In this exclusive interview, we had the opportunity to speak with Erdem Koch, a Communication Coach and PR Specialist who is also the Founder of Erdem Koch Consulting. With a passion for storytelling and realizing that journalism was his true calling, Erdem decided to opt for journalism despite being admitted to law school and has never looked back.
Discover the journey that led Erdem Koch to establish his present position aligning with his passion and interest. His creative endeavor and approach toward mastering communication for professionals and brands alike have been a game changer in the industry.
Explore with us as we delve deeper into Erdem Koch’s journey as he switched his career options, suiting several positions at innovative giants to eventually running his consultancy and evolving as one of the prominent communicators.
Please share a brief overview of your career journey, including key milestones and transitions.
I always thought I wanted to be a doctor, but I ended up going to law school and becoming a journalist instead!
I was born and raised in Australia to Turkish parents, and like most migrants, my mum and dad wanted me to have a noble profession – which is why it was always going to be either law or medicine! However, I quickly realized that I was much more into communication, so I began working as a radio journalist in my first year of university for the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) – Australia’s multicultural public broadcaster.
I then stinted at some of Australia’s leading newspapers, such as The Age and Herald Sun. From there, I worked for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), where my journalism career reached a crescendo when I had the privilege of being the Executive Producer of Insiders. This live political discussion show was the highest-rating breakfast television program at the time.
After a few years, I decided that I wanted to develop my skills in public relations, so I took a job as the Head of Communications for a tobacco company. Now, tobacco is one of the most controversial industries in Australia, and so this was a tough decision. But I knew at the time – and even more so now – that it would be the best place to learn the art of PR and crisis management.
After four years there, I moved to the UAE for a job at TikTok, where I’ve been responsible for improving the product’s reputation and telling its story in the region. Now, I run my consultancy, where I coach individuals and help brands master the art of communication.
That’s quite a range of experiences and industries. If you had to sum it up in a sentence, what would you say defines your career?
Helping change perceptions and developing new narratives!
That’s the job I’ve had at most places I’ve worked – and I get a real sense of satisfaction when I’ve achieved precisely that.
So you have tried a lot of different jobs in different industries – what’s the thing you enjoy the most?
Any environment that allows for one-to-one interaction where you can help the other person – it’s why I love my coaching so much!
As I embarked on my PhD in Australia, I also taught journalism at the same university, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Seeing the progress in people, whether you’re teaching them a particular skill or giving them knowledge they can use, has always been a highlight in every job I’ve had.
And yet, many of the PR jobs you’ve had have been for controversial companies. Was it difficult trying to sell a specific message for these brands?
Of course, it was – but that’s where the beauty of the job lies. In our modern, hyper-connected world, every company lives on the edge of disaster. Every brand has unique challenges, and at the same time, every brand has a good story to tell. In today’s polarized world, it’s often the extreme voices that lead the debate – and my job has been to tell the version of the story that might get left out.
Who are the individuals that come to you for communications coaching?
I have clients from the corporate world, ranging from CEOs to entry-level employees, looking to up their game in conveying ideas, negotiating, and leading their teams to success.
Then, there are public speakers aiming to rock the stage, be it at TED Talks, conferences, or special events. They want to sharpen their speaking skills, boost their stage presence, and build confidence.
Job hunters are a significant cohort as well. They come to me to improve their interview and networking skills because mastering these skills can make all the difference in landing that dream job.
And one of my favorite groups is non-native English speakers working on their language proficiency and pronunciation. They know that good communication is vital to fitting into English-speaking countries.
So – anyone and everyone! I think people realize that communication is such a critical skill to master. When you think about it, communication lies at the heart of everything we do.
What’s your purpose here, if you could narrow it right down?
It’s an excellent question. It’s ultimately to make communication easier and help people shine as a result. Imagine all the problems we could solve if we communicated effectively. If I can help a handful of people to achieve that, I’ll leave this world as a pleased man.
What are your plans or goals for your career and company?
It’s a tricky question. I stopped worrying about the future a while back, and I’ve been happier since. Of course, I want to grow my consultancy and career!
But my daily mission is to embrace each moment and live in the now. I’m the father to a three-year-old girl, and both she and my wife mean the world to me. I try to focus on what matters most – my family and the people I help through coaching. I want to be the best version of myself, not just for my career but for them, too. I see the future as a series of present moments. If I do my best in each moment, the future will take care of itself. And that’s the philosophy I aim to instill in those I coach.
It’s a simple approach, but it brought me a lot of contentment, and I hope it can inspire others to do the same.
What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned in your career? Erdem Koch
Relationships are everything. Companies and organizations get obsessed about what they’re delivering – which is not a bad thing – but they forget that behind the what is a who.
There’s someone with thoughts and emotions and goals and ambitions and own agendas who will be deciding whether what that you’ve produced is of any value to them.
And so understanding people and developing solid relationships are crucial to success – and it’s one of those things that I’d say to my 20-year-old self if I ever had a chance to go back in time!
You’re very active on LinkedIn and post regularly about communication skills and techniques, as well as stories about your daughter. What is it about that platform that entices you to do so?
I wrote a LinkedIn piece about this; would you believe it? LinkedIn is a melting pot of our professional and personal lives. Contrary to what some people might think, it is about more than just polished resumes and corporate jargon.
It’s a place where we professionals, who are real-life humans, come together to share our stories, experiences, and quirks.
We’re not just robots with job titles – we’ve got personalities, passions, and families, too! In fact, of all my posts, the ones that get the highest engagement are stories about my daughter and what she teaches me about fatherhood. Besides, I think that’s far more captivating content than posting a picture at a conference saying how delighted I am to be hearing from so-and-so.
You come across as an excellent communicator. How have you developed your skills over time?
I appreciate the compliment; thank you!
As with anything, practice, mastering the art of communication is like learning to play a musical instrument: you’re terrible at it initially, you don’t quite know what you’re doing, and you probably sound terrible!
But in time, particularly as you self-reflect and have feedback, you hone those skills and gradually find your voice. I was a pretty shy kid, and so my mum put me in theater classes at the age of eight. Some would say I haven’t stopped performing since then, but it’s on the stage that I learned how to use voice and body language, tonality, and the like to get people to listen to what you’ve got to say.
And today, I’m in the privileged position of being able to teach others the same!
How can people reach out to you?
All my details are on my website, www.erdemkoch.com!
Connect with Erdem Koch on LinkedIn.