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Once a PR Girl, always a PR Girl

From fashion to education, say what?

So hi folks, I have gotten shot out of a volcanic explosion on the glittery north pole of fashion and landed in the south pole that can only be education. Say what? I know right. Now, I know Cameron Diaz's picture at the top can be rather misleading so no, I am not a teacher and have remained in public relations as a public affairs executive. 
Firstly, I have to say that I am so blessed to be able to have worked in my dream job for over a year. How many people, Singaporeans especially get to say that they have had the opportunity to live their dream? Scarcely any, unless you count the starving artistes which I would like to think most marketing / pr folks are in a sub-category of. Fashion PR was everything I wanted and more, but at the same time I found myself losing everything I had when it all begun. I did not have time to spend with my family and friends, I did not have time to maintain my blogs anymore, and basically, I disappeared off the radar from everyone except my company, clients and the media. To a large extent, I stopped functioning as me, but I started being an extension of my company, I become my job, and that was that. Don't be mistaken. I loved it, every single bit of it. I was involved in my clients' businesses like it was my own. My colleagues became my sisters, and the office cats became mine. Career-wise, I was in a good place but I realised that for everything else, I was not. 
There came a point when I realised that if I do not start spending more time with my family, having dinner with them and talking to them, there will come a day when I will regret it. I realised that if I do not become more available, when this career is over, I will have no friends nor any significant other to speak of. It did not help that most guys in the industry were gays which basically means that there was no chance for someone like me and there are so many gorgeous women in the industry, what chance do I have? I was also getting out of shape. Work = Late Nights = Late Dinner which is nothing but terrible to a young woman in her early 20s. What good is it if I have a career and nothing else? Poor health = bad looks , and without family and friends, I'm nothing. Hence my decision to keep my eyes peeled. 
I am one week into my new job and it is soooooo much more challenging that I ever expected. To get me to distinguish between the different technical terms for fashion and media work is heaps easier than understanding current affairs, and understanding that everything you say or do is imperative to how the outside world would perceive the institution that you represent, especially when it sits in such a giant spotlilight. It's not even the elephant in the room. It's as though the moon has landed on Earth.
I'm grateful for the opportunity I have been given to learn different skillsets and hone my skills as an all-rounded communicator as opposed to someone who is only good at doing fashion and beauty PR. Instead of going through the run of the mills, there is a lot more thought processing that ever before, and it is such a luxury to have the time to think through all of that. 
You will be seeing a lot more of me in the future. Meanwhile, stay tight and be good.

Conducting Interviews

If you want to be a successful PR professional, then there will come a time in your career that you will be made to host interviews, whether for print, TV or live. 

If you are lucky, you will have a senior to shadow during the first interview you conduct but if you are not, you might find yourself having to dive in head first like I did. 

The first interview I conducted was between that of a very seasoned journalist and the general manager at a luxury jewelry brand. What was I? A minion of a PR girl 6 months into her job with zilch interview experience under her belt. Being a first timer, I was afraid to take charge of the interview and pretty much sat there like a bystander 80% of the time and only interjected to pitch more about the latest collection the jewelry had to offer. 

Interview No. 2 sent my alarm ringing when a photoshoot was to take place and interviewee was not appropriately dressed, made up, nor had a bag that is fancy enough. Soldiered on and try to create as much a story as I could. 

Interview No. 3 for a TV beauty program, 10 months into my job with more authority in my blood. 

When conducting interviews, you will notice that the person who is getting interviewed has more nerves going around than yourself. As a PR professional, it remains your job to run the questions through with the interviewee, to calm the person and also to intercept when you see that the interviewee is near a breaking point emotionally due to stress. It is also your job to ensure that your interviewee looks as beautiful and dashing as could be, because the camera, rolling or still can be brutal. Most importantly, you have to be able to see the interview through the eyes of the producer and host and journalist and camera man and provide as good a steering wheel as you can so that both parties achieve their objectives. When the surrounding is set, stay close so that you can always be near to give a helping hand. 

While the first interview was nerve wrecking, conducting the TV interview was amazingly fun. That only comes because I was more assured with what I was doing and it was amazing to have the opportunity to see the interview through to fruition. I might not be in the industry for a long time, but I will always enjoy being a PR girl.

The Corporate Galatical Guide

This entry is not exclusive for people working in the PR industry, but applies across all sectors. This is just a few things I have learnt in my four years of working and I hope that it helps you avoid the bumps and roadblocks along the way!

