Today we are largely a local firm. A brief scan of our current prospect list on a global basis shows that 76 per cent of our current leads involve single offices, 11 per cent involve multiple offices in one country and the balance are split equally between multi-country, regional and global.
If we look at the leads from their anticipated project value, the percentages do not change the stark reality that we are a local firm with international offices. The evidence is reinforced by an analysis of our blog, Collective Conversations. It shows that posts from contributors around our network are very local in content. Almost all relate to stories in local news. Digital and social media posts tend to focus on trends that we are seeing globally, but the post is almost always spurred by a local event. As always there are some exceptions but the evidence is clear: if we want to glocalize (as I talked about in my last post), we have a long way to go.
So what can we do about it that doesn’t just create a centralized bureaucracy that tries to hammer change through command and control from the top? One simple place to start is with our clients. Our global chairman, Jack Martin, recently appointed Vivian Lines from Singapore to Global Vice Chairman, Worldwide Head of Client Service. Under Viv’s leadership we are moving to elevate the importance of global clients by appointing global account managers. While our clients procure locally, there is a thirst for the sharing of global best practices and insights that give our clients competitive advantage. By appointing global account leads we can hold these people accountable for growing business organically by sharing our best ideas and raising the bar on the quality of our local advice.
One tactical way for these global account managers to demonstrate value in key local markets would be by hosting an annual PR think tank session for senior clients and prospects. An “H&K Institute” would include compelling speakers from around our network (H&K and WPP). The focus would be on exclusive, executive development for our clients through workshops and panel discussions that would facilitate learning from other countries. Technology would be used to create a network of clients with whom we could follow up with content and ongoing events to keep them connected to us.
Speaking of technology, the next starting point in driving glocalization has to be through improved technology. Technology has surely been the driving force of globalization and it is an efficient way to bring together the best ideas and writings on issues from around the global network. We will be collectively smarter if we can capitalize on the insights of the whole company.
This is one reason why H&K Canada is piloting something called H&K Pulse, to ensure the content we produce has maximum impact. H&K Pulse is a permission-based marketing communications system that will allow us to connect with our B2B contacts through email, Twitter, Facebook, RSS, SMS or LinkedIn. Our clients, prospects and employees have different communications styles and needs. Some want quick, in the moment, easy-to-digest information via text message or Twitter. Others prefer monthly round up notes in email. Each uses social media differently, be it Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. H&K Pulse will allow us to engage people in our brand while ensuring they only get relevant information via their channel of choice. It also allows us to use our global network in a way that was never possible before, and be smarter than any single region could be on its own.
Another way we could be smarter locally is by rolling out products that have been successful in other parts of the empire. For example PSI, our sister company in the United States, has top-notch research products that can test communication messages and track the opinions of stakeholder groups. Once again H&K Canada is in the process of recruiting researchers who can help Canadian clients take advantage of these products. We are hoping to export similar products on stakeholder communication and community consultations to the rest of the network.
Going global does not have to mean command and control but it does mean better communication to lever our local learnings. I am pleased that H&K is wrestling with these issues because it is only through constant improvement that we will capitalize on the talent our company has to offer and to bring the best to our clients.
Authored by: Mike Coates