Today finds me in Singapore with my wife Heather and my parents celebrating the Agency’s 20-year anniversary of expanding to Asia.
A quick back story —
I wanted to open an office in Asia in 1994, but couldn’t muster the guts to hit the go-for-it button. I kept thinking if establishing a tech-focused PR consultancy in Asia was such a great idea, why hadn’t anyone done it before?
The catalyst to finally act came from reading an article in Inc. Magazine in 1996 that espoused the theory that entrepreneurs follow their passions, not spreadsheets. Because passion, more than any other quality, enables entrepreneurs to find a way through obstacles that would stop anyone else.
I felt passionate about the opportunity — hence, we opened our office in Singapore in 1996.
You’ll see an infographic below that offers up never-before-seen data on our longest-tenured staff members. As best as I can piece together, my treks to our offices in Asia since 1996 have meant standing in line for 10 ½ days to pass through various immigration controls. I actually ended up behind Steve Wozniak a few months ago when passing through immigration at the Beijing airport.
The official news release on today’s milestone follows the infographic.
Communications Consultancy Reflects on 20-Year Milestone of Operating in Asia
Singapore, Nov 01, 2016 –The Hoffman Agency, a communications consultancy with roots in the tech industry, today celebrates 20 years in Asia.
“It has been an amazing, fun, torturous, weird, satisfying, frustrating and enlightening run,” offered Lou Hoffman, CEO of the consultancy.
The catalyst for the Agency’s decision to expand to Asia occurred in 1994 — a press tour in Asia for Hyundai Electronics (now known as Hynix). At the first press conference in Tokyo, the local PR agency had neglected to mention that the format for overhead projectors in Japan — LCD projectors were still a curiosity back in 1994 — was different from the format of the overhead projectors in the U.S. The Hyundai executive put the first foil on the projector ready to sing the virtues of the latest technology only to see roughly 20 percent of his information cut off at the screen. The journalists reacted with a gasp and then absolute, utter silence.
While this theme of “things not going according to plan” continued throughout the press tour, the mishaps gave courage to what was then a 42-person company to expand globally starting with Asia in November 1996.
Today, the Agency projects global revenue at $11.5 million from its offices in Asia, Europe and the U.S., the fourth consecutive year of 9 percent growth. The largest percent of the company’s revenue comes from Asia, the only U.S.- or European-born communications consultancy that can make such a claim. Eschewing the conventional PR agency model that worships the P/L in each office, The Hoffman Agency has created a different type of global communications consultancy, one that cultivates collaboration across geographic boundaries.
“I’ve always remembered the passage from the book, ‘The Monk and the Riddle’ by venture capitalist Randy Komisar who points out that companies are like the laws of physics, neither inherently good nor evil,” said Hoffman. “I’ll take this a step further and say that companies at their best enrich employees’ lives. Asia is a huge part of striving to do this.”
Operating offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo, Hoffman Asia Pacific supports a range of clients from tech and non-tech industries. These include ARM, AsiaMalls, CenturyLink, Chicago Booth School of Business, CKGSB, Corning, Cyberport, Evernote, Fashion Walk, LinkedIn, Niantic Labs, Nutanix, Parrot, Wearable IoT World, WeWork and Western Digital.
Bullet Points from the 20-Year Journey
- The first staff member hired in Asia in 1997, Maureen Tseng, still works for the Agency as director of client services in Singapore.
- Hoffman Asia Pacific’s longest tenured client is Google, a relationship that started in 2001.
- Lou Hoffman reckons his 217 office visits in Asia translate into 10½ days waiting in line to go through immigration at airport
- In less than 15 months after the birth of Hoffman Asia Pacific, Lou Hoffman marked a new milestone in 1998 by opening The Hoffman Agency Japan in downtown Tokyo.
- The Hoffman Agency Singapore in 2014 worked with the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) and Earth Hour to launch the global campaign — “Use Your Power” — to much fanfare with the cast of The Amazing Spiderman 2” joining the team at the launch.
- Lydia Lau has processed 17,760 employee payrolls during her 16 years at Hoffman — definitely a force to be reckoned with.
- Chicken Rice for the Soul, blog on Asia Pacific operation
- Maureen Tseng, the first staff member hired in Asia, shares her perspective on the journey
Sample Hoffman Asia Pacific Awards 2015/2016
- PR Awards Asia 2016: Southeast Asia PR Consultancy of the Year
- Mumbrella Asia Awards 2016: Southeast Asia PR Agency of the Year
- PR Awards 2016 Hong Kong: Bronze Award for “Best Engagement — Targeted Community.” Pan Asia IoT Superhighway Accelerator Program — 2016 — Wearable IoT World
- 2016 In2 SABRE Awards: Certificate of Excellence for “Best Use of Visual Social Platforms.” Pan Asia IoT Superhighway Accelerator Program — 2016 — Wearable IoT World
- 2016 In2 SABRE Awards: Certificate of Excellence for “Media Partnership.” Meet The Opportunities in China — 2015 CKGSB’s Media Partnership In Korea — CKGSB