IABCHK at the Asia Pacific regional conference  

By Genevieve Hilton
Photo: Kaz Amemiya

How does culture impact the practice of crisis communications? As practitioners in a regional hub, Hong Kong communicators are in a unique position to develop expertise in this area. IABC Hong Kong Vice President Genevieve Hilton presented on this topic in Melbourne at the IABC Asia Pacific regional conference, Fusion 2018. She presented a group of real scenarios from around the Asia Pacific region where cultural nuances were crucial in developing the right communications strategy. Cultural differences other than national culture also can have an impact: these include generational culture, corporate culture, and industry culture. Incidents potentially affected by culture are not only physical crises such as fires or natural disasters, but also legal and social dilemmas on topics such as undocumented workers, decisions on energy policy, or social scandals.

Hilton identified five important intersections to consider during a crisis: content (for example, the use of apologies); stakeholders (for example, the hierarchy of the spokesperson); timing (for example, the expected speed and length of the messages); platform (for example, whether a company’s social media channel is considered “official”); and format (for example, the language used).

Her advice to communicators is to think about culture before the crisis hits: by fostering intercultural orientation on a routine basis, and including diverse voices in the incident management team, cultural barriers during a crisis can be overcome. In particular, during a crisis, a regional or global office should offer resources and guidance (not control) to local offices. However, she provided a reminder: “Don’t go overboard with cultural sensitivity – since some differences of approach are based on the individual!”

The conference, which was hosted by the local IABC chapter in Victoria, Australia, also provided insights from IABC members, chapter leaders and guest speakers from Australia, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Singapore, and India, as well as delegates from other IABC chapters around the world. Key topics of discussion focused on the role of storytelling, ethical challenges for the modern communicator, diversity in communications, and the impact of Artificial Intelligence on the communications profession. Conference partners included recruitment agency Salt & Shein, Isentia and Sketch Group, as well as Deakin University, which provided its facility Deakin Downtown.


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On August 20, 2018 members and guests enjoyed an expertise sharing on two major IABC events this year after the completion of IABC/HK Annual General Meeting - The IABC World Conference in Montreal took place in June 2018, and the IABC Asia Pacific Conference will take place in Melbourne in September 2018.

Topics of the expertise sharing included culture, digital, change communications, crisis communications, professional development, executive engagement, and others.

  • Recap and discussion on IABC World Conference - Focus topic: The changing and the unchanged at the communication crossroads - Moderator: Lisa Chan; Speaker: Jenny Li
  • Dialogue session on looking ahead to Fusion 2018 (IABC Asia Pacific Conference). Focus topic: culture and communications - Moderator: Genevieve Hilton.

A special thank you to our venue sponsor, Meltwater.


The May 7, 2018 IABC Hong Kong Symposium On China: New Perspectives On Leadership was successfully completed!  We would like to thank all our Speakers, Sponsors and Partners for their great sharing and strong support; and to the communicators who took part in the Symposium. Look forward to your active involvement and continuous support in our future events. 

Enjoy the photos of the Symposium we prepared for you! 

Photos by Miki Yau

View the embedded image gallery online at:

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Date: 20 November 2017
Venue: BASF Office, 45/F Jardine House, Central, Hong Kong

IABC Panel Discussion: Evolution or Revolution? What the entire communications and marketing industry can learn from financial and professional services industries

Though encumbered with heavy regulations, firms in the financial and professional services sectors must continue to keep pace with changing demands from all stakeholders. So is there a smart balance between customer engagement, brand goodwill, management and regulation? Led by senior PR and marketing professionals, views on the following areas were exchanged with invaluable experience sharing in the discussion:

  • How social media has transformed overall communications strategy
  • Shift of resources and budget planning
  • How to engage efficiently with key stakeholders
  • What are positive and negative impacts when we go digital?
  • Measuring our PR / marketing efforts

Panel Members:

  • Louise Corbett, Head of Marketing Communication, Asia Pacific, AIG
  • Simone Wheeler, Global Head, Group Communications, CLSA.
  • Grace Zhang, Partner and Head of China, Newgate Communications


  • Genevieve Hilton, Head of External Communications, Corporate Affairs Asia Pacific, BASF

A very special thanks to BASF as the venue sponsor of the panel discussion.

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On 9 November 2017, a group of Employee Communications practitioners in Hong Kong discussed some top challenges they expect to face in 2018. Measuring and showcasing the value of Employee Communications top the list, followed by change management and internal social media.

IABC Hong Kong is planning to organize more discussions on Employee Communications soon and welcome more practitioners to join in. Stay tuned for upcoming announcements.



Integrating Innovation Into Communications
by Brad Whitworth, SCMP, ABC, IABC Fellow, Senior Internal Communications Manager, Hitachi Vantara
HSBC Main Building, L40 Event Space, 1 Queen’s Road, Central, Hong Kong


Brand Management Across Countries
by Ron Christianson, Global Head of Corporate Relations for McDonald’s Foundational Markets
Meltwater Hong Kong, 3906-09, AIA Tower, 183 Electric Road, Hong Kong

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