Bud Communications strengthens APAC presence with Australian expansion

Bud Communications, a PR and content agency, has set up shop in Australia to strengthen its regional capabilities across Asia Pacific (APAC). The agency will focus on providing both strategic public relations and content creation services, designed to maximize the impact of earned, owned, and paid media channels to help businesses expand their audience reach.Leading the Australian charge is Richie Kenzie, who has been appointed as the country manager for Bud Communications. Kenzie brings a wealth of experience from senior editorial and strategic roles at major publishers and content agencies. He's tasked with spearheading Bud's growth in Australia and driving success for clients in the region."We're entering the Australian market with a clear vision and unwavering commitment to our core values: creativity, integrity, and collaboration," said Kenzie. "Australia is a breeding ground for innovative and dynamic brands, and we're thrilled to partner with them to amplify their stories and achieve exceptional results."Oliver Budgen, founder and CEO of Bud Communications, emphasized the strategic importance of Australia: "Our core mission is to empower founders, leaders, and visionaries who are transforming industries or creating entirely new ones. Australia has always been a key market for our existing clients, so opening an office here feels like a natural and significant step."Since its launch in Singapore in 2020, Bud Communications has established itself as a go-to agency for challenger brands seeking to make a splash. This expansion into Australia builds upon their existing presence in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia, where they have a team of 15.The agency has also been bolstering its leadership team. Last September, Patricia Malay joined as Client Services Director and Urvashi Raizada as Content Director, both based in Singapore and reporting directly to Budgen. These appointments further solidify Bud Communications' commitment to growth across APAC.Previously, Malay served as Deputy Managing Director at BCW Global, where she oversaw new business development and client acquisition. She also held various leadership roles at FleishmanHillard, including Global Director for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.

Foreign PR Retreat: Strategic Misstep in India and China?

Authored by Bhaskar Majumdar, Head - Marketing Communication, Digital and CSR, Egis South Asia and originator of CommsAdda.In recent developments that have sent ripples across the public relations industry in Asia, prominent PR agencies like Ketchum Sampark have initiated significant layoffs and are winding down operations in pivotal markets such as India and China. This strategic retraction by global giants has not only impacted the employees but also disrupted the service continuum for numerous clients. Let’s look into why these firms, despite their global prowess, are struggling in these fast-growing markets and the broader implications for all stakeholders involved.Ketchum, a titan in the PR industry, has faced daunting challenges in maintaining its operational footprint in China and India. These markets are characterized by their unique cultural, economic, and media landscapes, which often require localized knowledge and a nuanced approach to business practices and client relations. Ketchum's decision to acquire local firms like Sampark in India and form alliances like Newscan in China initially seemed to pave the way for deeper market integration. However, navigating the complex business environment in these countries demands more than just a presence; it requires a holistic understanding of local consumer behaviour, media relations, and regulatory frameworks.Recent news stories highlight that Ketchum is laying off most of its workforce in China and India, incorporating the remaining staff and clients into its sibling agency FleishmanHillard. This move suggests a consolidation strategy aiming to cut losses and streamline operations. Despite this drastic measure, Mike Doyle, Ketchum's global CEO, assured that the brand would continue serving the markets through the Omnicom network, indicating a shift in strategy rather than a complete exit.However, such consolidations are often seen as a last resort when profitability is under severe pressure. Factors contributing to these pressures include Understanding the Indian market is essential for effective public relations due to its diversity in languages, cultures, burgeoning startup ecosystem, and numerous other factors influencing business viability. Acquiring insights into 'Bharat', representing the heartland of India, is particularly crucial for navigating this dynamic landscape. Another key factor is fierce competition from homegrown agencies who possess inherent advantages in understanding domestic markets and client needs, as well as challenges in adapting global strategies to local contexts effectively. Additionally, the rapid evolution of digital media landscapes and public relations tools may have outpaced the traditional operational models of these international firms.Foreign consultancies often face higher operational costs due to their global standards and practices, which may not always align with local pricing dynamics. The pressure to deliver results comparable to their performance in Western markets can lead to misaligned business strategies that fail to resonate locally. Moreover, the entry strategy through acquisitions can sometimes backfire if the integration processes dilute the local firm’s strengths instead of building upon them.The contraction of firms like Ketchum in India and China profoundly impacts various stakeholders, leaving a significant void across multiple dimensions of the PR industry. First and foremost, the layoffs engender immediate job losses, casting a shadow of uncertainty over the future career paths of numerous affected employees. While the transition of remaining personnel to FleishmanHillard might offer some semblance of continuity, the integration process is often riddled with challenges. These can range from issues of cultural fit within the new organization to substantial adjustments in roles and responsibilities, potentially complicating what might already be a stressful period for these individuals.For clients of agencies like Ketchum, the impact is similarly disruptive. These businesses have depended on the established expertise and global reach of their PR agencies to guide their communications strategies and safeguard their corporate reputations. With the operational fold into FleishmanHillard, these clients could face interruptions that may affect the continuity of ongoing campaigns, disturb the established dynamics between client and agency, and misalign strategic objectives that were previously in place.The local PR industry faces its own set of challenges and opportunities from these international pullbacks. On one hand, the retreat of a global player like Ketchum could reduce competition, potentially freeing up market space for domestic firms. On the other hand, this contraction also reduces the diversity of professional PR services and global perspectives within the market. International firms often bring different approaches and a broader worldview that can spur innovation and elevate standards within the local industry.The market perception influenced by such high-profile exits cannot be underestimated. When international firms scale back their operations or exit markets like India and China entirely, it sends a potent message regarding the viability and attractiveness of these markets. Such moves might be interpreted as these regions being too challenging to navigate or not sufficiently profitable, potentially deterring future foreign investments in these sectors. This could have long-term implications for the economic landscape, affecting not just the PR sector but broader business activities in these vibrant markets.The retrenchment of Ketchum and similar entities calls for a reassessment of how global PR firms operate in culturally and economically diverse markets like India and China. Success in these markets requires firms to not only adapt their strategies but also deeply immerse themselves in understanding local nuances. For the PR industry in Asia, this could be a moment of introspection and perhaps an opportunity for local firms to rise and fill the gaps, leveraging their inherent market insights and cultural compatibilities.DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and does not necessarily subscribe to it.

