Clarity is proud to offer fearless marketing and communications consultancy to the world’s most progressive companies. We’re able to do this so successfully because we hire sharp-minded specialists from around the world that provide best-of-the-best services to our clients, as well as continuously upskilling our team on the latest sector developments, and how we can integrate them into our work.
Our blog series ‘Five Minutes With…’ shines a spotlight on our experts around the world, diving into what their team provides, what they’re proud of, and a bit more about them as a person. Check out our past Q&As with Measurement & Analytics specialist Phil Wade, and Public Affairs leader Nick Lansman.
In this edition, we speak with Robyn Sefiani, Clarity’s President ANZ. Robyn is the fearless founder and CEO of Sefiani, the award-winning, Sydney HQ-ed arm of Clarity. Over to you, Robyn!
What’s your elevator pitch for what Sefiani offers?
Sefiani is a leading strategic communications and reputation management firm working with clients to achieve positive impact. We help build, enhance, and protect corporate and brand reputations by navigating the issues that matter, in the channels that matter, at the times that matter. We tell stories, create ideas, facilitate connections and develop thought leadership that earns attention, builds trust and advocates change for a better future.
What does your team do that drives the most impact for clients?
Sefiani people are smart thinkers and agents of change working with clients for positive impact. In an environment where the actions and behaviors of corporates and brands are heavily scrutinized and commented on by regulators, shareholders, employees, customers and activists we revel in complex, challenging briefs that are purpose-led. We immerse ourselves in our clients’ businesses to find opportunities wherever they are looking to have a voice, build a profile, influence behavior, encourage investment, attract and retain employees and contribute to the community.
Increasingly, our role is to help our clients establish and showcase themselves as responsible businesses building trust and connection with their stakeholders. We do this by crafting messages that resonate, telling compelling stories, profiling leaders and their views on topics that matter, and developing thought leadership platforms to demonstrate organizations and brands are acting responsibly across sustainability, the quality products and services they offer, workplace culture, financial success, social impact, D&I, ethics and governance.
Importantly, we also help defend companies through crisis situations. Our expert issues and crisis management team helps organizations be crisis ready by identifying and prioritizing risks that could harm reputation. This sees us running crisis drill exercises and tough media training scenarios to ensure spokespeople are confident no matter how confronting a media interview may be. We actively encourage our clients to take positive action to ensure the crisis incident cannot happen again, and we develop crisis response materials to keep all stakeholders informed through multiple channels as a crisis unfolds.
What work has the team done that you’re really proud of?
Over the past 23 years, Sefiani has achieved positive outcomes for numerous local and global clients with whom we work on a commercial basis, as well as providing pro bono support for causes we care deeply about.
We love helping our clients drive progress through sustainability initiatives, technology and innovation, and the delivery of quality services and products which enhance business and living outcomes. We’re proud to work with amazing clients like EY, Airbus, DocuSign, Arcadis, Allen & Overy, Expedia Group, McGrathNicol, and Generation Life to name just a few.
We’re proud of our work with Henkel, a world-leading FMCG brand based in Europe, that reached out to us directly from Dusseldorf, Germany, because of our proven sustainability communications experience and capabilities. We’ve been working with Henkel for over two years to help develop and embed sustainability into their brand communications by building bespoke messaging blueprints across their brands and categories. The latest multi-brand campaign called It Starts With Us is currently being rolled out across Europe, encouraging behavior change and inviting consumers along on the sustainability journey, helping them reduce their own environmental footprint – have a look here.
With cyber-attacks being one of the biggest threats facing governments and organizations, we are also proud to work with global cybersecurity and endpoint protection company Crowdstrike. When we were first engaged, the company was seen as a ‘disruptor’ in the cybersecurity sector, so when CrowdStrike’s US-based co-founder and CEO visited Australia, we sought to challenge that perception and establish CrowdStrike as an emerging leader. After securing a series of top-tier media interviews for the CEO, we have consistently positioned CrowdStrike executives as subject matter experts, regularly sought for media comment in Australia. We continue to support CrowdStrike’s thought leadership and high-profile media presence and have been impressed to see the company’s growth into one of the world’s largest and most valuable cybersecurity companies.
On the social impact side, one of our proudest achievements came from the pro bono help we offered a victim of intimate image abuse to ultimately get laws changed in Australia. Through a sustained 18 month campaign we heightened media, public and political awareness of the issue and consequences for victims, and secured the support of the NSW Privacy Commissioner, a retired high court judge and the community through Change.org. The significant outcome was legislative change at both state and federal level, criminalizing the non-consensual sharing of intimate images in Australia.
