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Edelman Amsterdam announces further team expansion to drive further integration of communications and marketing services

Edelman has strengthened its team in Amsterdam with a further eight hires, significantly accelerating growth in its integrated communications marketing services offering.

Harald Boersma joins as director and Content & Client Lead for business to business clients. He will be working alongside Eeva Raaijmakers, who joined last year in the same role and has since been able to realize substantial growth in this client portfolio, creating the opportunity to further strengthen the leadership bench in this area.

Harald is a highly experienced expert in business-to-business communications and joins Edelman from scientific publisher and data analytics company Elsevier, where he spent eight years as Corporate Communications Director. Harald is also no stranger to the agency world: he has previously held roles at Coebergh Communications & PR and Publicis Consultants (now known as MSL).

Edelman Amsterdam has evolved from a traditional PR agency to a leading provider of fully integrated communications marketing solutions. This allows Edelman to serve client needs by offering integrated solutions across the entire marketing spectrum. These latest hires join the agency in addition to the six hires announced this past summer.

“The strategy we have for our company is ambitious and is paying off for our clients,” said Arent Jan Hesselink, CEO of Edelman Amsterdam. “We are able to provide them with better, more integrated solutions that contribute to the realization of their business goals in measurable ways. Building upon that platform, now is the right time for us to invest in strengthening our team further.”

In addition to Harald, Edelman will welcome eight new colleagues, including:

Julian van de Wetering, former Investor Relations Officer at Nutreco, joins as an Account Director specializing in financial communications
Leilah Thiart, former Communications Manager for DSM, Philips and Rabobank, joins as an Account Director specializing in business-to-business communications
Bhaarti Narain, former Project Manager for Photoflyer, will start as a Project Manager
Renée Reijers, a highly experienced reputation and communications expert with years of experiences in both corporations and agencies will start as Account Director.

A complete overview of the new team members is below.

“Edelman is not only the sector’s largest independent player globally, it has also become the leading agency in the Netherlands. A compelling vision guides the work we do for our customers, supported by an exceptionally talented team. It is a privilege to be part of an agency with such an appealing mission,” said Harald Boersma.

Edelman Amsterdam has strengthened its team over the past few years in various disciplines including Digital, Creative, Marketing, Data & Analytics and Brand specialists. It has developed into an agency that helps clients tackle commercial and reputation goals through the right mix of earned, paid, owned and social media. As a result, Edelman can offer customers a made-to-measure team that can effectively tackle integrated communication and marketing challenges; from strategic advice, up to and including execution.

“One of the things that makes Edelman unique is that we are independent,” said Hesselink. “That means we have a lot of space to invest and grow into the service provider we want to be. We believe that with that comes the obligation to our customers to always strive to lead the way and to do more than other agencies. The future of marketing and communication is fully integrated. We are ready to help our customers step into that future.”


Harald Boersma will start at Edelman as Director. He will return to the agency world after 8 years as Corporate Communications Director at Elsevier. Harald previously worked at Coebergh Communications & PR and Publicis Consultants (now known as MSL).

Leilah Thiart is beginning as Account Director. Leilah has extensive experience with B2B communication and has worked in corporate and marketing communications for several organizations. These include DSM, Rockwool, Philips, Rabobank and the municipality of Helmond.

Julian van de Wetering will start as Account Director specializing in Financial Communications. Julian previously worked as a Business Developer at GoodHout and as Investor Relations Officer and Corporate Development Manager at Nutreco.

Bhaarti Narain will begin as a Project Manager. Previously she worked as a Project Manager at Photoflyer, where she worked with various national and international clients.

Nomi Meijs is starting as an Associate Account Executive. Having previously completed an internship at Edelman while completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Commercial Economics, Nomi followed a Pre-Master and Master of Business Administration at the University of Amsterdam and also worked at Edelman as a Back Office Assistant.

Isabella Mulder is also joining the team as an Associate Account Executive. After her Master’s in Political and Corporate Communications at the University of Amsterdam, she also completed an internship at Edelman.
Renée Reijers is starting as Account Director, with extensive previous experience as a spokesperson and senior communications advisor.

Renée has been freelancing at Reijers Reputation and Speech for the past five years, supporting several large organizations. Before that, she worked at Transport and Logistics Netherlands.

