Ken Hong | Influence 100
Charting the future of public relations

Ken Hong

Sr. Director Global Communications

A popular figure on the global PR circuit, Ken Hong has overseen a transformation in LG Electronics’ public profile since taking on global communications leadership almost a decade ago. That has included the launch of the LG-One WPP unit, which handles the Korean giant’s global PR duties, which has helped to drive particularly strong results for the company at key trade shows such as CES and Mobile World Congress. The past year also saw Hong support the launch of LG’s first ever premium brand in North America and Europe, and the critical reorganization of LG’s offices in Europe.

Prior to LG, Hong spent numerous years agency-side, at MSL and Weber Shandwick - in China, Thailand and Hong Kong - giving him a unique perspective on the challenges that face Asian brands.

Can you share a moment in your career that you recognized PR's direct impact on business performance?
Never. Comms should not be expected to have a direct impact on business. It's this kind of expectation that I have worked to dispel my entire life. If comms alone was directly responsible for a specific business outcome, I've never seen it. It's always a combination of various marketing and communication disciplines and usually over time. Rarely overnight.

What are the industry's biggest challenges and opportunities? 
Getting past media relations and counting clippings. Even "impressions" is a poor way to calculate comms' actual effect on business. EVERYONE needs to invest in proper comms measurement and stop expecting it to be a free part of the campaign.

How do you handle the unexpected?
I use the experience I've accumulated to formulate solutions that are based on realistic expectations and what I can actually influence. Even if unexpected, 80 percent is familiar. I just focus on the new 20 percent.

How do you relax?
Take long, brisk walks, go to the movies and engage in the latest FPS on my personalized gaming PC.

Book/movie/TV show/podcast that teaches a valuable lesson about PR?
The best PR books aren't about PR but about psychology. I enjoy Stephen Dubner on the Freakonomics podcast and Malcolm Gladwell books although I don't take everything Gladwell writes as facts but more as learnings.

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
A traveling YouTuber foodie.