Huntsworth-owned Grayling opened its first office in the region more than a decade ago, when it acquired a single-client Singapore consultancy, Star PR, which provided support to longtime Grayling client and aerospace engine manufacturer Rolls Royce. Since then, the firm has expanded its regional presence to include offices in Hong Kong (opened in 2003) and Thailand (2006), and has about 40 people in the region, 25 of them in the Singapore headquarters, serving a much expanded client list.
The Asia management is now led by Bruce Shu, who joined from Huntsworth sister company Citigate two years ago and took over as regional managing director, based in Hong Kong, last year. The Thai operations are headed by Justin Barnett, a former head of corporate communications for Tesco locally; Christina Koh joined as managing director in Singapore (from DHL where she was a senior vice president and global head of communications and sustainability based in Germany); while the firm’s investor relations efforts in the region are managed by Dixon Chen.
Grayling works across multiple practice areas, including corporate and consumer communications, event management, public affairs (a particular focus of the UK parent company), and increasingly financial public relations, a service strengthened during the year by the GCG merger, a move that delivered corporate, financial and public affairs expertise in the U.S. and a small team in Shanghai. The past 12 months saw a significant investment in the firm’s digital capabilities, its training offer (from messaging to media preparedness to storytelling), and its sports marketing practice, which since its inception early in 2010 has launched Singapore’s largest ever professional boxing event and introduced the parkour discipline to local Singapore media
After struggling in 2009, revenues were up in 2010, with major clients such as Diageo, TNT, Airbus, Qantas Airways, BlackRock, iShares, Western Union, and PepsiCo, and Rolex supplemented by newer additions such as Electrolux, Zespri, Unilever, Nespresso, Johnnie Walker, Boots, iShares, Rolex, Moet Hennessy, and ICAP. High-profile assignments included digital engagement and key opinion former outreach for Johnnie Walker Jet Black party series around the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix; rebranding of the food service arm of Unilever, now Unilever Food Solutions, across Southeast Asia; financial transaction advisory services for PepsiCo in Thailand; and the regional launch of the £1.2 billion Bintan Treasure Bay resort development in Indonesia.
“It was a pleasure to work with the Grayling team who went above and beyond the call of duty,” says Paula Metcalfe, special projects, McLaren Marketing. “Should Team Vodafone McLaren Mercedes need a PR specialist in this part of the world, Grayling would be our first choice.”—PH