PRSummit: Should PR Be Centralized Globally?
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PRSummit: Should PR Be Centralized Globally?

Whether to centralize PR and the role of external agencies emerged as the two drivers in defining the new rules of global communications at the Global PR Summit 2013.

Aarti Shah

MIAMI — Whether to centralize PR and the role of external agencies emerged as the two drivers in defining the new rules of global communications at the Global PR  Summit 2013.

The session on building a global brand in the digital era, led by Lewis PR’s Morgan McLintic, featured Stephen Forshaw, MD of corporate affairs at Temasek Holdings; Stéphanie Saissay, head of comms and social media at Adobe; Andrea Fuller, director of global communications at Recommind; and Emma Keates, PR manager at Unit4.

“Centralizing PR and social is crucial for consistency - centralizing the budget works for us,” Recommind’s Fuller said, adding that managing budgets was too time-consuming for local managers.

Adobe’s Saissay pointed out that “even what you create locally, can go global” making it crucial to retain intelligence and strategic direction at the local level.

When it comes to the role of agencies, the panel splintered. 

“I want the ideas to come from us [versus agencies] -- I want our people thinking of creative ideas without budget,” Temasek Holdings’ Forshaw said. “There’s a complementary point-of-view that agencies bring. Because of their broad view across a wide range of clients, they can help with new ideas and processes.”  

Fuller countered -- Recommind’s quick growth and analytical mindset drives the PR team to rely heavily on on agencies to generate ideas. She added, the company has successfully tapped into external bloggers for content.

Forshaw took the agency discussion to measurement, noting that ad value equivalency “must die.” But agencies should put more focus on objectives and outputs, rather than number of hours when negotiating budgets.

When it comes to standardizing content across regions, Unit4’s Keates says the global PR hub provides templates for regions, to balance localized content with consistency. While the teams at Unit4 report into country managers, she expects centralizing the PR function will become more standard.  

Adobe’s 15-person global social media team sits in the US -- and its largest investment recently has been around measurement. Most of its content is generated internally.

“We do 75% of our marketing online, so social plays a big role,” Saissey said.

Forshaw added, when it comes to content he’s looking to make Temasek Holdings “more human.”

“In doing so, you’re sending a signal to the market that’s you’re a good company,” Forshaw said. 

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