Duke moved to Hong Kong in Dec. last year, from South Africa, and we spoke to him about his experience working in Hong Kong’s PR industry.

Prospect Presents Duke Malan, Account Director, Corporate Affairs at FleishmanHillard Hong Kong

What are the biggest differences of working in the PR sector in South Africa vs Hong Kong?

Hong Kong has a unique intensity and rhythm that required some acclimatizing.  My metaphor for this adjustment is how quickly I went from wryly smiling when occupants in an elevator manically press the close door button (which is unheard of in my neck of the woods), to being one of those frantically pressing the close button!  

Similarly, from a professional perspective you need to quickly shift gears in order be in-step with the high octane nature of the PR industry in Hong Kong. 

In terms of reputation management, marketing communication best practice – there are no stark differences.  There is great work coming from around the world.

What are some of the key lessons from your time in Asia?

Working across multiple markets in Asia and with individuals from different backgrounds and world views, you relearn the importance of simplicity in communication.  For example, a figure of speech or cultural reference that you may think is universal probably isn’t.

What are you most excited about? 

It is exceptionally exciting to be part of a growing, dynamic Corporate Affairs team.  There is always a great sense of ownership when building something and we have a few big plans for 2016 and beyond.  Our nickname is the United Nations – we have someone from every continent on the team and in a complex, increasingly global village, bringing that diversity to bear is not only good for our clients but we learn from each other and have quite a bit of fun too. 

Which clients do you work on? 

One of the real privileges of working at an agency, which I have not done for seven years, is having the opportunity to work with dynamic organisations across multiple sectors - ranging from a prominent British luxury brand, an e-commerce powerhouse to a leading global insurance company, as well as ambitious challenger brands.

You have recently launched the Shared Impact Lab, can you tell us more about it?

Against the backdrop of a dramatic shift in society’s expectations of corporations where being an ethical, socially responsible organisation is demanded, a shared value approach recognises that companies can achieve a higher purpose while delivering higher performance. 

FleishmanHillard’s Shared Impact Lab is our point of view and approach to helping companies unlock the benefits of Shared Value initiatives.  Communications is vital part of the shared value innovation cycle, helping to create uncommon alliances, build community trust, public recognition and customer loyalty, and create opportunity for internal innovation.

Any other interesting projects on your desk? 

China has eclipsed the US as Africa’s largest trading partner and the growing China-Africa corridor of trade and cultural exchange is a compelling mega trend.  There are a number of Chinese and Asian companies looking to Africa for growth and equally a number of African corporations and countries looking to Chinese investment and consumers to accelerate their growth.  From a PR industry perspective the China-Africa corridor is largely uncharted waters and it is an exciting opportunity.

What can Africa teach Asia?

Africa and Asia are the last frontiers for significant growth and there are a number of lessons that can flow both ways.  One of those is innovation that stems from necessity in a developing market, which has applicably and can be scaled globally.  Take M-Pesa as an example, a Kenyan mobile money transfer innovation launched in 2007 to address the challenge of expanding access to financial services, credit and financial inclusion.  At the end of March 2015 there were in excess of 19.9 million active customers who used M-Pesa with over 3.4 billion transactions processed in a year in multiple African countries and in Europe. 


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