Ketchum Sampark Restructures: Staff to Transition to FleishmanHillard

Ketchum Sampark is undergoing a strategic transition, with layoffs affecting staff in India and China. The remaining personnel and clients will be integrated into FleishmanHillard. Approximately 40 staff members in India and China are expected to be impacted by these changes.India MD, Rohan Srinivasan, will oversee the transition process for a period. Despite the restructure, sources suggest that the Ketchum Sampark brand may persist even after the transition to FleishmanHillard.Mike Doyle, Ketchum's president and CEO, explained the move as part of the company's growth and innovation strategy. He emphasized the importance of leveraging the Omnicom network and infrastructure to continue providing clients with exceptional service and global connectivity.Established in 1994, Ketchum Sampark initially specialized in financial services before being acquired by Omnicom's Ketchum in 2011. Founders Bela and NS Rajan retired from the company in 2021.This restructuring comes amid a period of growth for the Indian PR industry, although challenges such as flat retainers and talent shortages persist. Despite these obstacles, the industry has continued to show resilience, with double-digit growth reported in recent years.The transition underscores a collaborative effort between Ketchum Sampark and FleishmanHillard to provide clients with enhanced services and expertise in India's evolving PR landscape.

Stephanie Shelton Assumes EVP Role at Current Global Healthcare Division

Stephanie Shelton has recently assumed the role of Executive Vice President of Client Experience at Current Global's healthcare practice. In this capacity, she will play a pivotal role in enhancing The Weber Shandwick Collective and bolstering IPG’s healthcare business.With her extensive background, including her recent tenure as a senior partner at FleishmanHillard, Shelton brings valuable expertise to steer communication strategies for flagship pharmaceutical clients of both Current and IPG. Additionally, she will spearhead new business ventures and initiatives across various brands.Reporting directly to Global Chief Client and Growth Officer Renee Austin from the Chicago hub, Shelton's appointment signifies a strategic move to leverage her diverse skill set in traditional healthcare, corporate health, and consumer health domains.Austin emphasized Shelton's contributions, stating, "Stephanie adds a unique blend of traditional healthcare, corporate health, and consumer health experience to our team. Her wealth of experience in reputation management, awareness elevation, brand enhancement, and behavior change through impactful campaigns and integrated media strategies is invaluable."Shelton's arrival follows a successful five-year tenure at Fleishman, where she held the positions of Senior Vice President and Senior Partner. Prior to that, she served as Managing Director at W2O Group and spent nearly twelve years at Edelman, further enriching her expertise in the field.