Having built award-winning public relations businesses based in the United States, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Canada – and with one of the largest social media communities in the PR world – Bob Pickard is a respected leader in the international communications industry. He was listed as the only Canadian in PR Week’s 2015 ‘Global Power Book’ of the industry’s most influential executives.
Bob has more than two decades of experience focused on providing counsel and creating communications campaigns for senior business leaders in North America and Asia-Pacific (including, over the years, coaching hundreds of executives and personally advising Bill Gates, Donald Trump, George Soros, and Nicky Oppenheimer). His clients have included Astra-Zeneca, Bayer, De Beers, Goldman Sachs, Government of Canada, GSK, Hewlett-Packard, Huawei, ING, Johnson & Johnson, Kia Motors, Merck, Microsoft, Nissan, Nomura, PayPal, Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, Senvion and Standard & Poor’s.
Based at Toronto, Bob focuses on providing counsel to clients on image, issues, relationships and reputation. He is the founder and president of Signal Leadership Communication Inc., specializing in social media and PR counsel for executives and organizations dealing with digital disruption. He also serves as an Executive Fellow for the Center for the Future of Organization (CFFO), an independent think tank at the Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University.
Before Signal, Bob was Chairman for Asia-Pacific of The Huntsworth Group based at Singapore, with senior leadership of the regional business for global communications consultancies such as Citigate Dewe Rogerson, Grayling, and Huntsworth Health.
Winner of the ‘PR Agency Head of The Year’ at the Asia-Pacific PR awards in 2012, Bob served Burson-Marsteller as its Asia-Pacific CEO where, for three years until 2013, he led and expanded a 38-office network of owned and affiliate operations across 16 regional markets with more than 1,000 employees. He fostered the creation of the global firm’s Beijing-based energy practice and was a catalyst for the development of its portfolio of Asian multinational clients.
From 2002 until fiscal year 2009, as Edelman’s Managing Director for Korea and later as North Asia President, Bob grew the firm’s business in the region ten times larger. This included leading the Seoul operation to record growth as Edelman’s largest market in Asia-Pacific (named ‘Consultancy of the Year’ at the PR Week Awards in 2004 and two years in a row the firm’s ‘Office of the Year’), as well as market entry into Japan, establishing the firm’s Tokyo office in a 51-49 partnership with the Edelman family.
Bob first went to Asia after a successful 12-year career in North American public relations. He was Executive Vice President of Environics Communications, a leading Canadian PR firm that he co-founded in 1994. In 1996, he opened the firm’s New York-area office and in so doing, established the first Canadian-owned PR agency in the U.S. market. Before then, he was a Vice President at Hill & Knowlton Canada, where he founded the firm’s technology practice and captained international communications projects, including global media relations for Canada’s transfer of energy technology to the Republic of Korea.
A member of the Canadian delegation to the UN Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro Brazil in 1992, Bob has a long record of involvement in sustainability issues and has been a speaker on CSR in Asia at APEC, Economist Intelligence Unit, and World Economic Forum conferences.
Prior to working in the PR industry, Bob was active in public affairs and served as a political aide to Canadian federal Cabinet ministers, including the country’s 16th Prime Minister. A graduate of Canada’s Queen’s University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Studies, Bob frequently delivers campus lectures and provides commentary on topics such as climate change communications, digital storytelling, leadership communication, the psychology of persuasion, the latest trends in social media as well as marketing for the next generation of multinationals.
Over the years, Bob has often appeared in the Canadian and global media, including BBC World News, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, CBC News, Channel News Asia, China Central Television (CCTV News), The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, The Wall Street Journal, etc.