What does it mean to be a global, yet authentic communicator? How does a company unify its brand with its reputation? What does it mean to hone in on customer desire and deliver? As Thomas Friedman noted in his book, The World Is Flat, globalization has created a world of interconnectedness through digital technology. As a result, companies must make their brand meet the expectation of customers. To simply put it, globalization has reshaped how individuals holistically understand and interact with an organization.
In order to understand how communication practitioners globally stride to connect and integrate reputation with brand positioning, I had the privilege to visit one of the world’s top public relations and marketing agencies, FleishmanHillard Korea. During a round table conversation with top directors, mangers, and account executives with FleishmanHillard Korea agency, myself, along with my classmates were provided keen insight into the company’s philosophy, information on domestic and global clients, integrated communication campaigns, and how the company drives authenticity within a brand.
With over 80 offices worldwide and 2,500 employees, FleishmanHillard is a multinational company making its mark within the marketing and public relations world. A few of the top clients for FleishmanHillard Korea include, Mars, AT&T, Samsung, GlaxoSmithKline, SK, and Hyundai. FleishmanHillard Korea works on a wide range of initiatives from global issue management, brand positioning, overseas reputation, public affairs, and FleishmanHillard Korea works with offices within the Asia area on a wide variety of initiatives.
“This above all: to thine own self be true”
So, what does it mean to be true? According to FleishmanHillard Korea’s Managing Director Yvonne Park the company’s philosophy, “power of true,” is the forefront principal in which the company guides all operations and a source of pride in which the firm believes for its client and employees. In addition to the true concept being at the core of all driven communication and marketing practices, the philosophy speaks to the ethics and commitment that the agency holds for its clients. More importantly, the power of true notion embodies everything that the company strides to be and is. As FleishmanHillard Korea enters into a more globalized society driven by technology, it is important to provide their clients with services that are comprehensive, innovative, transparent, and authentic. Therefore, building relationships with stakeholders through transparent dialogue and authentic communication redefines the mindset, definition, and art of communication and marketing.
Authenticity is the name of the game
In order to communicate more effectively to stakeholders from an authentic standpoint, FleishmanHillard developed the Authenticity Gap research, which bridges the gap for their clients to connect the brand with the reputation globally. The team at FleishmanHillard Korea explained that brand is what a company says about itself and how a company behaves. While reputation is what stakeholders say about the company based on shared beliefs and experiences. In order to connect brand with reputation, FleishmanHillard conducts research that outlines its authenticity drivers of three core areas: management behavior, customer benefits, and society outcomes. The three core areas have nine behaviors consumers said that were important to them in the perception of an organization. Once the data is collected, FleishmanHillard can assess an organization authenticity gaps and build communication and marketing efforts that create synergy and connect to stakeholder’s desires. The FleishmanHillard Korea team stated that building the corporate narrative for authentic engagement is important in successfully meeting the demands of people expectations and delivering on the brand promise.
All the world’s a stage…so, communicate!
FleishmanHillard Korea explained one that the agency was tasked to communicate and promote the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) to the citizens South Korea. NSS 2012 was held in Seoul, South Korea and one of the top issues that plagued the event was the disinterest among the general public. The NSS was attended by 53 heads of state and four international organizations. The NSS was the largest global event to discuss international collaboration against nuclear terrorism. Therefore, FleishmanHillard Korea created an integrated communication campaign to raise public interest in nuclear security in a positive way, while conveying the importance to the conference. FleishmanHillard Korea’s strategy was integrated with infusing key messages into the public consciousness.
In order to tackle this issue of public disinterest, FleishmanHillard Korea developed the theme of “peace summit.” Within this campaign theme, the agency created a music video and with a song performed by a Korean pop star to boost interest. The peace song music video featured ordinary Korean citizens to add in an emotional appeal for the NSS. The firm also enlisted Korean celebrities as public relations ambassadors to give the summit a familiar context and relatable understanding. Next, the agency recruited volunteers of all ages from the general public to act as e-reporters. The summit garnered interest from over 4,000 journalists worldwide and garnered positive media coverage newspapers, magazines, television, radio, social media, and government channels. The overall campaign raised public awareness with Korean citizens and used the world as a platform to inform and communicate.
Having the opportunity to meet with forefront thinkers of the integrated communication world was an experience that combined my knowledge from in a real time setting.