I was in primary school when, albeit unintentionally, I once managed to almost convince several of my classmates that Harry Potter was real. At the time, I was young and oblivious to the impact of which a penchant for storytelling can have. I only knew that I really, really wanted to be a part of the wizarding world. Now I am revisiting my affinity for telling stories and channeling it into the practice of public relations. In contemporary PR, using storytelling as a way of connecting effectively with consumers is more prevalent than ever, due to the “attention economy” and waning consumer engagement.
My fascination with public relations stems from my habit of critically analysing the scope and intent behind media publications regarding business, politics and entertainment. For example, the recent legal battle between two teahouse franchises in Malaysia: Tealive and Chatime. The facts of the case clearly state that Tealive has violated a legal contract previously set up between both parties. However, Tealive's public relations representatives were able to persuade the majority of Malaysians to support their brand, by selling them the classic narrative of David vs. Goliath, with Tealive cleverly being portrayed as the underdog to root for.
My primary motivation in applying to study a MA in Public Relations is to gain theoretical knowledge that I can anchor my future experiences to. Hitherto, my interest in PR has led me to gaining practical exposure to the industry. Throughout my experience as a junior PR executive, I find myself constantly intrigued by the intellectual complexities as well as the nuances in every situation, such as how the two-way symmetrical model proves to be a strategic advantage in one scenario while ineffective in another. Consequently, I am interested in pursuing a Masters in PR, as I believe it will grant me with an opportunity to understand major communication theories and principles, thus providing me a conceptual framework to understand the strategic nature of PR. I believe that immersing myself in practical case studies in lectures and learning from leading practitioners and academics will better my future career in the communications industry. In addition, I am interested in understanding how the rise of social media will potentially shape public relations. Some argue the digital world may render PR useless, but I think that social media can serve as a function of PR, in relation to how a company's online presence now effects its branding. A case study I found most interesting was how Domino's Malaysia crafted a ridiculing tweet to a popular figure and marshalled positive receptions out of it! Said strategically executed tactic received such popular reception, it was eventually picked up by several prominent online media outlets, which earned them a wider coverage. By attending this Masters, I aim to develop a comprehensive and critical awareness of the relationship between PR and the evolving digital landscape.
Within my current position with Zeno Group Malaysia, my tasks include writing press releases, organising event launches for clients, collating research to create top-line strategies for new client pitch decks and such. I believe that the practical exposure I have received, combined with the understanding of PR theoretical models I stand to gain through my academic studies, will help me develop an analytical approach to the practice of PR and its delivery across various sectors and channels. In addition, my previous internship experience with Bintang Capital, a private equity firm, has helped me gain a clearer picture of corporate finance, which has been highly helpful in my PR career, as a company's financial activities, in part, affects its brand and reputation. My inclination towards public relations can also be demonstrated through the additional roles I have participated in. Currently, I am the Communications Officer at The SOCIAL Project, a pro-bono management consultancy that specialises in providing strategic advice to charities and NGOs in Malaysia. The scope of my position consists of overseeing the ongoing network of communication that takes place, particularly those that revolve around the messaging and branding of the organisation. Previously, in my final year of my undergraduate degree, I held the position of marketing director for Hult Prize at UCL. I spearheaded the communications roll-out plan, ensuring that accurate and relevant information were disseminated in an engaging manner to our student body. This experience taught me how to tell craft a story around an event, in a way that would maximise its attraction to the target audience. My active participation in the aforementioned activities also demonstrates my strong sense of initiative, team player spirit and time management skills. All of which I feel I would be able to contribute back to the university.
Ultimately, the opportunity to pursue a masters in Public Relations within a city with a storied history of PR and in a university that has well-established links to the industry is appealing to me, as it will allow me to gain access to one of the most fast-paced and progressive communications landscape in the world. I come from a country whereby the public relations landscape is still developing, and I believe the potential learning opportunities that lie within the juxtaposition I stand to be exposed to are plentiful. In the long-term, I plan to utilise the knowledge gained from my education for more than just my personal development, but also for the hopeful aim of being able to accelerate the PR industry in Malaysia.
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