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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.

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.

Employee Experience in 2018: From Concept to Practice

2017 was abuzz with discussion and debate on the coming-of-age term Employee Experience or EX for short. Like all catch-phrases, it was bandied about with much gusto, sometimes nervously (and other times recklessly) in the corridors of HR and Employee Engagement conferences worldwide, and covered prolifically by all self-respecting media writing on business and the future of workplaces.

So… what is EX? Broadly, we at Edelman see it as the day-to-day reality of working in an organization as experienced by employees – their experience of Leadership, Human Resources, Communications, People Managers, peers and other external influences combined. This ranges from structural actions like an Employee Value Proposition (EVP), Career Pathing, Internal Communications, Employee Engagement initiatives and other perks to perceptual factors like the organization’s employer brand, reputation and credibility in the marketplace.

We have been busy unpicking what this means for our clients and more specifically, how we can support them as they transition – both in mindset and in action.

As you might have guessed, we’re strong advocates for professionalizing EX and finding a red thread that binds it together with a tight and actionable strategy to deliver an integrated, holistic employee experience. With organizations being under pressure to develop a future-proof workforce and CEOs wide awake to their own roles as Chief Engagement Officers, we believe 2018 will be the year when EX transitions from concept to practice, from a lofty notion to a business-critical need.

Here’s a starter kit with three first steps to consider as you look to design and deliver on this:

1. Set up an Employee Experience committee: The first step towards any transformative measure is setting up a taskforce comprising the right mix of representatives who are both empowered and motivated to drive this process of integration. Typically, this would include:
o The CEO – who has a vision for (and stake in) the kind of organization you’re building
o Human Resources – whose core task is to ensure all recruits are engaged and retained. Identify 2-3 representatives who are leading programs that touch employees directly such as career pathing, learning and development, employee engagement evaluations, employee benefits and perks, among others
o Communications – the voice of the organization and therefore the most credible vehicle for change. Here too, select 1-2 representatives across internal and external communications that drive content and channel strategy, social engagement, leadership communications, etc.
o Citizenship – 1-2 representatives from the team managing and driving citizenship programs that include employee-facing or employee-involving initiatives around diversity and inclusion, health and wellbeing, sustainability, volunteerism
o Others – You could always consider 1 or 2 employees from within the organization for an outside, grassroot-level understanding and pulse. This depends on the size of the organization and the viability to select employees to represent the entire organization

2. Initiate an Employee Experience audit: Step two is the committee working together to understand and visualize the vast landscape of Employee Experience. This involves mapping the various touchpoints in an employee’s journey and identifying the different forces at work that influence or have the potential to influence these touchpoints. This is very similar to what sales teams have done for ages to improve customer experience. Take a moment to reflect on additional forces like the company’s business performance, an ongoing or impending transformation program, change in leadership and other unforeseen events likely to play out and impact EX. Wrap up this step by identifying specific teams and individuals that own or are accountable for each of these forces – here you have your stakeholder universe all mapped out, well done!

3. Develop an Employee Experience strategy and roadmap: The third and most important step of course is nailing down concrete goals, a strategy and implementation plan for EX. A strong starting point is to work off insights from either a recent employee engagement survey or initiate a pulse check specifically designed for this purpose, in combination with interviews with relevant stakeholders. Evaluate gaps and opportunities and use all of this ammunition to articulate a simple and clear strategy to achieve your goals. Follow up with detailed implementation plan to activate with sponsors, owners, timelines and evaluation moments built in. Sense check against the overall business strategy to ensure it aligns and contributes.

Integration is the name of the game and we cannot emphasize enough the importance of a well-thought through and well-intentioned plan to deliver a consistent, inspiring and enabling experience to your people.


A version of this post originally appeared on Adformatie

The majority of marketers now use data to make campaigns more targeted, personal and effective. Yet there is a lot of progress to be made. Many marketers see at least as many opportunities as challenges when using data. The technical aspects, bringing data from different internal sources together and keeping data up to date are seen as important obstacles. In addition, there often is a lack of staff with the right competencies, as shown earlier this year by the IAB Digital Marketing Innovation Research. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to achieve maximum effect with relatively little effort. Therefore, we listed five ways to effectively contribute to your communication and marketing goals, using data: Low effort, High impact!

1. Make smart use of existing algorithms

Both Google and social media – such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – provide highly advanced opportunities for advertisers to make use of the giant data sources of these platforms, and to reach the right audiences with your content.

According to a social media user perceptions study by Dutch research institute SWOCC, there is still a lot to gain in this area. Especially on Facebook: a mere 17% of the users experience brand communications as useful or entertaining.

A traditionally strong focus on reach is one of the main reasons for the lack of success of brands on social platforms. The focus should be on segmenting audiences and matching your content to their specific needs. By utilizing the large amount of demographic and psychographic data that Google, Facebook and others provide, you can respond effectively to your target audiences’ (latent) needs.

2. Facilitate the dialogue with data

Although most companies increasingly understand how to reach and get to know their customers, the online business-customer dialogue is still rare and cost-intensive. That is why many companies are looking at automated forms of customer service; e.g. by introducing chatbots that provide value to their customers by assisting them in retrieving some kind of information. And through automated and intelligent use of data for service purposes, to enable service agents to communicate faster and smarter with customers using AI (Artificial Intelligence) solutions.

