Another Type of PR


I rarely ever want to talk about my work in the blogosphere.

I suppose if I were Steve Job, I would be proud to answer what I do for a living when being prompted at a social gathering, “Oh nothing much, you know, just inventing some computers and a smart tablet called an Ipad at my garage for the brand that has with the apple logo.”

Or that I deliver about a couple hundred babies a year including twins and triplets as an Ob-gyn.

How about running a successful chain of fusion restaurants at KL’s hippest spots (suddenly every type of food that is east meets west is called FUSION in KL now, I’m guessing that anything can go these days when you can even have a gelato with a Belacan flavor).

Even better, if I was a new age guru who has attained the best kept cosmic secrets to longevity— Surely that would make me the most sought after speaker for health-related workshops and fetch me a fat piggy among the rich and famous.

I’d be proud just to walk into the local wet market with any of the above feel-good who’s who descriptions, even if I only have enough cash to buy Kangkung that morning.

What significance could I possibly feel doing what I’m doing now then— planning for which newspapers to place ads and whether the press conference have reached a certain publicity mileage or if the promotion our team is planning helps achieve the sales target. I also cannot see how all these marketing tools such as advertising, promotion and the likes have anything to do with the whole gamut of human life.

Well, except for Public Relations (PR). PR is the one and only tool that is connected to the tapestry of life, of the complexity of human relationships with one another and not just with the media.

In marketing, PR is an important element to engage customers and the public harnessing the power of the media, to get a favourable angle in the news and to create ripples of desired marketing outcome.

In life, understanding the intricacy of human relations, much like public relations, helps businesses achieve long term partnership and short term gains, just because certain business owners do it right in their Personal Relationship, another PR . A coworker with great Personal Relationship skill also wins friends at the workplace— Here’s what they do:

1) It’s not just the food. At my first media lunch with some fashion editors, one of my ex bosses who is respected by many peers as a public relations doyen, taught me about the art of paying close attention to the details even when it’s just a lunch. Of course, we had a business proposition to pitch but it felt more like a happy gathering of friends than a business lunch.

Half way through the dim sum lunch and as this ex-boss was sharing a light moment with our media friends, she gently smiled at me while casting a sideway glance and quick signal of sort over the Chinese tea pot, reminding me to refill everyone’s tea cup. Oh shucks, like i’ve had an epiphany… I had completely immersed myself in the lunch and with the company so much so that I have forgotten to play a graceful host. I quickly got up and haven’t stopped observing and refilling others’ Chinese tea cups ever since!

2) Personal touch means everything. Corporate gifting is a common practice, but there’s nothing like receiving a personally signed greeting card from someone who calls you a friend. Every Chinese New Year, I receive greeting cards from business suppliers who squeeze 30 employee signatures under the printed corporate logo and no one, not the CEO nor the executive I deal with ever bothered to pen a personalized message eg “Gong Xi Fatt Choy” on the card. Are we making corporate gesture way too impersonal and too much of a business obligation? If the senders treat greeting card sending as just a business obligation, rest be assured the recipient feels it so too.

3) Thank you but no thanks. A friend has complained of her colleague who was just very tight lipped about her thank you. First of all, when she asks for a favour, she doesn’t care if you have other jobs on hand or that you have your own deadlines to chase. After you have helped her with a task such as a presentation, she would only respond with criticism and offered no thank you. It was no surprise that she never had any true friends in her work place. Regardless of one’s level of seniority and experience, a genuine thank you will always wins friends at work.

4) Don’t be late and don’t show up without an appointment. Really, unless you are my close friends or my husband that being late will be affectionately excused or a sudden show up at my office brings me an anticipated joy, in business 3pm is 3pm, no appointment made means let’s meet another day when I’m actually not rushing any critical deadlines.

5) Respect others. I have met many big shots and CEOs who walk into a room bringing the sunshine along when the whole office starts in a gloom on Monday morning. And then there are those high-level business associates who remember names of small fries like me (instead of preferring only to speak to my direct boss as if I am suddenly an invincible lamp post). Apparently you become respectable when you first respect the others.

At the next kids birthday party or friendly kiddie football league and if I ever got asked again about what I do for a living, perhaps I will just say I specialize in Public Relations for real life. Throw in all these observations and I’d be feeling like a guru.

Ms. Jessie J sings that everything comes with a price. Forget about the price tag as life lessons can be free when one observes and practices good PR skills.

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