Profile: Joachim Klewes, Edelman Europe - Crossing over PR boundaries/Having conquered the German PR market Joachim Klewes now takes on Europe

Joachim Klewes, the new managing director and CEO of Edelman Europe, has always been an entrepreneur: he set up his first company straight after university.

Joachim Klewes, the new managing director and CEO of Edelman

Europe, has always been an entrepreneur: he set up his first company

straight after university.

’I have been in PR all my professional life - even before I earned a

single pfennig. I was campaigning for a political party (a regional

branch of the Social Democrats) at university and I thought ’hey, let’s

make a profession out of this’,’ he says.

It was his entrepreneurial flair that attracted Edelman Worldwide

president and chief executive Richard Edelman. ’He ran a large company

for a number of years which gives him a huge advantage over someone who

has just run an office,’ Edelman says.

Klewes’ ’large company’ was Kohtes and Klewes, Germany’s largest PR

agency, which was created by the first management buy out from Hill and


His early years with H&K were happy. He gained valuable management

experience and learned a lot about international PR, he says. His first

really big job was sorting out its Frankfurt office, a process he

politely calls ’turning red figures into black’.

However, when Hill and Knowlton was bought by WPP, he found himself at

odds with its management style. ’A lot of people were not happy and I

terminated my contract on the same day as several other managers,’ he


Yet he has pleasant memories of sitting in a basement bar negotiating

with WPP chief executive Martin Sorrell to buy the German operation. The

agency started with 20 people and went on to become Germany’s biggest PR


Klewes sold up at the end of last year for ’a couple of very personal

reasons’ and because his personal philosophy dictates that one should

really not do something for more than ten or 12 years.

’I had done it for ten years and my ’baby’ had grown up,’ he says. ’I am

very much a developer, not someone who continues to do the same


Hence this year’s birth of k.brain, a specialist business consultancy,

which concentrated on international strategy and, unusually for the PR

industry, executive head-hunting. (Richard) Edelman approached him in

June and ’sort of seduced me’ with the offer of a substantial minority

stake among other things. ’I really like the management style, which is

a rare combination of listenin, talking and doing. There are companies

that have meetings and nothing happens, others go bulldozing in without

enough thought. Edelman achieves the right balance,’ he says.

Klewes sees his immediate task as moulding Edelman’s European offices

into a cohesive network. ’The group was built through a large number of

acquisitions during the last decade. Now I want to form it into one

group to improve our service and broaden our offer in every major

market,’ he says. ’We need to add to our competence in areas such as

corporate and financial PR and gain intellectual leadership. Then we can

develop international consultancy products,’ he says.

Observers confirm that Edelman needs to improve its profile. ’You don’t

get the sense that they are making much noise in the big international

pitches,’ says an industry observer. ’If you asked me to name the big

international groups I’d say Shandwick, Hill and Knowlton,

Burson-Marsteller and Porter Novelli. I wouldn’t really think of


He goes on to add that Klewes should first create a clearer position for

the agency, work hard at raising its profile and general awareness, then

appoint some high profile names.

A friend and former colleague of Klewes’ attests to his


Porter Novelli International chairman Peter Hehir says: ’He is very

goal-oriented. He has amazing drive and commitment to doing what he says

he will do, which is different from many people in this business.’



Director, Hill and Knowlton


Founder, Kohtes and Klewes


Founder, k.brain


Managing director/CEO, Edelman Europe

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