But how can you add value and automate the online dialogue in the customer journey, marking multiple touchpoints at the same time? Using chatbots in earlier stages in the customer or stakeholder journey will create a more personal experience and have greater impact of your brand communications. Consider a chatbot on Facebook for instance, helping your customers make the right choice in product via just a few questions and additional data sources.

3. Create a more personalized website

Websites are traditionally designed to inform, facilitate or focus on action or transaction. Analysis of website-use however shows us that customer goals are often not achieved and have less impact on knowledge, attitude or behaviour than marketers hope for.

96% of marketers are convinced that a personalized experience enhances the connection with the brand and 88% believe that their customers also expect a personal experience in brand communications. Nevertheless, only 58% make use of the possibilities for personalization of the website and its homepage. Enough reason to start doing so right away!

Use the advanced possibilities of your websites’ data to your advantage by personalizing the customer journey, based on location, behaviour, demographic and psychographic variables. This way, the website increases in relevance with each visit. You can also take it to the next level by creating a conversational interface, intensifying the customer-centric experience. By using chat or speech controlled input, the automated online dialogue can be used to provide both information and service in the most optimal way.

4. Make e-mail marketing more relevant

E-mail marketing can often be used in a more effective way – one size doesn’t fit all. Most men are not dying to see the newest collection of dresses in their inbox and marketers will probably not click on a newsletter that covers an unfortunate quote by a spokesperson.

Most marketers see eye to eye on that. According to a Dutch survey, 78% thinks you achieve better results with personalized and segmented e-mails. However, a mere 29% actually use customer behaviour to send relevant e-mails and only 9% uses predictive content: relevant content, based on historical user data, to target similar customers and trends.

By using data that maps the behaviour of your subscribers, based on interactions with the content you published on your website or in your newsletter, you can create a drumbeat that ensures every subscriber will receive a newsletter based on his or her interests and needs. This is based on interactions on your website, time spent on pages, which type of content is most read or interactions by similar subscribers. Linking different data sources, like your CRM system and the statistics of your website, can be a very useful tool.

5. Base your strategy on real-time data

As a marketer, it is tempting to make strategic decisions and develop campaigns based on assumptions or data you already have. In fact, research shows that half of the marketers still make decisions based on assumptions or gut feeling. There are so many data points available to get real insights into how people talk about your brand, products, competitors or other topics that are of interest to you. It’s not just words being analysed. Visual analytics are more accurate than ever: logos, objects, products and people in photos and videos can be recognized and analysed as well. These kinds of analytics are essential considering the rise of visual social media such as Instagram and Pinterest, as well as the increase in video consumption.

Insights in real-time data are necessary in order to react in times of crises. They are perhaps even more crucial to be able to look ahead. What insights can I use from all this data, how can I anticipate on this and how can I leverage this in my strategy? By looking at what is being said, by whom and with what sentiment? You can even identify predictive trends from the data, which in turn give you an incentive to make real-time decisions in your campaign or strategy.

The first step is setting up a real-time dashboard, so that you can see the conversations and sentiment around your brand at any time of the day. There are a large number of tools that can provide you with online data. To set up a truly effective and usable dashboard, it is essential you link it to other data sources as well. For example, adding brand research or a reputation tracker ensures that there is accurate information to base your campaign or decision-making on.

Edelman Amsterdam expands further with three new hires

Edelman Amsterdam has welcomed three new additions to its team. The new talent will contribute significantly to the firm’s ability to support current and future clients in developing and helping execute integrated communications and marketing strategies.

“Edelman Amsterdam has been making ambitious moves. We have transformed our offering and operations to provide fully integrated communications and marketing services to our clients. Bringing these three professionals on board marks a major step in our broader transformation,” said Arent Jan (AJ) Hesselink, General Manager of Edelman Amsterdam, who started in his role a year and a half ago.

Edelman Amsterdam introduces its new team members:

Kees Verheij will start at Edelman Amsterdam as Account Director. Kees’s expertise lies in consumer and lifestyle tech. As Account Director at Whizpr he built experience advising clients such as Expedia, Google, Groupon, HTC, Logitech, Marktplaats and YouTube.

Up-and-coming talent Stefan Luttik will starting as Assistant Account Executive. Stefan graduated from the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences a Bachelor in Communication Management, combined with a specialization in managing strategy & marketing at the University of Amsterdam. During his study he served as a marketing and communications intern at Ahold Delhaize and Albelli.

Earlier this year Robin van Daalen was hired as an Account Director and Financial Communications Specialist. Robin has eight years’ experience as Bureau Chief of The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswire’s Amsterdam offices. He started his career at ING. Robin’s addition to the team help’s the firm expand and strengthen its offering in financial and M&A communication and corporate positioning.

Edelman Amsterdam is an integrated communications and marketing firm organized around a number of core areas of expertise: Integrated Communications, Corporate Communications, Integrated Marketing Solutions, Brand Strategy & Activation and Digital & Creative.

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