Telum Agency Profile: Sefiani

Telum has been creating a range of agency profiles to encourage networking, business opportunities and highlight great initiatives. This week they profiled Sefiani in the series. See our agency profile below:

What services does the agency offer?
As one of Australia’s leading strategic communications firms, Sefiani helps clients with communication that matters, often in issues-rich environments. At our core, we are a reputation management firm, both enhancing and protecting brands and corporate reputations. We do this through stakeholder communication and engagement – through media (traditional and social), government, investor, employee and direct communications and adjust the mix depending on the brief for business, government or consumer audiences. In addition, issues and crisis management is a speciality offering at Sefiani where we help organisations both prepare for and manage high-stakes situations. A lot of our CEO clients tell us they sleep well at night knowing we’re there to advise them when it really matters.

What size is the agency?
We believe what matters most is smart and creative thinking, deep sector knowledge and great connections, not size. As an independent Australian agency with a team of 15, and a senior advisory panel of eminent professionals, we punch above our weight with global clients who are sector leaders, like EY (Ernst & Young), Allen & Overy lawyers, Expedia Group, CrowdStrike, Dell, Northern Trust, L’Oreal and 3M. Our practice areas include corporate communications, investor relations, media relations, integrated brand campaigns, public affairs, employee and change communications, issues and crisis management.

Where does your agency have an office?
We’re happily housed in the heart of Sydney’s CBD and recently moved into new purpose-designed offices at 68 York St where we’re in a fabulous building within walking distance from most of our clients, although in-person meetings have been on hold during Covid. We’re in the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays, working from home the other three days, which works well for the team. But our reach is far beyond Sydney, as we are the non-exclusive affiliate of three global agencies who don’t have offices in Australia: APCO, Grayling and Ruder-Finn. They refer client work to us in Australia, and we reach out to them to help our clients anywhere in the world.

Do you have a particular area of focus?
As a full service agency we work across all industry sectors, but have a heritage and deep specialisation in financial and professional services where we relish the intellectually stimulating work. Other sectors of particular strength include technology (enterprise, scale-up and consumer), education, engineering and infrastructure, energy, industry associations, tourism, retail, agriculture and more.

Who is the founder and why did they start the agency? 
Robyn Sefiani established the agency two decades ago after 12 years in a senior Asia-Pacific role with Edelman where she was also on the global Board. Sefiani’s founding goal was to help CEOs and Boards with communication strategies to solve complex business challenges and seize opportunities. Today, our diverse team of consultants bring many different skills to the table, but our commitment to be a world’s best practice firm with personal service and local connections remains.

Tell us about the leadership team.
Our senior leadership team comprises Robyn Sefiani, CEO & Reputation Counsel; Nick Owens, Director and head of the Corporate practice; Nicole Schulz, Group Practice Lead, Brand; Nicole Thurston, Creative Director; and Tina Peng, Finance & Operations Manager. There’s a lot of collective IQ around the table when our whole Sefiani team gets together and we’re a happy and high performing bunch.

What is next for your agency? What is the five-year goal?
To continue to learn, evolve and grow as we contribute to our clients’ business success and achieve our own individual professional development and career aspirations at Sefiani; to remain a leader in brand and corporate reputation management as regulatory and community expectation intensifies on organisations to prove their social licence to operate; to focus on communication that matters in issues-rich environments; and to continue to give back to causes we care about.  It’s imperative to understand the daily and relentless pressures journalists are working under, to take the time to read

In a sentence, describe your ideal relationship with a journalist.
Mutually respectful relationships deliver best outcomes: we understand the pressures journalists are working under and the stories they want to hear about. When they can rely on us to deliver interesting, timely stories and interviews their audiences want to read/watch/listen to, it’s a win for both sides.

Tell us about a campaign you are currently working on or are particularly proud of.
Every so often, we as communicators have the opportunity to really make a difference.  Sefiani helped bring to light the true story of Quaden Bayles, the 9-year old indigenous boy with dwarfism, relentlessly bullied for his difference and disability. His desperate mother had posted a video of distressed Quaden on Facebook which went viral with 25 million views in two days, a GoFundMe page started by American comedian Brad Williams raised $700,000 and hateful social posts and death threats followed, alleging Quaden was an adult and the Bayles family were scammers. Law firm K&L Gates stepped in to deal with the trolls and death threats and sought Sefiani’s advice on how to set the record straight about Quaden’s age and disability. We worked pro bono to gather the facts, assemble interviewees across the globe to help tell Quaden’s story and approached ABC Australian Story who produced a half hour documentary dispelling the myths. You can view a webinar about how Sefiani and K&L Gates helped reclaim Quaden’s reputation and triumph over trolls here. 

Any key PR trends your agency is keeping an eye on?

  • Higher expectations of brands and corporations to be socially and environmentally responsible – consumers and investors will take their loyalty and money elsewhere if expectations aren’t met. Communicators need to anticipate and factor in the consequences of words and actions more than ever.
  • Authenticity of people and messaging: we’ve become accustomed to seeing real people on our screens sharing real moments and thoughts and that desire for authentic and unadorned communication will continue.
  • Feeling connected with effective and compassionate leaders: people want and expect to see and hear direct from political leaders and CEOs; messaging needs to be compassionate and show understanding of how constituents and employees are feeling and coping through challenging times. Joe Biden won an election on this.
  • Credibility and trust in traditional media duringCovid will likely continue and effective media relations remain highly valued by clients.
  • Technology, data and social listening will play a heightened role to monitor, tap into and measure consumer sentiment through good times and crisis situations.

What skillsets do you look for in new hires?
We look for people who are smart, energised, aspirational and collaborative with great inter-personal skills and strong verbal and written communication skills! In more senior roles, deep sector expertise, thought leadership, strong connections and a proven track record is essential.

This article first appeared on Telum Media