HS Chung | The Innovator 25 Asia-Pacific 2020

HS Chung

Asia President

Hill+Knowlton Strategies

“It's alright to fail. Just try it.”

Just a year into her job as Hill + Knowlton’s regional president, HS Chung has already had a major hand in expanding the firm across Asia.  The 2019 merger of H+K Malaysia with Lumos PR, which grew the firm’s presence and capabilities in the Southeast Asian country, is among Chung’s accomplishments since assuming oversight of the region. In April of this year, she spearheaded launching an operation in Jakarta, a nod to the a rise in Indonesians’ spending power — and opportunity for clients. The move made H+K the only WPP firm to launch an office during the Covid pandemic. But the risk Chung, who launched her own firm, Synergy Communications (now Synergy Hill+Knowlton Strategies) took in opening the operation has paid off, already growing from three to 33 employees serving clients, 14 of which partnered with the office within its first 100 days. 

How do you define innovation? 
Innovation is more than being something new. It is about changing behavior.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months? 
Unfortunately, no multinational brands stood out. Locally, I would point to Kakao.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing? 
BTS and their unique marketing approach stands out even among K-pop groups.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.' 
When a press release was about the only tool to make a new product launch announcement, we took a big risk by convincing a client to showcase a small 'photo event' and invite photo journalists. Next day, the new product event photo was featured in all newspapers in Korea. Huge impact and high visibility. This became a new 'way of launching' in Korea since then which just about all agencies started doing.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?  
Elon Musk for thinking big and far.

How do you get out of a creativity rut? 
I meet with people from different industries and with different interests. Having a cup of coffee with someone who is from a different profession or who has different hobby can give you different views and ideas. If I don't have time and need to come up with a creative idea quickly, I do this with different staff in the office at all levels.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation? 
PR industry talk a lot about embracing innovation but still lack action due to risk of failure or simply not being courageous enough. It's alright to fail. Just try it.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job? 
I would pursue a career as an architect or a florist.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration? 
A book called "The Willie Lynch Letter and the Making of a Slave" looking at ideas and methods of how Anglo Saxons rationalized slavery. History that I had never related to but is giving me a lot to think about lately.

What's your favourite time of day and why? 
Early morning. Every day is a new day.