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Back Eşti aici:Home Dezbateri Karl-Heinz Heuser, CEO at Burson-Marsteller Germany: Innovation is a mindset that needs a constant change of perspective

Karl-Heinz Heuser, CEO at Burson-Marsteller Germany: Innovation is a mindset that needs a constant change of perspective

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Karl-Heinz Heuser‘The agency of the future has to find new ways of rewarding employees and maintaining flat hierarchies at the same time. It doesn’t matter if you are Trainee, Director or CEO – you have to maintain a hands-on attitude and consider yourself part of a team. You’re in the wrong job if you think a higher rank means you can pick and choose’, told us Karl-Heinz Heuser, CEO at Burson-Marsteller Germany, in an interview with PR Romania on how innovation will take PR at the next level.

How do you define innovation in the PR industry?

Innovation is a term that should be top-of-mind for every PR consultant. Though it seems paradox, innovation must become part of our work routine. We cannot afford to offer our clients average ideas or mediocre performance – or we will lose them. This means, we constantly have to find new and different angles to look at our clients and their projects. Innovation really is a mindset that needs a lot of empathy and constant change of perspective.

PR agencies create innovative products for clients, but their modes of operation are standard and somehow outdated.  So what’s holding agencies back from innovative and risk-taking structural decisions?

I actually think this is only true to some extent. Of course, when you are part of a big international network like Burson-Marsteller, you cannot change things overnight and you can’t always make decisions independently.
On the other hand we are in an ongoing process of innovation when it comes to our work. For instance, we spend substantial amounts of money to train and develop our employees because we believe that our people and their individual skills are the motor for innovation in our business. The agency sector is also a pioneer in terms of innovative workplaces and the organization of working time.

Usual titles like ‘Senior Account Manager’ and ‘Director’ are becoming less and less adequate at defining someone’s true job. How do you see the agency of the future regarding these roles?  

In my opinion, titles are a good way to show our employees where they are standing and what their possibilities to develop are. Promoting someone to the next level in their career path is also a way to manifest our appreciation and gratitude which is vital for the relationship between the agency and our employees.
Then again, we cannot let the structures get too rigid. It doesn’t matter if you are Trainee, Director or CEO – you have to maintain a hands-on attitude and consider yourself part of a team. You’re in the wrong job if you think a higher rank means you can pick and choose. The agency of the future has to find new ways of rewarding employees and maintaining flat hierarchies at the same time.

In which areas are you seeing the most concrete industry innovation?

Of course, digital and technical progress are still key drivers of innovation in the whole communications sector. The different disciplines like advertising, marketing, PR and public affairs tend to merge increasingly and the lines become blurred. The need for integrated approaches to communication today is greater than ever.
The internet and its social platforms have also created more and more possibilities for public protest and mobilization. As a result, companies, parties and administrations are exposed to a much greater demand for transparency and an authentic dialogue with the public. This ultimately extends the areas in which communicative support is needed. 

Do you think that PR industry attract enough doers with entrepreneurial skills?

There is a lot of great talent in the PR industry. When it comes to working conditions, you have to differentiate between agencies and PR departments in companies and corporations. As wages tend to be higher in corporations – especially at entry-level positions –, agencies as employers have to be aware that they always have to offer slightly more to attract the best employees: more dynamic structures, better possibilities for development and training, more challenging tasks and projects and last but not least more fun at work.

The future is laden with more complex technology and big ideas. Are the agencies ready to take on the next big, unknown thing?

I can best speak for myself and my people at Burson-Marsteller Germany and I can only say: we certainly are.


Karl-Heinz Heuser took over as Market Leader and CEO at Burson-Marsteller Germany in January 2005. He is one of the most experienced and respected PR- und communications experts in Germany.
Karl-Heinz Heuser has collected more than 25 years of experience in political communication and public relations. In 1985 he founded his own enterprise prbonn, which he sold 14 years later - with two offices and about 40 employees - to Weber Shandwick. At the beginning of 2001 he was appointed CEO of Weber Shandwick in Germany. He gave up this position in October, 2003; however, he continued to support Weber Shandwick as President Business Development in a variety of communications tasks. In addition, he lectured at the Advanced Technical College Hannover and - as a free advisor – worked for a variety of communications projects.

Over the years, Karl-Heinz Heuser has worked for customers like McDonald's, Procter & Gamble, Coca Cola, Langnese Iglo, RTL II, and Siemens - in Germany as well as at the international level. He has developed and led different projects for the German Federal Government and advised government representatives as well as board members of famous enterprises
Karl-Heinz Heuser enjoys a high level of expertise in the areas public affairs / government relations, corporate communications, issues management, brand- and marketing communications, and CSR.


Interview by Dana Oancea. Copyright PR Romania

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