Another example saw us work with anti-bullying advocate and First Nations mother, Murri woman Yarraka Bayles, to bring to light the true story of her son Quaden Bayles who had been relentlessly bullied online, globally, because of his disability. We collaborated with a global law firm who acted to remove trolls from social platforms while we worked with the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) on an Australian Story program to set the record straight. The result was About a Boy, a half-hour prime time TV program, which told Quaden’s true story and gave hope to parents and children affected by bullying and discrimination. You can give it a watch here.
Can you give us a whistle stop tour of who is who in the Sefiani team?
As agency founder, I lead Sefiani’s growth strategy across Australia and New Zealand and into Asia, as part of the Clarity Global Group, while providing reputation counsel to clients at a senior level. Our Australia/NZ operations are very capably led by Managing Director Mandy Galmes. Our stellar senior team includes Nick Owens, Director, Corporate & Reputation; Tina Peng, Director, Finance & Operations; Julia Hoy, Head of Sustainability Communications (and CommsCon 2022 PR Professional of the Year); Senior Account Directors, Georgia Bennett and Iain Waterman; Nicole Thurston, Director Strategy & Creative; Lyndsey Gordon, Senior Consultant, Consumer; and Taylor Campbell, Content Director, who leads our integrated activity. Check out our ‘People’ page for an overview of the whole team.
Team Sefiani is energized and aspirational for our clients, ourselves, and each other. Clients say we’re smart, professional and friendly. Our culture is inclusive and supportive, and everyone is respected and valued no matter their level. Continual learning and mentoring (up, down, and sideways) is a core part of our every day. Our common goal at Sefiani to be Agents of Change for positive impact gives us a common purpose – we’re a happy and cohesive team!
Tell me about YOU! How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in rural NSW where my father was a country school headmaster. Each time Dad was promoted we moved to a bigger country town, so I learnt from a young age to adapt and embrace change, build new friendship groups and connections, be a good listener and be able to talk to anyone. I also saw first-hand the impact of disadvantage on rural, remote and First Nations communities. These experiences shaped me and my career choice.
I went to Charles Sturt University where I obtained a BA in Communications ahead of going straight into a PR role with a government department. I then traveled in Europe for two years to get a wider view of the world, and returned to Sydney into corporate communication roles. I then moved into consulting and became a partner in a Sydney firm that was acquired by Edelman. This launched the next chapter of my career, for which I’m forever grateful. I spent 12 years at Edelman and was Co-President Asia Pacific and a director on the global Board, by the end of my tenure. I had the pleasure and privilege of working directly with Edelman’s founder and PR pioneer, Daniel J. Edelman who taught me the fundamentals of how to operate a successful agency and build enduring client relationships, which I practice to this day.
Sefiani was launched out of the front room of my house in December 1999, and six months later we were running communications and issues management for VISA, a top sponsor of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. I had to hire a team pretty much overnight to support this mammoth project, and that time was one of the highlights of my career.
From the outset, my goal for Sefiani was to be a world’s best practice corporate communications firm providing strategic counsel to the C-suite. We’ve stayed true to this goal, but as we’ve grown, we’ve diversified our services and sectors to become a full-service integrated communications agency across brands as well as corporates. We were thrilled to be named Australia’s Midsize Agency of the Year at the 2022 Mumbrella CommsCon Awards and are a finalist again this year. I was also honored to be named Australian PR Leader of the Year, which means a lot to me given this was judged by my professional peers.
Being acquired by Clarity in January 2023 was an exciting and natural next step for us. We work with many global clients and wanted to be part of a global agency where we could exchange knowledge and unlock teams in other regions on behalf of our clients. We were also keen to access Clarity’s leading-edge digital marketing and data analytics capabilities for our clients and open up new career pathways for our people.
Finally, a fun one – what’s the most fearless thing you’ve ever done?
You know that saying “all work and no play”… I try not to let that happen. So, when I celebrated a milestone birthday, I decided to make it a ‘year of adventure’ where I’d tick off some long-time personal goals from my bucket list. The three most exciting things I did were driving a borrowed Lamborghini, sailing around Santorini, and hot air ballooning over Cappadocia in Turkey. I was pretty anxious about the ballooning, but it was the most incredible experience and I’m keen to do more in other parts of the world. Top of my wish list now is ballooning over the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and Sedona in Arizona. I’ve driven through Arizona and Utah and love those stunning landscapes.
I’m also about to tackle another fear and start snorkeling and diving lessons to explore the beautiful marine reserve, Cabbage Tree Bay, off Manly Beach in Sydney. I’m assured the wobbegong sharks which nestle on the sandy floor are harmless. My partner and friends, who are snorkeling enthusiasts, are determined to help me encounter the beauty of Cabbage Tree Bay as it should be experienced, under the water. Wish me luck!
Want to find out more about how we can support your business Down Under? Contact team Sefiani here.
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