By Aznan Mat Piah
CHALK is the acronym for Chat, Listen and Knowledge. Going back to school days, Chalk brings the connotation of school or classroom where the teacher would use a chalk to write on white board to explain to students on any topic. So, in simple terms, it symbolizes teaching and learning to acquire education and knowledge.
Using the chalk concept, the Institute of Public Relations Malaysia (IPRM) has strategically coined the term CHALK to excite practitioners to come forward and share their experience not only among practitioners from the public or the corporate sector to help improve on their profession, but also with university undergraduates who would soon join the communication and public relations industry.
A gathering of the third CHALK session was held at the Dataran Sastera, University of Malaya on 30 September 2014, which turned out to be welcomed by communication students and lecturers. The last two CHALKs were previously held among public relations practitioners in corporate premises amidst corporate environment. This time, IPRM chose to hold the event in a university campus.
Apart from the social gathering to allow networking, interaction and building of relations between the university students and practitioners, the participants were also exposed to a knowledge session where practitioners readily shared their professional experience, skills and tasks.
Jaffri Amin Osman, an experienced public relations practitioner from World Comm who was the anchorman for the knowledge session reminded CHALK3 participants of Pablo Picasso’s words of wisdom which read, “The principal enemy of creativity is good taste”.
“What does this quote mean to us?” he asked. He told the participants that as public relations practitioners, they should never be contented in their jobs.
“Once the practitioner feels contented, that spells the end for creativity and they would lose their competitiveness. Always move forward and be excited about new things or new development in life and in your job,” Jaffri added.
Jaffri gave his success formula where there’s the need for the public relations practitioner to strive to be number 1, must always seek repeat business (or continuously doing it), pay attention to PDC (Performance, Discipline, Creativity), always DRESS or take care of yourself (Drink, Read, English, Sleep and Spiritual belief), and to apply the DAMN IT principle (Diary, Attendance, Money, Notebook, Integrity and Teamwork).
In public relations, there’s always the need to act quickly especially during a crisis situation. He said in communication it is not so much the message that is important, but rather the messenger, hereby he’s referring to the public relations people as the individual. So there’s the need for the public relations executive or practitioner to make his or her individual effort to build good rapport with the media.
He gave the example of a situation, which his company had to handle to campaign and promote a health product (plaster product to stop snoring) by a known pharmaceutical company in the media. As a public relations consultant, he said his company had a difficult time to strategies their publicity campaign to attract the media to focus attention and coverage on the product and product launching for the client.
He mentioned they had to resort to different techniques and creativity in their approaches to convince and capture the attention of the media. Which media would bother to focus on such a product that concerns with snoring, he asked the participants? So there were so many challenges the company had to face to bring to public attention about the product through the media. This can be a classic case studies for public relations involving media relations.
Finally their strategies worked and he showed evidence of the publicity that appeared in both the print and the electronic media. The product and the product launching drew excellent attention in the media and indeed there were overwhelming coverage in the media. All was done through sheer hard work and excellent media strategies.
Tengku Adrian who was with Maybank and Global FELDA Ventures previously spoke of the need for public relations people to have both patience and passion in order to deliver a good job. He also said public relations executives should develop relationship as they progress within the organisation.
“You need not have to feel inferior of having to deal with the media because you can start making your contact with the reporters,” he added.
“Being a young executive you may not have access to someone in a higher position in the media. Leave that to your boss to handle, but you can start with building contact with a young reporter. In no time, the reporter will also move up in his or her position in the media, and you too will move up the ladder in your organisation,” he added.
Former journalist and now public relations practitioner, Shikin, shared her experience in handling the media where her early years in the industry had taught her a lot of lessons. She said the situation she was in often put her to tears when she faced difficulties to get the media to cover the events hosted by the organisation she worked for.
Each time she faced a problem she would call her colleague for help but her appeal was rejected and she was told to learn for herself. But she said she had gone through the experience and finally learned the hard way. Finally, she said, what is most important is to make people interested in you and to make them remember you.
“This is only achievable if you have the passion for the job,” she said.
Earlier the President of IPRM, Dato’ Ibrahim Abdul Rahman spoke of the importance for public relations practitioners to be global in their outlook and be sensitive of intercultural relations and cultural norms and values of others. He shared his experience following his recent attendance at the World Public Relations conference in Madrid organised by Global Alliance of the importance of multilingual, to pick up foreign languages and understand foreign culture in a globalised world.