Six new hires for Edelman Amsterdam, as its ambitious growth strategy continues to deliver for clients and the agency

Edelman Amsterdam takes the next step in its ambitious growth plans by adding six new talented colleagues to its team of industry-leading talent. After successfully transforming into a fully integrated communications marketing firm, the office will be expanding even further in the coming months by adding a combination of fresh talent and experienced senior hires.

“Two years ago, we began a fundamental transformation to become the market leader in integrated communications and marketing services. We’ve changed our ways of working, our organizational structure and invested in new technologies and services for our clients. This transformation has paid dividends, and we’re doing higher value work for our clients, as well as substantially growing our business. As a result, we will be expanding our team significantly in the coming months, starting with six new team members in August,” said Arent Jan (AJ) Hesselink, who started as General Manager at Edelman Amsterdam two years ago.

Edelman Amsterdam has strengthened its offering across areas including digital, creative, marketing, data and analytics, and branding with all of these services offered by a fully-integrated, in-house team. It has developed from a traditional public relations firm into an agency that helps clients tackle commercial and reputation goals through the right mix of earned, paid, owned and social media. This has created the ability to offer clients an account team with the right expertise to tackle issues in an integrated way, from strategic advice up to and including execution.

“With our transformation to an integrated communications marketing team, we have created a platform for further growth. Not only can we advise and support our customers in all facets of communications marketing, we can also demonstrate the value of our work. We are also seeing that our approach is gaining traction, which is reflected in the breadth and diversity in the skillset of the specialists we have hired. This enables us to offer each client a tailor-made team that works together in the most efficient and effective way to achieve the best results,” said Hesselink.

Edelman Amsterdam is welcoming the following new colleagues:

Seema Sharma has started at Edelman as Creative Lead. She has previously worked for bureaus such as Woedend!, These Days and Blast Radius, after which she that she worked as a freelancer for JWT and Wunderman in London. Seema has also published two books about creativity: Write Nothing in Here & Read Nothing in Here.

Fiorenza de Heer will be a Senior Digital Content Specialist. Before moving to Edelman, she held the role of (Digital) Marketing Communications Manager at RTL and NPO, as well as Communicatons Adviser at the Erasumus+ International Subsidy Program; a fund of the European Commission.

Janneke van Cuijk has joined Edelman as a Digital Content Specialist. Previously she has worked in different functions at Quinny, with her most recent role being that of Global Brand Communications Specialist. Before starting there, she graduated with a degree in Media and Entertainment Management from Stenden Hogeschool.

Michelle Posthas started at Edelman as Senior Digital Specialist. Before joining the Edelman team, Michelle acted as Public Information Officer at the NATO Command and Control Centre of Excellence. Before that she worked as Social and Content specialist at ZIGT Media Bureau, and as Marketing and Communications Manager at NuDeal.

Danielle van Leeuwen is starting as a Senior Account Manager specializing in Health/Tech. Previously Danielle was Communications Manager at G DATA Benelux, and worked at international PR firm Text 100.

Anne Sandorhas started as Assistant Account Executive, having previously completed an internship at Edelman. After completing her internship, Anne went back to finish her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Communication and Information Science at the University of Groningen.

Melle de Haan is beginning as an Assistant Account Executive, having also previously completed an internship at Edelman. Before taking on his new role, he completed degree programs in Political Communications at the University of Amsterdam and History at the University of Antwerp.

Media relations isn’t dead, but we need to be realistic about the future

Tomorrow will look like today, and It won’t.

The world of media relations is not going to change overnight but it’s also possible to see where threats and opportunities heading, for both PR agencies and in-house communications teams.

(Real) Journalism is back

Deep, detailed investigative journalism is finally being funded properly. A select number of publishers are betting big on quality and on their ability to build a sustainable audience of paying readers. Edelman’s Trust Barometer shows they are wise to do so, as trust in specific, known journalists has rocketed in recent years in direct counterpoint to falling levels of trust in the media overall.

Genuine, pragmatic and long-term relationships with global top tier media will become more important than ever.  The best media handlers will deliver relevant, exclusive data (and commentary) and place their brands at the heart of interesting long-form journalism.

On the other hand, brands who fail to prepare for crises or are not on top of their own issues will be buffeted by harsh winds as investigative journalism uncovers issues anywhere from their supply chain through to their accounting practices.

Paying for coverage will come out of the shadows

Every market and media vertical has its own specific relationship between advertising spend and coverage.  This spectrum has at one end media houses such as the BBC with stringent rules, editorial codes and blanket bans on paying-to-play.  At the other end, paying influencers per post or a trade magazine with an unofficial pricelist for coverage.

