What does one of the world's best think of Australian creative?

Sun, Oct 30 2016

Anders Hult, co-founder and partner at Prime (a Weber Shandwick Company), the world number one ranked PR agency on both the 2010 and 2012 Cannes Report List, is coming to Australia in mid-November to speak at Communication Innovation, PRIA’s annual conference. With 20 Cannes Lions, 18, SABRE awards, 15 Eurobest and 6 CLIOs since 2010, it’s fair to say Prime is on a roll.

Hult is keen to share his insights gained building a PR agency of 160 staff, but also to discover just what Australia is talking about.

What will you bring with you to Australia? Why should local PR pros be interested in what a Swede has to say?

The not so humble answer I think - it could be interesting to hear how you can build a PR firm to 160 people in Sweden which is a really, really small market, and during the last ten years be the most awarded PR agency in the world.


What do you ascribe your success to?

When we started Prime, eighteen years ago, we were the first working on marketing related PR, which was new in Sweden at the time. Now of course, there are several very creative, well known and globally awarded PR agencies locally. We managed to do a new kind of communication that channelled independent thinking and creative ideas, and we also combined everything within the PR business. Our company has corporate communication, social media, public affairs, insight work, production, sustainability and the old fashioned trusted advisor business. That kind of offering to the market is unique in the European market.


How do you approach Sustainability as part of PR?

One example - if you’re a small company, or a big one, like Volvo, IKEA or Electrolux, you already have a solid sustainability program – but one thing you might not have is a way to dramatise that. We help with that.

Some companies also lack a long term strategy in the way they communicate what they do in their business, and also lack expertise within the legislative area, which is in constant flux in Sweden and the EU, so we must from time to time also help with their public affairs.

You have to cope creatively to keep up with the pace of legislative change. Otherwise you end up just doing a sustainability stunt that won’t cover what’s coming in 12, 24, 48 months.

The entire discussion of sustainability is growing so much that, in five to seven years there won’t be a sustainability group at Prime - because it will be completely integrated into everything we do.


What do you attribute your growth and success to?

Early on we tried to convince our clients to think as independently as they could. When we started, there was a lot of traditional PR work, but we were able to invest in strong ideas and insight work. The ideas we delivered to our clients always came with some kind of context, with some kind of discussion or trend that’s going on outside the company, inside society as a whole.

My advice – don’t just put the product out there, connect it with a trend, connect it with a conversation that is going on out there.

Now we try to do the same thing, but now we cover all channels, social media some advertising as well, and of course, video and so on.


How do you approach your work for global clients? Do you localise every segment, or go with a wider, one-size-fits all model?

When we do global work for global Swedish clients, we try to find a global narrative, otherwise it becomes too hard. Of course there is some adaptation of tone within local markets, but we must find a global discussion to tap into, otherwise it’s too expensive, too hard, and it’s not worth it. Then you have to do it the old fashioned local way.

Of course it’s hard to find one conversation to tap into, but it happens.


You’ve got 48 hours to change Donald Trump’s campaign strategy: what would you do?

I would probably force him to make the bold move of becoming friends with Paul Ryan, have a joint press conference, beg the entire Republican base to turn up on election day, and do it for their country. I think this would at least increase his chances of winning.

From a strategic point of view, he should probably do it within three days of the election day, so there isn’t enough time for follow ups and what the consequences would be. Then they would own the media for the last 48 hours, and their might be a chance for people to switch sides.

Otherwise I would say… he has a challenge.


What are you looking to learn about the Australian PR industry when you come to Sydney?

I’m curious to find out where the people in the industry and where the man on the street is, given you are where you are geographically, given there’s so much conversation going on right now in Europe and the US – that the world has become crazy, strange and difficult. How has that changed the conversation in Australia, in relation to the rest of the world, but also the internal climate of the society.

The only news that we get in Sweden about Australia is the immigration question – the different policies – I’m really curious how or if the discussion is changing in a similar way that it has in Europe in the last 18 months.


How do you see Australian PR and creative communications on the global stage?

I know that when I’m in Cannes, and my colleagues are coming back from Cannes, and talking about creative work and creative development, both Australia and New Zealand are seen as countries that you always look to with respect, and there’s a lot of things that come from these countries that you like.

How the Australian agencies and clients create narratives is more similar to how we do it than if you compare some of the countries in Europe and the Americas.


What is it that keeps you engaged with PR, and keeps you excited about what you do?

It’s the ability to understand what people like to talk about. It’s even more exciting now than when we founded Prime. I learn so much about what people like to talk about, how they talk about it. It’s impossible to leave the business, because then I won’t know what all the conversations are about.

When we started, we focused on Sweden, but now we have to understand what people are talking about across the entire world, and that’s a pretty cool job to have.


Author: Oscar Hillerstrom

Catch Anders Hult at the PRIA National Conference...