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Company SpecificsFounded: 1988
Headquarters: Hanwha Building, 1, Janggyo-dong, Jung-gu | Seoul, 100-797, Korea
Ownership Structure: Owned by Burson-Marsteller (BM), headquartered in Chicago. BM is owned by WPP, a global marketing communications company.
Product/Service: Burson-Marsteller is an international public relations consultancy specializing in Media Relations, Corporate Communications and public affairs. It assists local Korean companies to go "global" and assists foreign companies entering the Korean market.
Customers: South Korean Government, Korean global companies like LG and Samsung, and international companies like HP.
HostPhillip Raskin, Market Leader
OverviewMr. Raskin described not only BM Korea’s business, but also “Korea today”. We appreciated the candid conversation about topics such as Korean media, government and multinational companies. Being on the forefront of public relations, Mr. Raskin has a very deep understanding of Korean culture, government, current events and policies. He also talked about today’s Korean youth and how they are more connected and tech-savvy than their counterparts in many other parts of the world.
Koreans are heavy social networkers and seek a different look and feel on the Internet
Korea is a heavily connected country—be it in the form of mobile connections or social networking. Koreans also maintain connections with grade school and high school friends throughout their lives. The research shows that Koreans lead the world in social networking traffic on the Internet. We saw some of this communication and networking while moving around the town and traveling on subways. Some use the traditional voice services, while others use mobile phone based instant messaging. Conversations with young locals revealed that collaborative gaming on Wi-Fi enabled Sony PSPs is also very prevalent.
Koreans also differ in their webpage preferences—they prefer flashier and “everything on page” designs with lots of color. Hence, companies like Yahoo and Google are not able to lead the market. Search is dominated by a local company, NHN. Likewise, Cyworld is far ahead of MySpace and Facebook in the social networking arena because it caters to the preferences of Koreans.
Global reach combined with global infrastructure is a competitive advantage for BM Korea
When asked about how BM maintains it leadership despite the tendency of Koreans to chose local brands and companies, Mr. Raskin said BM’s global reach and infrastructure is a big competitive advantage. BM targets bigger players seeking global PR, hence many of the global Korean companies are BM’s clients. Smaller companies not looking for global PR might look for local agencies. Interestingly, a casual chat with a PR manager for a big company agreed with this assessment. His company, which is multinational, uses smaller Korean companies for local advertising and uses global firms like BM for global advertising.
Western companies like BM tend to keep western office culture
In Korea, as in many Asian cultures, the respect one gets is very closely tied to seniority and title. Our visit to Poongsan, a company with strong Korean roots, demonstrated some of these cultural values. However, at BM Korea, a more western style is adopted, such as addressing colleague by a first name. According to Mr. Raskin, BM encourages a corporate culture that is consistent throughout all global locations to allow smooth collaboration across the country boundaries. This is similar to HP Korea, another multinational company we visited in Korea, which also promoted a strong corporate culture with a western influence.
Korea is trying to become fashion capital of East
Korean companies like LG and Samsung are creating new trends in consumer electronics across the globe. In some cases, they have overtaken Japanese companies. According to Mr. Raskin, the Korean fashion industry is also trying follow suit. These days Korea is at the forefront of the Asian fashion scene.
Posted by: V. Gaonkar
The class prepared to learn about the Korean approach to PR in the headquarters of Burson-Marsteller Korea.
Mr. Raskin shared his views about Korean industry and society.
Dr. Tsay noted the artistic images displayed in the BM lobby.