Telum Talks To... Prince Zhang, CEO, Greater China, Ketchum
Telum spoke to Prince Zhang to hear about Ketchum's comms transformation in Greater China, the role of traditional PR in an increasingly digital environment and his advice to young PR practitioners.
One of your key roles is to transform Ketchum's integrated digital communications in Greater China, tell us more about this.
It’s my great pleasure to drive this transformation journey in such an important market for Ketchum Global. I joined the agency with a digital marketing background which is quite unique from other senior leaders in the PR industry. I tried to look at the business from a different perspective and helped bring in more digital talents and capabilities. My mission is to diversify our agency revenue stream and access a bigger pool of marketing budgets.
What role does traditional PR play in the Mainland China ecosystem which is increasingly digitally-focused?
I think traditional PR needs to evolve itself with the dominance of digital / social strategies in Mainland China’s communication environment. Obviously, PR responsibilities at the client-side have been extended and become more complex. International PR agencies should utilise their strength in media relations, strategic thinking and integration of resources.
What are some foreseeable challenges and opportunities for comms leaders in Greater China?
The dynamics of Greater China’s digital and social development push for comms leaders' refreshment of knowledge. We should enable ourselves to unleash innovation and transformation. Sometimes we need to overcome the old model and look for new ways of making money. The boundary of agencies is blurring. In some cases, communication agencies also need to compete with creative, media or social agencies. However, that opens the door to a new source of business for PR. On top of that, the mindset of consultative selling is becoming increasingly important for senior comm leaders.
How did your business development and sales experiences at Google and CNBC shape you at comms agencies' senior management roles?
I have benefited a lot from my experience in the media scene. I used to work with both traditional and digital media platforms. That shapes my competitive advantage of having a deep understanding of the characteristics of different media types and how to drive a better media partnership to amplify our key messages for our clients. That media experience also helped expand my client network.
What's your favourite campaign?
I love every piece of work for our clients. I’m so proud of my working team. There was a social marketing case we created for our client Continental Tires which received 2019 IN2SABRE Awards, Best Use of Visual Social Platforms. The Conti social campaign successfully attracted millions’ attention of car drives and led to a record-high consumer response received via Conti’s branded social channels, including both product enquiries and sharing of their own Conti stories.
What advice would you give to young PR practitioners in Greater China who wish to succeed in the industry?
I’m so lucky to work with lots of young PR colleagues in the Ketchum Greater China offices. They are very passionate about the PR industry and would be the rising stars of the agency. Here is my advice: they need to be forward-thinking and become quick learners of emerging platforms such as Red, Douyin, Kuaishou, Zhihu. There are lots of new opportunities there for young people to ride on. Nowadays, youth marketing has become a big topic for brands. With dual roles of PR professionals and young consumers, they have great strength to help a brand connect with Gen-Z by introducing a targeting content and channel strategy.