One of Asia’s oldest independent PR agencies is also one of its lowest-profile, although - in truth - it probably should be less shy about touting its capabilities. Baldwin Boyle Group is one of Southeast Asia’s stronger strategic communications firms, with a focus on building, managing and protecting reputation that is somewhat unique amid the clutter of tactical-minded agencies in the region.
The firm was founded in New Zealand more than 30 years ago by director Brenda Baldwin a veteran of issues management assignments for corporates and national Governments. Baldwin is joined on the board by four other shareholders, all of whom are actively involved in the business. Public affairs veteran Greg Shand joined the group in 1986 to head its Singapore office, before returning to New Zealand in 1992 to lead corporate and marketing programme for several of New Zealand’s leading corporates.
Corporate PR expert Graeme McMillan joined BBG in 1991, after working for Air New Zealand and New Zealand Breweries, and has since held various senior postings, including leading BBG’s offices in Bangkok and Sydney. Kylie Taylor came onboard in 1992, and has worked in Singapore, Thailand, Japan and Australia, focusing on corporate communications and public affairs. Last, but not least, Louise Nicholson ran BBG’s New Zealand offices for nine years from 1994, before heading its Asian operations in Singapore and Thailand, eventually returning to New Zealand to resume her leadership of its HQ business.
In 2010, BBG promoted Jane Hardey to lead its Singapore office. Hardey joined the agency in 2007 from Text 100. BBG’s Singapore office was the scene of its most significant accomplishment of 2010: winning a strategic brief from Singapore’s Ministry of Information and the Arts (MICA) to help rethink Singapore’s international reputation. The win demonstrates BBG’s credentials in Singapore - is has been involved in several exercises of this nature since the 1980s - most notably in its 25-year tenure as Singapore Airlines’ PR AOR.
Other key clients include New Zealand dairy major Fonterra, Aldi Stores, Visa International, Queensland Sugar, Bangkok Bank, Randstad, True Telecommunications, Ballance Agrinutrients, New Zealand Financial Markets Authority, Eden Park Trust and Westpac.
The firm is noted for the length of its client relationships, which is likely to flow directly from the active participation of its board members at the strategic end of the business. BBG focuses on classic stakeholder management to help an organisation achieve its business goals, which has given it a particular edge in public affairs and corporate brand management. The firm works across media relations, community engagement, financial communications, government affairs, issues and crisis management, sustainability, brand building and marketing communications.
The last 12 months has seen BBG step up its efforts to help clients hone their issues identification and management processes - to better deal with business costs of poor issues management. In addition, internal comms was another area of focus.
Unsurprisingly, given its love of the background, BBG chooses not to talk about any specific client campaigns. Yet its success in the keenly-contested MICA pitch should offer ample evidence of its credentials. The agency handles work across the region from its four market offices. Singapore, in particular, works for clients in China and the Middle East, and BBG also taps a network of affiliate agencies.—AS