Joachim Klewes is a serial entrepreneur. He founded his first company straight out of university, convinced he could turn his experience as a student campaigning for the Social Democrats into a business. Later, after working briefly for Hill & Knowlton, he led a management buyout that created Kohtes & Klewes, which was to go on to become Germany’s largest public relations agency (and today, under the Pleon brand, one of the largest in Europe). After the sale of K&K to ad agency BBDO he created a management consultancy, k-brain, later integrated into Edelman, and another PR firm komm.passion, which he built organically and through acquisition into one of the largest in Germany.
But his entrepreneurial zeal is matched by his intellectual rigor. He has always seen public relations first and foremost as a consultancy business—Kohtes & Klewes was best known for its large-scale corporate reputation building assignments, its work organizational consulting and change management, its pioneering role in crisis and issues management, and its giant public sector campaigns—closer to management consulting than advertising.
In addition to his work in PR he continues to serve as an associate professor at the Freie Universitat in Berlin and is a founder partner of the opinion research institute com.X at Bochum University as well as a frequent writer, publisher and speaker on communications and management topics.
Since his return to Pleon, where he is currently a senior partner, he seems to have had more or less free rein to pursue his own individual passions. Thus, he has been a leader of the firm’s research into public relations measurement and evaluation—producing some cutting-edge work demonstrating the superior return-on-investment of PR compared to advertising and the business impact of reputation—and last year co-authored (with colleague Ralf Langen) a new book, Change 2.0, focused on the importance of employee engagement in accomplishing organizational change.
In addition to founding and managing several of his own firms, Klewes also spent several years as chief executive of the EMEA region operations of Edelman.