Of course, the daily reality for PRs usually lies somewhere in the middle.  Navigating this world is a challenge and one which raises many questions.  At the forefront of these decisions must be the expectations of the audience, largely driven by the transparency of the arrangement.

Where social media leads, traditional media will follow. Media relations nous will need to be combined with commercial acumen in order to identify and forge effective collaborative journalism efforts and deliver earned-centric branded content and partnerships.

Clickbait will get worse, because we can’t help ourselves   

The search for clicks will continue, and the proliferation of low-value online content will continue to expand.  This trend will become even more painful because more and more communicators will adopt a “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mindset and pump out even greater quantities of their own clickbait.

Smarter communicators won’t ignore this trend, though, but rather than lowering brand equity they’ll use analytics and semi-automation (with human safeguards and oversight) to create stories in near real-time which insert their brand into popular culture in authentic, credible ways. Think of it as the sell-in at scale.

As all of these trends continue, traditional PR skills such as strong relationship management and an eye for story will be as important as ever – but new skills such as better commercial acumen, literacy with data and coding will also be in the arsenal of the smart communications team or agency.

Completing your final communications preparations before GDPR. Need help?

The European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) take force on 25 May, less than a month away.  In most organisations, multiple departments from legal through to IT, marketing and communications will need to take action to ensure compliance with these new data privacy rules which, in simple terms, apply to any organisation which processes the personal data of EU citizens.

In the last few weeks we have seen a real shift in our client work in preparation of this change, moving from helping clients to evaluate the broad contours of their messaging on privacy, as part of general preparation within the communications department, through to communications team driving final cross-organisational preparations.

It seems that the item highest on our clients’ agendas is the notification requirement of GDPR.  Under GDPR, companies must notify supervisors and data subjects within 72 hours of first becoming aware of a data breach.  Potential consequences for non-compliance with these notification requirements include hefty financial fines of up to €10 million (or up to 2 percent of the total worldwide turnover), but also failure to comply with this requirement would open another vulnerability for the company and add a complex dimension to reputation risk.

With this in mind, we’ve been helping clients to make plans and test them through a simulation.  Whether a more limited desktop exercise in order to gain familiarity with an existing crisis playbook, or a fuller all-day simulation with core incident response team members, leaders and subject matter experts from across the company, these provide a useful way of ensuring everything is in place before May 25.

Edelman has experts available to co-create GDPR-compliant data breach response plans and prepare and run crisis simulations before the launch of GDPR. 

If you would like to take advantage of this, please get in touch.

Steve Heywood
Deputy General Manager and GDPR Lead
Edelman Amsterdam

Voice Marketing: Five Opportunities and Challenges

23% of marketing professionals think that the increased use of voice-controlled assistants and smart speakers will influence their marketing strategies in 2021

In a few months, Google will launch the Dutch language version of Google Assistant, opening the door for an increased use in voice activated assistants in Dutch households. That being said, it is already a quickly moving development: Apple speech assistant Siri is used on almost 500 million mobile devices and it is expected in the next year that more than 59 million people worldwide will use a smart speaker like the Amazon Echo or Google Home. For many marketeers this will have a huge impact on their strategies for the coming few years, but which opportunities and challenges come with it? Here are 5 things to keep in mind for a voice-driven marketing strategy.

1. ‘Marketing in the Moment’ Becomes Essential
The rise in popularity of the voice assistant offers the chance for your brand to – both literally and figuratively – enter the homes of your target audiences and become a part of their daily lives. While only a fraction of current users have indicated that they like receiving branded content via their smart speakers, there is still huge potential for service and commercial purposes. Determining the when and how of using the speakers to approach customers is essential.

With the right insights into the (daily) usage of smart speakers, you can assess where you can create added value. Is it between 17:00 and 19:00 – when people are mostly using their assistants to search for restaurants and recipes – or when users are using their speakers to listen to music together with friends or family? There are plenty of chances to tune into the different phases of the customer journey.

2. The Revolution of Voice Search
More than 20% of all mobile searches via Google are voice search queries, which has already made voice search relevant for SEO marketeers in the last few years. But the real revolution will come in the next few years as use of smart speakers increases. Through more voice-based searches…

…search subjects will become more diverse and complex, based on various forms of speech.

