a company or individual.


Positioning statement (or personal positioning statement)

A short statement from a company or individual indicating the way it/he/she wishes or aims to be perceived by the market.


PR plan

A detailed document containing a written and graphically represented strategy of how the company or individual intends to use public relations in order to achieve their goals. The plan will typically contain a calendar of events presented in graphical format which outlines what is to happen, when and where, and how forthcoming events and activities will support the overall PR strategy. Don’t worry, we’ll look at this later.


Preparatory (communications)

The holding statement is a pro-active document, not a reactive one. It is produced in anticipation of the media contacting us for a response on a crisis story, and is NOT for general release (such as we would issue a press release or official response).


Press release

Official public relations announcement given to media organisations to declare one or a number of developments within a company (or by an individual).


Press release format

The layout of essential text, marking and composite elements which make up a press release. Releases are less likely to be dismissed when adhering to the accepted industry format.


Print delay

Number of days between the magazine closing its doors for content (“close the issue”) and the final published magazine being run at the printers.


Relevance (in communications)

In the case of PR, the appropriateness of communications to their intended audiences.


Second channel

The handy and potentially lifesaving backchannel, or “second chance to correction,” familiar to anyone who has watched Thirteen Days.


Sentence case

A typing (caps) style whereby only the first letter of the sentence is capitalised; the rest of the sentence is lower case. As the name implies, this is the usual caps style we use to prepare written sentences. Typically, only people’s names, titles, company names or product names are capitalised. This explanation has been written in sentence case, for example.


Small Medium Enterprise (SME)

Small to medium-sized companies which typically employ less than 200 people group-wide. SMEs can operate in any business sector. They are typically more agile than larger organisations but have less capital to support their growth or development. Staff within SMEs typically have to cover a wider range of business roles, as opposed to larger organisations which would have people or teams assigned to very specific roles.



Unwanted emails from people you don’t know. Formerly, they were from people in Lagos offering you free money; now they seem to all be about Delhi-based SEOs.



Turning negative facts or news into a positive (or at least defensible) response, often achieved by purposely deflecting the course of conversation or deliberately altering the point of focus.



A single point of contact appointed to act as the media reference person for the management of this particular crisis. Note that it may be different from the person normally designated to handle media communication on a day-to-day basis, depending on the individual’s specific product knowledge, complaint-handling ability or visibility/reputation in the local media.


Star power (media magnetism)

The value that a person, event or object has in terms of attracting media attention to it or its activities. A factory open day event may not be very interesting, but if the US Ambassador will be there for photo opportunities, then so will the media. It’s that simple.



A relationship in which both members simultaneously need or benefit from the partnership with the other member (who is likewise co-dependent).



In terms of media, the reprinting of content in different territories by affiliates (or different business divisions) of a publishing house.


Unique selling points (USP)

The stand-out things that make your product or service special, different, important, superior or novel in the marketplace.

Please visit our latest automotive blog, Just Drive Asia, for road tests, reviews, automotive news and auto lifestyle happenings across ASEAN and Asia Pacific







Have you had any experience with Choi Heo yogichoi (초희 Korean #yogichoi) ? We want to hear from you!  Please share your story at

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