Born and bred in Hong Kong, Kiri Sinclair founded Sinclair in 2009. The entrepreneur discusses the key to brand messaging and what she looks for in new hires.
Sinclair is an award-winning public relations, social media and communications agency that creates business impact for clients via persuasive storytelling. Sinclair has worked with a roster of impressive clients, including Singapore Tourism Board, Van Cleef & Arpels, Swire Properties and PURE Group..
A FEW WORDS OF ADVICE
On the big picture...
When I started the company in 2009, I also started my MBA at Hong Kong University. Doing this simultaneously really helped me understand both the perspective of the client and that of the business owner."
"I think that's where the integrated PR model comes into play -- we are setting out to solve every client's business problem. For anyone who's working in a consulting capacity, it's really important to learn the matrix of the client's industry."
On taking everything in stride...
"What I find really interesting is that so many people say to me that I have such a strong vision... and they ask how I mapped it all out. The answer is that I didn't."
"I think the biggest challenge has been to remember that I have a really good gut instinct, to be flexible and move with the times and to truly trust the team and their decisions."
"There are always going to be challenges -- an unhappy client that needs to be addressed or unhappy team members who need to be heard -- but I think the key is to be flexible and responsive."
On checking your ego...
"The biggest downfall for entrepreneurs is ego -- you’ll trip over your ass, fall on your face and all the way down to the gutter."
"No one does it on their own. Be grateful for your team and the people around you. Honour your relationships and nurture them."
On startup branding...
"It’s important to have a strong narrative that explains how the brand supports its intended target audience from the start."
"Entrepreneurs should ensure that all digital and social assets, from the website to social media channels, consistently communicate this narrative, telling the brand story in a way that engages consumers through emotional content and calls to action."
"Simple videos and images can be powerful tools, and are worth investing in from the beginning."
On online vs face-to-face marketing...
"PR is all about creating relationships with a brand's publics. As we move more fully into the digital era, it’s important not to forget the power of human contact."
"Human-to-human and social media are both deemed important by your consumers, and should work in tandem. An integrated approach, where online and offline interaction support each other, will better drive conversation and conversion."
"Create relationships with key industry media, share your experiences -- both good and bad, as it makes you more real and human -- be quick to respond, create opportunities for experiential interactions that stir emotions, and create memories."
On cash flow...
"I think the biggest challenge for any business owner in Hong Kong is cash flow. Some clients pay bills 30 to 60 to 90 days after we have covered the month's salaries and rent, so cash flow becomes an issue. You know it's in the books, it's just not in the pocket."
"Entrepreneurs need to understand how their cash is likely to flow -- when do bills need to be paid, when will income be received in the bank. With this in mind, plan expenditure, always having extra cash in hand for clients who pay late."
"Banks can offer cash flow buffers -- talk to your financial advisor in advance so you understand the options."
On constant learning...
"I am the chair of the Council of PR Firms of Hong Kong, on the board of the Marketing Society Asia and I’m also a member of the Arts Administration Council, The Asia Society, the National Geographic Society -- all of which I participate in quite fully. I think if you're not constantly learning you’re stagnating."
On fostering new talent...
"Passion, curiosity and loyalty are the three key things that I look for when hiring. I often ask new talent what they are curious about -- in PR we need people who are intrinsically curious. We need to think of what the media will ask us before they ask it, we need to be able to tell the right stories."
"I don’t mind what the passion is -- people who are passionate tend to be driven. To be any type of a business person, you need to be able to passionately experience life."
On staff loyalty...
"Loyalty is a difficult one. I think that we are in a period where people jump jobs quite frequently -- people are moving and taking risks a lot more now."
"I also don't think companies treat their talent very well anymore, so I look for other ways to assess loyalty -- whether that's their relationships with their families or partners or whether they have been a member of a sports club for a while."
"We offer them a place to call home in a company where they can feel a part of something and feel like they are needed."
On loving your life...
"My dad always said it’s the journey, it’s who you meet, it’s what your today is like -- it’s not about being some big, successful rich person. Build a career that allows you to love life and that’s all I ever wanted to do."
A FEW MORE QUESTIONS
How do you unwind?
"I read books. If I’m really tired and can barely open my eyes, I listen to books instead. I’ve had a very busy three weeks and I got to the point where my immunity was down and I could barely hold the book up, so instead I listened to Catch 22 on Audible and giggled along the way."
Where do you shop for professional clothing?
"I like to have a very easy wardrobe. I’m usually in the same colors and clothes week in week out."
"I'm a really lazy shopper, so I have three shops I go to: Karen Millen, because it’s easy; Club Monaco; and I have a client called Isabella Wren, who makes custom dresses. She scans your measurements and then you can just choose styles, fabrics and trims online."
Any parting words?
"I think it’s really important in business to remember that trust is earned and that it goes two ways. You need to think as a business person about why your trusting someone you’re going to employ and what will make them trust you."
"If you think about the key facets of trust -- integrity, professionalism, courage, being reliable -- you need to give trust and you need to take trust. Underlying any successful business, I believe trust is a key factor to success."