…the search result needs of the users will change. More focus on audio will have an impact on the optimal audiovisual design of your brand’s various channels.

… even greater competition is created for the top positions in search engines – since only the top results are considered by the speech assistants, and ultimately only these results are heard by the users.

These are just a few reasons for marketeers to change the direction of their search strategy. Because there is not much existing data available about spoken searches, qualitative user research is advisable to find out which spoken search queries your target groups use and in which domains these searches are. You might conclude that it is more efficient to focus on long-tail in order to be able to claim more specific search domains.

3. Brands are (quite literally) getting a voice more and more
Where music and voiceovers in traditional advertising have helped brands get attention or form an emotional bond with customers for decades, the rise of voice assistants gives a new dimension to the importance of audio. For example, the translation of tone – in many companies an integral part of the brand identity – into the sound of a voice becomes necessary. It’s not for nothing that ‘voice designer’ is an up and coming career choice among talented designers.

Make a conscious choice for the voice of your brand. One that is in line with your brand values and keeps the forward-thinking target group of the smart speaker user in mind. In the world of speech assistants, your brand – and its representation in voice design – must be of service to the target group and ensure recognizability and trust. Do not make your voice design too obedient either: dare to be different, while ensuring an intelligent design with a human quality. That way, you also build a connection with your target audience via this channel.

4. Traditional channels are also getting smarter – and speech controlled
With the increasing number of chatbots, Conversational UI – the web design facilitating interaction between human users and robots – is implemented on different platforms: from Facebook Messenger to customer service pages. The next development, however, is already happening: Voice Conversational UI, in which speech is central.

Keep this in mind when (developing) your channel strategy: as people become increasingly accustomed to communicating with voice assistants, in the future they also expect your brand to facilitate them: via a chatbot, website or even at physical service points. Because of this change in user experience, it is becoming less important what you want to say as a marketeer and more important what the consumer wants to hear. This means that listening to your target groups – and that is a possibility that voice-driven platforms will offer – is also becoming increasingly important.

5. Measurability and Determining Your Tone
Because your brand’s success via smart speakers is determined by user experiences, measuring and optimizing these experiences is essential. This is likely to be another big challenge in 2021, especially for the modern marketeer who is used to testing, measuring and optimizing everything in detail.

Fortunately, there is hope, due to enough potential KPIs and metrics for voice marketing. For example, based on stored voice-activated messages, it should be possible to map the customer or service journey and identify any bottlenecks. By 2021, user statistics such as length of audio sessions and frequency of use should also be available to brands. The statistics from other channels, and possibly qualitative user research, form an excellent basis for measuring brand performance in this area and for optimizing communication, marketing and service programs.

In the coming years Dutch brands will also look at the possibilities to respond to the role voice assistants and smart speakers play in the way that the public changes their consumption of media. However, smart(er) brands are already laying the foundation for this by, among other things, making their media channels and search strategies futureproof. Pioneers will dare to experiment and – as soon as the first smart speakers in the Netherlands are available – use this innovation to reach and serve their target audiences.

International AIDS Society selects Edelman Amsterdam for AIDS 2018 Conference

Edelman announced today that it was selected by the International AIDS Society (IAS) to be the local communications agency to support the upcoming 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018), taking place on 23-27 July 2018 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Edelman is providing national and local media relations and content development support, as well as national communications strategy guidance, in the months leading up to the event, as well as onsite.

The International AIDS Conference is the largest gathering in the world on HIV and AIDS. First convened during the peak of the AIDS epidemic in 1985, this conference continues to provide a unique forum for the intersection of science and advocacy, and an opportunity to strengthen policies and programmes to ensure an evidence-based response to the epidemic. The conference also serves as a focal point to intensify political and financial commitments to AIDS.

“Through our work with global healthcare clients, we have been confronted with how many lives are still affected by HIV and AIDS,” said Arent Jan Hesselink, General Manager of Edelman Amsterdam.  “The Amsterdam office has a highly developed specialization in Health and Health Tech, and we’re proud to bring that expertise to support a world-changing organization such as the IAS.”

“It is important for us to build strong national and local media relationships in each host country of the conference,” said Mandy Sugrue, Communications Director, IAS. “Edelman’s passion and enthusiasm for AIDS 2018 really came through in the bid process for this position and we are looking forward to working with them to ensure that the conference communications and outreach efforts resonate and connect with our Dutch audiences.”

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