<strong>1. Stay away from the gossip mill

The further you are from the gossip mill, the safer you will be. Trust me. Remember, words go around and at some point, it is going to come back and bite you right in the arse. Even if you do not take sides, by pure association with the group you hang out with, people have already form their impression of what they think your opinion may be. 

2. Colleagues v.s. Friends

When we step into the office on the first day of work, I believe most of us to be praying for great colleagues and to be invited to lunch with the team. The lucky ones have co-workers who become great friends even long after they stop working together. However, aside from the possiblity of not having any friends at all at work, there is a worse scenario where you thought you had a friend in a colleague, but s/he turns out to be a snitch, or a puppet player. 

Colleagues who have only known us for a short duration of time may not know us well but many people assume that they can understand people easily. They make assumptions and the next thing you know, shamboom! You are right smack in the middle of office politics which brings us back to point number 1. 

It will indeed be a great blessing to find great colleagues for they are the people we spend most of our waking hours with. At the same time, in times of crisis or when the blame game comes knocking around, tables can turn in the blink of an eye. 

Take the professional route and if need be, find your emotional support to get you through your days from friends outside of work. They are equally crucial, if not more important to push you forward when things are down. 

<strong>3. Social Media


</strong>Social media is a great tool for communication but very often, we fall prey to oversharing over these websites or inapporpriate usage during work hours. I used to tweet a lot when I did not have much work to do, complaining about how bored I was with work. Imagine how disasterous it would be if my twitter was public or if I have other co-workers following my account. 

I have heard of stories from HR personnel where candidates were rejected as they had previously made snarky comments about the company on twitter, or tweeted things that did not reflect favourably on their character. If you have to tech-diarrhea (I totally made up this word from verbal diarrhea), make sure your profile is private and very secure. We would not want those dirty laundry to air down the road would we?

Work smart, work hard, and stay out of the drama.

Feel free to add below if you have any tips to share.

5 Things I love about being a PR girl

#1 The feeling of satisfaction when a client calls me "dear" on the rare good days.

#2 The YAHOOOOOOOOOO moment when I hit my editorial targets faster than expected. *look left look right I hope I count it right*

#3 Meeting interesting people that I enjoy talking to when I attend events

#4 Meeting new people (because I am so lazy I would never voluntarily do it if it was not for work)

#5 I am in control on whether I fail or succeed.

Normal Gets You Nowhere

Finally, after Amazon lost my order and a lull time in between, I got my hands on Normal Gets You Nowhere. If you don't already know, Kelly Cutrone was the reason why I wanted to work in fashion pr. I was intrigued by the industry she worked in, the juxtaposition between its beauty and cutthroat-ness. Her first book, If you have to cry, go outside was a motivational pull for me to plant my ass into the industry, and I did. 

This second book however, feels like a rant after Kelly had too much to drink and popped too many a pill.

She does pull some interesting points such as the importance of putting things in print because there will always be some fuckheads out there to run your lives over, the importance of having a circle of friends/family who will be there for you no matter what, and that normal gets you nowhere. 

The whole idea of normal getting you nowhere is something that my good friend D and I always have very deep and long discussions on everytime he flies back from the UK. He is a creative who is still studying in the UK, and there is a part of him that dreads returning to Singapore because then, he will be on the outside instead of the inside, and he felt that the local scene was largely pretentious. I, on the other hand, had deviated from the path that was laid out for me a long time back because I simply did not want to follow the crowd anymore. The fact that D went to Central St. Martin's instead of University of London / London School of Economics where every other person on scholarship went to is an indication of what is the norm here, and what isn't. 

The pathway to success is not merely going against the norm to stand out for just any other reason. If that is the case, you can be a drug dealer on the street, or a prostitute. Hey, that's different right? Unless you become a massive Godfather persona or one of the golden age courtesean then no, such "career paths" will also get you nowhere. 

The idea of going against the norm is to open your eyes to things that you might not usually see on a regular basis. As Singaporeans, many of us have been conditioned to turn a blind eye when we see bad things happening around us. We shun from people who looks dirty, look down on the less educated and then there are those who balked at the sight of the less fortunate. 

From now till the end of 2012, I challenge you to do something different, to behave differently than what you usually do then come back and let me know if you see a difference in your life, or if it does open your eyes.

Help those in need, shelther that poor soul without an umbrella who is waiting for the light to change, and say yes when you usually would have said no.