“Go the Blues” is not the greeting a room full of Queenslanders expect to hear in Hong Kong on the day before the State of Origin decider. But General Manager of Edelman Hong Kong (HK) Andrew Kirk (Kirky) is a committed Blues supporter and keen to let us know. At our second last industry visit for the study tour, Kirky, originally from the New South Wales mid coast, managed to keep a room of Maroons supporters captivated for more than two hours with his energy, insight and passion for the public relations industry and as part of the leadership team in Asia for Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm with more than 5,500 employees in 65 cities.
Kirky describes Edelman president and CEO, Richard Edelman as one of the top thinkers in communication and business. Across Edelman, there is a focus on what Richard Edelman describes as “communications marketing”, centred around the three pillars of Evolve, Promote, and Protect. For a great summary of these concepts, I recommend reading Richard Edelman’s speech from late 2014 when he was inducted into the Arthur Page Society Hall of Fame.
For Edelman HK, this transition to a communications marketing focus will include the addition of ten new staff, in roles such as creative director and media planner, to join its existing 65 staff. Most of the staff at Edelman HK are multi-lingual, fluent in three or even four languages. In terms of work, Edelman HK handles a long and impressive list of local and global clients, including Starbucks, Dairy Farm International which owns or operates an impressive stable of retail brands across Asia including IKEA and 7-Eleven, and one of the world’s largest internet companies Tencent.
Kirky gave the group a fascinating perspective on Edelman’s work partnering with a number of companies in Hong Kong and China, often taking these brands globally. It was interesting to hear some of the challenges of working with Chinese brands to navigate media landscapes globally.
Kirky also led us through the Edelman Trust Barometer, its annual global study on trust, and a study that’s included in a number of our PR classes at QUT. We were also lucky to hear from Arun Mahtani, Chief Content Officer for Edelman Asia Pacific, who showed us some amazing examples of storytelling and great content creation for a number of brands. And Stefanie Page, for a time a Queenslander, shared her journey to working at Edelman HK.
With a growing office in one of the most connected cities in the region and an expanding client list, Edelman HK has some exciting years ahead. I hope Kirky does not hold the 52-6 Origin win against us Queenslanders, as many of us are planning a return visit to Edelman HK, hopefully to join the Edelman team!
Kirky’s tips for getting a PR role in Hong Kong:
- Take the leap! Save up your money and move to Hong Kong. An email saying you’re thinking about a move to Hong Kong doesn’t have the same impact as an email saying you’ve made the leap and committed to moving.
- Learn an Asian language (remember that most of Edelman HK staff speak three or four).
- Work in Australia for a global firm with an office in Hong Kong. It doesn’t guarantee a transfer, but it’s a good start.