The first in an irregular series where we collect the views of Hong Kong’s agency heads.
Can you please give us a quick overview of the type of work your agency does and the clients you do it for in Hong Kong?
Our work is evolving rapidly, with a markedly heavier dose of creative, digital and integrated campaigning in the mix today. We continue to have a firm bedrock of government, international corporate and issues-related clients, and an amazing diversity of clients. Given Hong Kong’s close proximity to Shenzhen, it’s no surprise that innovative international tech companies represent one focus area for us.
What are your plans for the agency over the next 3-5 years?
Following the very positive merger that created Burson Cohn & Wolfe in early 2018, we have a great opportunity in Hong Kong to build our business rapidly by delivering truly integrated campaigns across all business sectors. The merger has been the perfect marriage of complementary strengths; with Burson’s deep history and experience with public affairs and crisis management and Cohn & Wolfe’s pioneering mastery of digital and integrated communications. We’ve already seen a surge of interest from clients and prospective employees, and my job is to ensure we capitalize on this.
What does that mean for the people you need to hire and services you need to provide?
The drive to hire different skills was well underway prior to our merger, and has accelerated with the creation of BCW. We have a much greater focus today on deep digital and integrated comms skills, but not exclusively – we’re always on the lookout for smart, ambitious, internationally minded and media savvy people.
What’s your view on the Hong Kong market for communications? What are the opportunities? What are the threats?
The Hong Kong comms market is very well positioned for long-term growth. It remains a focal point for companies expanding into and out of Mainland China, and the cultural exchange between East and West. Given China’s consumer economy is set to drive global economic growth for decades to come, the communications market in Hong Kong should benefit – and has momentum to overcome short-term bumps in the road.
What advice would you give to people looking to get into or just starting out in the Hong Kong PR industry?
Develop and maintain a distinctly diverse media ‘diet’ – you can never read and learn enough in our industry, and few people come close. A broad world-view greatly enhances your value whether in-house or in agency.
What are the most useful skills for a modern-day PR?
Writing remains high up the list of course – albeit in shorter form. Analytical skills are increasingly important, and particularly the ability to interpret data. But let’s not forget the human element of PR – a high EQ is just as important as ever, and perhaps more so.
What, if any, life experiences have shaped your approach to PR?
I worked in Kenya for a year or so at one point in my career, and it’s a country I love to this day – despite being car-jacked whilst returning home with a takeaway pizza one evening. My experience taught me two important life lessons though: 1) whatever crisis you’re dealing with, keep perspective, don’t panic, and stay positive and: 2) you wouldn’t believe the lengths people go to steal pizza.