Bonkers for Honkers

by Talya Kaplan, Consultant

Published on
November 23, 2018

Never in a million years did I think I’d have the opportunity to work from one of the world’s most vibrant, energetic and chaotic cities. Hong Kong was truly an assault on the senses. From the sticky sub-tropical climate to stinky deep-fried tofu, the sights, sounds and soul of ‘Bonkers’ were like nothing I had experienced before.

On my first day in the FleishmanHillard office, I was welcomed graciously by Senior VP of Talent Development Zena Shum and the team, and whisked into client work right off the bat. I had the opportunity to develop a comprehensive media plan for an international insurance client to generate some positive press following a period of media scrutiny across its Asian markets. It was also on this day I was treated to a traditional Cantonese dim sum lunch, complete with jellyfish noodles and beef tripe (when in Rome!).

The following morning I was invited to attend a PRHK presentation by Fleishman President of Greater China Rachel Catanach. She spoke about the PR industry’s role in upholding strong ethical practices and creating a culture of ethical behaviours. It was interesting to observe the differences in Chinese culture from a business perspective, particularly the giving and receiving of gifts. We also discussed a series of ethical dilemmas as a group to test our thinking and to gain consensus on the moral high ground.    

As an international firm with touchpoints in most major cities, it was enlightening to hear from fellow Fleishman visitors throughout my stay about their thoughts on the industry. What became clear was similar trends are being experienced across the globe — newsrooms are shrinking, freelance journalism is on the rise and the public is growing increasingly sceptical thanks to ‘fake news’. I was also impressed by Fleishman’s ability to work collaboratively across borders and oceans, tapping into the diverse knowledge and experience the business has at its fingertips — language and culture is no barrier.  

Coming from Brisbane — an emerging Asia-Pacific hub — it was fascinating to speak with Senior VP James Dyson to learn more about the international media landscape and the team’s biggest and well-established fintech clients, including the likes of WeChat, China’s ‘app for everything’ which boasts more than one billion users. The sheer size and scale of clients in the Chinese market was mindboggling.   

Outside of work, I made the most of every opportunity to live like a local and experience Hong Kong for what it truly is — a unique and fantastic fusion of east and west.

A huge thank you to Rowland and the Fleishman team for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.