Dr. Simeon Mellalieu is the General Manager of Ketchum Hong Kong, the firm’s regional headquarters and central hub amongst Ketchum’s seven integrated locations within Greater China. Despite his extensive background and insight in public relations of all kinds, Mellalieu began his academic career quite differently.
Dr. Mellalieu studied in his native United Kingdom at University College London, from which he gained a Ph.D. in Archeology. This led him to travel across the world, both lecturing on his passion and heading expeditions throughout the East and West. Mellalieu transitioned into the field of Public Relations first at London agency Bulletin International and then at tech PR Warman and Bannister in Cambridge. PublicAffairsAsia last year called Mellalieu “the Spin Doctor” in honor of the progression of his focus from our world’s past to the needs of the present.
Simeon Mellalieu has obtained vast communications experience in many industries, from business-to-consumer and business-to-business to crisis management and consulting. He has dabbled in sectors such as technology, healthcare, retail, automotive and aerospace; several of his most prominent clients include Boeing, the Disney channel, Kodak, Levi Strauss, and United Airlines. His caliber of work led to one of the most prestigious recognitions in the PR world – the 2007 David Drobis Client Service Excellence Award (named for Ketchum’s former CEO).
In August of last year, Mellalieu was appointed Chairman of the Executive Board of the Council of Public Relations Firms of Hong Kong. This best practice association is comprised of 25 leading organizations in the field and contains about 450 PR professionals. As its new leader, Dr. Mellalieu has emphasized the solidification of an ethical framework for public relations, specifically around the use of social media. He describes that “social media” once referred to a company’s website; the recent explosion of digital media messages, however, means that not a single brief or press release is produced outside the context of wide-reaching social media outreach.
This council’s focus on ethical best practices within the industry extends to consideration of data protection systems and their role in protecting clientele information. In summary, the council’s primary objective and Mellalieu’s priority is to solidify a standard, thorough and responsible accreditation process for PR agencies in the Asian Pacific Region.
Mellalieu recognizes what has led to the need for PR firms in today’s global landscape to be versatile and quick on their feet. He told PublicAffairsAsia: “In today’s world pressures on costs and procurement efficiencies has resulted in clients seeking one-stop-shops in a way they didn’t before. Broadly communications is diversifying – reflecting an explosion of information.”
Currently at Ketchum, Mellalieu continues to provide counsel to clients both locally and globally. His areas of expertise which he practices most prominently include positioning, branding and reputation management; crisis communications and issues management; and sports marketing. He also pays close attention to client execution of television media and leads Ketchum Hong Kong’s Broadcast Media Strategy Group.
Finally, Dr. Mellalieu enjoys disseminating his industry experience and wisdom to young professionals and academics. In the fall of last year, Mellalieu spoke with media students at Chinese University of Hong Kong about the crucial nature of the region in which they are studying as well as what ethical standards will be important for aspiring PR professionals to follow.
Specifically, Mellalieu mentioned that the power of social media offers great potential with a great need for conscientiousness; that is, that overly self-promotional messages which aren’t authentic will show through to the clients and employers. He also stressed the importance of PR professionals as listeners, for it requires keen listening in order for a firm to gain and share insight that is valuable to a company which has already had industry success in its region for some time (as most of Ketchum’s clients have).
See below to hear a bit of the PR doctor’s advice to young media students (courtesy of KetchumHK on Youtube):