A country in which Confucius and social media influence PR practices – this sounded interesting we thought and talked to John Kim, CEO of GlobalCom’s Korean partner agency.

* The series is based on phone or face-to-face interviews and written input, therefore please excuse language mistakes which might reflect foreign language influences.

1. What is the latest trend (change) in PR you have identified in your region?

John Kim: Korean consumers are savvier and not just looking at what companies are doing, but how they operate their business. Korean consumers move from viewers to collaborators and want to be engaged more than ever before. Currently in Korea we are facing a record fracturing in the media business. Many current newspapers will not exist in the future in Korea. While traditional media will likely remain important, for many companies, this development means that engaging through multiple channels with various nuanced messages is the best means to target many audiences. With the evolution of various new communications channels, the traditional ‘Top-Down’ communications method has now been replaced with a sphere of cross influence, demonstrating more extensive information dissemination.

The current trend by the name of democratization and proliferation of information through Social Networking Services (SNS) means that Korean organizations can no longer rely on ‘controlling’ the dialogue through traditional communications channels. Most of Korean organizations tend to begin to engage in two-way dialogue with customers and stakeholders through adopting new media channels such as blogs & twitter for themselves. In a result, SNS is a medium which can open up long -term dialogue and the sharing of opinions between organizations and stakeholders throughout this region.


2. How does your agency handle / embrace this?

John Kim: First of all, towards both our internal members and the key managers of our clients, we try to make a PR paradigm shift from Public Relations to Public Engagement. We provide e.g. SNS programs to our IT and government sector clients which can be linked to the traditional media and PR programs. And further to this, we have formed a SNS task force team to build and maintain a relationship to online influencers with proactive brand & key message education program on regular basis.


3. Can you give a recent example from a project or best practice?

John Kim: In order to successfully carry out ‘Public Engagement’ to meet various requirements from different target segments, including traditional media as well as social media, we have to be able to maintain favourable relationships with each target group through customized & polished communication while effectively delivering key message to minimize unexpected noises caused by a lack of understanding. Especially, the importance of face-to-face meetings or off-line events targeting social media continues to grow as the role & influence of social media have been widely extended for the past few years.

So, we have been constantly communicate with key influential social media persons, especially in IT & mobile field, to establish firm relations through 1) Up-to-date press material dissemination 2) Paid-postings projects 3) Informal face-to-face meetings, etc. which results in a proactive & interactive involvement from key social media in various client’s offline events while securing additional social media exposure.

Meanwhile, we are currently planning to implement ‘Social Media Forum’ for Qualcomm CDMA Technologies Korea this week targeting key social media in IT & mobile field, as a key project of our client. Thanks to the relations that have been built over several years, we are looking at over 50 of the most powerful & influential social media figures in Korea to participate in the event. We can also expect to have plenty of after-event social media exposure as we secured a number of blog postings, RT and re-tweets through the event.


Looking at general PR differences next week John will explain how Confucianism might still influence Korean PR and communication practices.


John Kim, CEO of GRAPE PR, Korea

John has been serving as CEO of GRAPE PR & Consulting for 6 years since its foundation. He has more than 20 years of experience in PR, marketing communications, corporate communications, government relations, Investor relations and issue management. Has an excellent track record working for client companies such as GM Daewoo as Vice President, Corporate Affairs, GlaxoSmithKline as PR Director, LG Ad as PR Group Director, and LG Group as Senior PR Manager.

Extensive experience working for POSCO, the Korea’s no. 1 steal maker, in building a good reputation and brand image as well as in managing environmental issues

Has counseled many Korean senior business leaders including LG and Samsung to develop and execute communications strategies that enhance their overall corporate positioning and reputation.

His successfully PR projects also earned him an award of the best PR practice from the Minister of Environment in 2009. John graduated from Korea University, Seoul Korea, earning B.A. in Korean Literature and from Sloan Business School of Management at MIT, USA.

GlobalCom is an award-winning worldwide alliance of Public Relations specialists and agencies that offers international PR services to organisations looking to launch their products and services simultaneously in multiple countries.