Congratulations to Adam Harper on the launch of his new business, Ashbury Communications.
Adam Harper, Ashbury Communications
The recently departed head of comms for Greater China at HSBC is taking on a tough but important task – improving the quality of the spoken and written word among Asia’s leading banks and businesses.
“Words and images matter more than ever to the future of businesses,” says Harper.
“Content is becoming an integral part of corporate strategy as firms embrace its power to change perceptions and, ultimately, commercial realities.”
Harper ought to be good with words – he spent the early years of his career as a financial journalist with Euromoney’s sister publication EuroWeek, now GlobalCapital.
He joined HSBC in 2012, as head of communications for its powerhouse Asian banking and markets division, after a four-year stint at Credit Suisse.
Having done so in-house for more than a decade, his aim now is to help a broad range of clients – both Asian clients looking to build their brand recognition globally, and international firms aiming to grow in the region – across speeches for senior executives, opinion pieces, white papers, social media assets and preparation for media interviews.
Harper has seen first-hand how things can go wrong.
“I remember a senior executive at an investment bank taking to the stage to collect a major award,” Harper recalls. “It soon became clear that he was shooting from the hip as he spent 10 minutes on a post-mortem examination of the publication’s choices for the award in the previous three or four years and why they had been wrong until they finally got it right by choosing him.
“The executive probably thought he was just having a bit of fun, but the speech made him and his firm seem ungracious and insecure – and he was most likely remembered for the speech rather than winning the award. It could have been different if he had been prepared and taken some good advice.”
And what advice would Harper have given to said senior executive – who, we should point out, was not from HSBC and was not speaking at a Euromoney dinner?
“Speeches are a bit like golf swings,” says Harper. “Both are strange and artificial processes that can be made to appear natural because of skill and hard work – much more than talent – on the part of the speechmaker and his or her team.
“Like good golf swings, good speeches are the product of preparation and practice. When people disregard this reality and think that any fool can make a good speech, the speech can easily make a fool of them.”
Having seen Harper’s golf swing up close, we’re pleased he’s launching a business in a discipline that comes rather more naturally to him!