Agency Profile: Ruder Finn Asia

Agency Profile: Ruder Finn Asia

Telum is looking to highlight the diverse and vibrant agencies in the Southeast Asian PR agency landscape in upcoming editions of our PR Alert. We want to encourage networking, business opportunities, and to celebrate the great initiatives being worked on around the region. If you'd like your agency to be featured, get in touch.

What services does the agency offer? 
With over 800 professionals located around the world, we’re a team of strategists, writers, creatives, technologists and storytellers. Our work is a blend of science and art: data-driven, inspirational with results at its centre. Our services cover research, strategy, digital, social, web, content and media, and our clients include the world’s leading corporations and brands.

Recently named 2020 Regional Network of the Year by Public Affairs Asia, Ruder Finn Asia (RFA) is the Asia-Pacific division of the global independent communications consulting firm, Ruder Finn. We help our clients reshape the way they do business, go to market and communicate with the people that matter most. 

Where does your agency have an office? 
Uniquely co-headquartered in China and the USA, we have Ruder Finn offices in Bangalore, Beijing, Chicago, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Hyderabad, Kuala Lumpur, London, Mumbai, New Delhi, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Singapore and Washington DC, as well as affiliate partners located around the globe.

Do you have a particular area of focus? 
Over the past two years, RFA’s business has been re-engineered to pre-empt emerging market trends. At the heart of this change is the creation of an entirely new Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) function and a 360-degree approach to client engagements. The IMC model sees our team offering clients the complete arc of strategy, web, digital, online, social media and advertising capabilities for clients. With heavy investment in tailor-made research capabilities, we always ensure our client campaigns are data-driven first and accelerated by a strong creative approach. 

From professional services to luxury consumer products, our expertise spans a wide variety of sectors and has further evolved into specialised offerings such as our Sonar Crisis Simulation platform and our new Marcom Measurement System to better meet market demands and serve our clients’ needs across Asia.

Who is the founder and why did they start the agency? 
Founded in 1948 by David Finn and Bill Ruder, Ruder Finn is one of the world's largest independent global communications and creative consultancies. As David elaborates, “Our 65+ year history gives us the creative energies and imaginative forces to shine a light on problems and discover new possibilities that unify people toward a common solution.”  

Our historic beginnings still play a strong role in our current operations today as our Global CEO, Kathy Bloomgarden, is the daughter of founder David Finn.

Tell us about the leadership team.
Our Asia-Pacific leadership team is diverse and led by Elan Shou. She believes communications should be as rigorously measured as sales, finance or any other core business function. With Elan’s leadership, RFA has stayed strong throughout the pandemic and Elan was selected as PR Awards Asia 2020 Agency Head of the Year.

Other key members of our Asia-Pacific leadership team include:
  • Charles Lankester, EVP, Global Reputation and Managing Director, Hong Kong
  • David Ko, SVP and Managing Director, Ruder Finn Interactive
  • Gao Ming, SVP and Managing Director, Greater China Luxury Practice
  • Atul Sharma, Managing Director, Ruder Finn India
  • Tony Dong, SVP and General Manager, Shanghai
  • Brian Witte, Vice President and Deputy General Manager, Singapore
  • Elya Eusoff, General Manager, Malaysia
What is next for your agency? What is the five-year goal? 
When looking towards the future we want to stay agile and continue to meet the growing needs of our clients. Our global team recently launched a new analytics-driven content marketing offering that will help clients develop cross-platform branded content that builds deeper consumer relationships and brand affinity.

RFA teams are also supported to professionally commit to the causes they believe in, and this past year has led us to reflect even further on our impacts and ways we can give back. Over the next five years we hope to grow the list of causes we support, recent notable causes we’ve supported include:
  • Supporting equality as the pro bono agency for HK Marriage Equality.
  • Giving back as the pro bono agency for Bridge the Gap, a project dedicated to funding underfunded NGOs because of COVID-19’s economic impact.
  • In June 2020 RF China launched their first-ever internal fundraising campaign “Workout for our Future,” aimed at helping educate children on pandemic prevention.
In a sentence, describe your ideal relationship with a journalist. 
We’re grateful for journalists and their ability to amplify voices that transform how we live and work, our ideal relationship is one of mutual respect, authenticity and trust.

Tell us about a campaign you are currently working on or are particularly proud of. 
NAFA Virtual Open House. RF Singapore launched Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA)’s very first Virtual Open House in Singapore. Amid the need to go virtual due to social distancing restrictions, we focused efforts on being smart with targeting the right audiences through the right platforms, highlighting NAFA’s key strengths and dynamic curriculum through storytelling, profile features and more. The campaign has reached more than 7.5 million unique people and garnering more than 41 million impressions from 6 countries (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar and India). 

Any key PR trends your agency is keeping an eye on?
2020 saw the publication of the ninth edition of the Ruder Finn China Luxury Forecast. We’ll soon be releasing our 2021 Luxury Forecast which will delve even deeper into the impacts of the pandemic on the luxury market, something we are eagerly following. 

As new communications technology comes available, our digital service offerings continue to expand. Globally we are exploring emerging tech in social listening, AI, voice and VR/AR. Ruder Finn is recognised as the first communications consultancy added to Amazon’s official list of preferred agencies and experienced Alexa skill builders. 

We’ll also continue to grow our research capabilities and share our wealth of knowledge. Launched in late 2020, our Global Leadership Hub shares best practices on communicating and leading better through the pandemic from Ruder Finn global leaders.

What skillsets do you look for in new hires?
Our unique culture of pursuing what’s next is built on the following values:
  • Individuality, the more points of view the better.
  • Hunger, for knowledge as well as for achievement.
  • Experimentation, because you’re never really taking risks if you never fail.
  • Nonhierarchical, we put excellence before seniority.
  • Listening, great thinking starts with hearing what’s possible.
  • Independence, it gives us the freedom to pursue what’s next.

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