How to Establish & Manage a Scalable Agency With Terng Shing Chen

If someone asks me to maintain a list of the greatest human beings – I would definitely talk about Terng Shing Chen. It’s my privilege to have Terng Shing Chen on our #ChampsLifeSeries. He is the CEO and Founder of PR and content marketing technology startup SYNC. With over a decade of experience in public relations and content marketing, Terng Shing is combining traditional PR and content methods with automation technology to create a scalable agency. 

It’s time for Terng to share his amazing journey with our ChampsFam. 

Ashmal: Hi, Terng! It’s a great pleasure to have you on #ChampsLifeSeries. It would be great to start by telling our readers about your background? 

Thanks for having me on. I’ve been in PR and content for about 15 years now, working on the agency side and then switching over to gaming and healthcare. This has been mostly based in Singapore and I’ve done work across most of Southeast Asia and also in Bahrain as well.

I started SYNC about 4 years ago, because, after a decade of working for people and really getting into the startup scene, I saw a large gap in the market. There wasn’t a proper solution to the issues that most startups face.

Please tell us about SYNC, what services do you offer and what are your buyer personas?

SYNC PR is a public relations and content marketing startup that provides solutions catering to fast-growth companies. We are a 25 person strong team based in Southeast Asia and in India. 

We provide traditional PR services, but also digital marketing, content development, content strategy, training, and workshops, as well as SEO and social media management. Our goal is to build the foundation for a company’s growth and then be able to take advantage of that to grow the business quickly and cost-efficiently.

Our clients tend to be fast-growth startups and SMEs, but also larger businesses that are looking for agile agencies that understand the modern digital-first strategies. We tend to intertwine content, social and traditional PR into a single campaign because we’re focused on the outcome rather than trying to sell a specific service or product. 

Ashmal: As a CEO and Founder at SYNC, how do you differentiate your services from others?

This is a tough question, only because you need to understand where the industry is right now. Most agencies (not all) tend to sell services and intangibles rather than tying their success to business goals. For most of our clients, marketing and PR outcomes are binary – either it helped them grow or didn’t, and we understand that and are built to provide solutions that fit their needs.

Ashmal: How’s your journey with SYNC, how did you start? What were the significant challenges initially, and how did you overcome them? 

SYNC has been a journey unlike any other and I wouldn’t change anything. We faced a lot of issues at the beginning because we were testing out a lot of hypotheses and taking risks. Most of them didn’t work and it always left us struggling to ensure we didn’t put our clients at risk, and that usually meant foregoing profit to ensure we do right by our clients and partners.

One of the biggest challenges we faced was actually getting clients to buy into our new model of pegging our campaign success to their business success. There was a lot of education to get them to view PR and content in a new light. 

Ashmal: SYNC is one of the trusted agencies; our readers would like to know about the thought process before suggesting any solutions and what are your plans to make it more innovative?

This is a great question. We try to look for what’s right rather than what’s most valuable. We turn down a lot of potential customers who seek us out because it just doesn’t make sense for them to spend money working with us when we most likely be able to help them grow their business the way that they want. 

The process isn’t revolutionary rather than just extremely simple – we focus purely on how we can add the most value to our customers. That’s it – innovation comes when we spot a gap in our services or the market that we cannot really fill. Then we try to build a solution that works to fill that gap and that’s how we built a lot of our internal processes and products.

Ashmal: You are also a Co-Founder at Business Over Drinks – what is the idea behind it? And, to be honest I would love to be a part of it one day. 😉

The podcast is becoming very popular and sure we’ll definitely get in touch with you down the line to set something up. We’ve got a huge backlog of content to put out in the coming months. 

Business over Drinks was started by co-host David Bobis and myself at the start of the pandemic out of sheer boredom. It was never meant to be anything other than a fun way to make fun of each other, our friends, and maybe discuss some interesting topics. This evolved into a platform that has thousands of listeners and viewers, which is still really surprising. I think it is probably because we didn’t plan it out, it became what it is through us just being ourselves and focusing on having a great conversation with whoever joins us.

Ashmal: Could you please share some growth hacking strategies you have applied to unleash the massive audience?

Another good question that I will do my best to answer. 

We’ve done very limited advertising, almost zero, and focused on building great content. That’s because podcasts are growing in popularity and the pandemic was a catalyst for the platform as a whole. 

However, what we did that worked really well was explore social platforms and through trial and error figure out how to ‘hack’ into that community. One of our newest and fastest-growing platforms has been TikTok with some of our videos getting thousands of views and we’re just getting started right now. In fact, check us out on any of the platforms by searching ‘business over drinks’ and we pop up first.

Ashmal: Do you think social media post engagement is difficult and how one can improve it for their business?

Yes, social media engagement for posts is really difficult. The only platforms that don’t restrict access too much is TikTok and to some extent, LinkedIn. 

To improve, I think businesses and people need to realize it is a marathon rather than a sprint. Building great content is a must and there are no shortcuts to that. If you don’t have a great budget focus on building content that would engage yourself, as if you are your own customer. I tend to follow what I would want to see as a business owner rather than what’s trending and a hot topic. Notice I haven’t mentioned NFTs or the metaverse even once. 

Ashmal: What sort of advice you would give to young entrepreneurs and what things can motivate them? 

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Every successful entrepreneur I know has made more mistakes than they can remember and it doesn’t matter. Always learn from them and then move on. 

Ashmal: What’s the biggest motivation of your life? It would be great if you could also share success stories and awards?

This is probably the toughest question because I do not have a good answer that would make a great sound bite. My biggest motivation would probably be the fear of having to work for someone else again and that is enough to get me up and at it bright and early to ensure my business continues to grow.

Ashmal: It would be great if you give us a quick walk of your office and workstation. 

We all work from home and my workstation is either a cafe, park, home balcony, or anywhere with a WiFi connection. I’ve completed proposals in the airport and approved media materials in taxis while halfway around the world.
Terng Shing Chen - Workstation

Ashmal: How one can build good leadership qualities? Please share your experiences.

Open communication and an open mind are two key skills, which I feel all great leaders have in common. Communication doesn’t have to be solely verbal, but even ensuring that you practice what you preach and are open to change is critical to ensuring your team understands you.

One of my least favorite bosses had a trait of saying one thing but acting completely opposite. It left a sour taste in my mouth knowing that I wasn’t seen as an equal nor afforded even the basic respect that you should have for someone.

Ashmal: Stepping aside from work, how do you enjoy your free time? Any particular activity that might fascinate our readers.

I used to travel, which I hope to kickstart again in the near future. I also enjoy reading a lot and I am getting into audiobooks as well.

Probably my most interesting hobby or ‘thing’ that I enjoy is trying out new alcohols. Not cocktails per se, but I enjoy trying out new gins and whiskeys.

Ashmal: It’s time for rapid-fire!

Rapid Fire Round 

What’s your favorite social media network?Instagram.
Speaker or ConsultantConsultant
Tea or Coffee?Tea all-day
Traveling or Watching a movie?Travel, I actually started a travel platform with a friend called Travel Wanderlust
Picture of Ashmal Ur Rehman

Ashmal Ur Rehman

Ashmal is the Senior Community Manager at Social Champ. He loves helping out business owners, merchants, and developers in establishing and maintaining online businesses. In addition, he is often busy interacting with the social media community and figuring out integration tactics for emerging tech. When not working, you could find him playing COD & CS GO. Feel free to contact him at [email protected]

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