As the lift doors opened to the Edelman Hong Kong office I was relieved to see I was no longer the only girl in the group wearing three-inch heels. After four days and record breaking step counts I had found my people.
As an aspiring PR professional, I’m of course aware of Edelman’s reputation as one of the industry’s best and as a thought leader. Edelman Hong Kong Managing Director Adrian Warr, immaculately dressed in a navy tailored suit, commanded attention. But it was immediately clear he was a down-to-earth, quick witted guy keen to have a chat and soon made a bunch of undergraduate students feel just as important as his next client (he let slip it was a teleconference with a global financial brand).
Adrian’s personable approach gave us all a good understanding of the workplace culture present throughout Edelman. For Edelman, remaining independently owned, rather than part of a large holding group, meant the focus was solely on clients and employees, rather than having to balance this focus with the interests of shareholders and investors. Bearing the name of its founder, Dan Edelman, and now headed by President and CEO Richard Edelman, the firm encapsulates a feeling of family and gives a sense of belonging to all who walk through the doors.
Dan Edelman famously said, “we think differently from our competitors, which has enabled us to remain true to our entrepreneurial heritage and lead the way in redefining, expanding, and elevating the role that PR plays“. This vision is still evident in the work the Edelman team does today. In 2001, Edelman developed the Edelman Trust Barometer to indicate the level of trust in institutions across global markets. Currently, in its 16th year the barometer has cemented Edelman’s reputation as a global thought leader. One of the most interesting barometer findings was that the public often views CEOs as entities rather than humans. Responding to this finding can redefine how many corporations communicate with stakeholders and publics.
The study also focused on the level of employee engagement across global industries. Adrian emphasised the powerful role employees play in defining a company’s brand, image, and reputation. This is certainly reflected in Edelman itself, with the sense of family, fun, and community clear in the Hong Kong office. A foosball table is a good clue that this office is about fun as well as excellent work. Edelman also celebrates the personal and professional achievements in their employees’ lives – we saw photos of the Hong Kong team going to dress-up parties, celebrating wedding anniversaries, and doing community fundraising, such as Movember.
Our study tour group also had a presentation from corporate finance senior executive, Jennifer Tsui. Throughout my five years studying, I have overloaded my course in journalism and PR while also working full-time hours at one of Australia’s leading banks. I have been considering corporate, financial PR for quite some time and Jennifer’s presentation cemented these plans as a career path for me.
Jennifer spoke to us about her wildly successful campaign for ‘The 13’ hotel, which is launching in Macau this year. ‘The 13’ is redefining luxury hotels and this PR campaign effectively told the target public that ‘The 13’ is the world’s most luxurious hotel. With the hotel costing around $US1.4 billion (that’s around $US7 million per room) to build, I expect the nightly rate will be beyond me.
As Adrian Warr commented to us, “Edelman is focused on being bigger and better because we like doing it”. This visit has definitely inspired me to achieve great things. I left the Edelman Hong Kong office with a sense of belonging and in search of WiFi to submit my application to join the Edelman family.