Meet the Team : PR Director Cecilia Tan

We Talked To…Cecilia Tan, Principal Consultant, Publicist PR
Can you tell us about your background in communications and how it helped to shape Publicist PR?
Having worked in media, corporate communications and PR for over 15 years, (six years in-house including a regional branding role in Eastern Europe and five years in two other agencies, I am fully at ease with mapping out campaign strategies on the go for clients. The opportunity to work with SME clients was invaluable. It allowed me to provide more personalized attention to clients’ needs and gave me the chance to express my quirky creativity.

In my former role as a Regional Brand Manager, I spent the bulk of my time sourcing and short-listing agencies. While the big guns gave the best results for ATL campaigns, it was the boutique agencies that gave us the best performance in PR. In my personal opinion, performance, ability and enthusiasm outranks size. I recall receiving hundreds of press clippings from boutique PR agencies because they had the right connections and relationships. It inspired me to venture out myself with this philosophy - to strive to establish strong media relations and deliver results.

To this end, my team likes to think of ourselves as storytellers. We enjoy the challenge of weaving fresh insights, new ideas and angles to give a refreshing take on a familiar story.

What sectors are Publicist PR strongest in and what do you see as your major growth opportunities in 2016?
Retail PR has always been the heartbeat of our agency. Some of our first clients were retailers who saw our passion for crafting a good story. With the cut-throat competition in the retail industry, we see major growth opportunities for luxury brands by adopting innovative digital marketing techniques.

We are fortunate to have represented some of the top fashion and beauty brands. The experience proved that success hinges on more than analytics. What’s crucial is the ability to anticipate and create fashion trends. You know a PR campaign has done well or a relationship with a fashion influencer has worked when the store faces the happy problem of an out-of-stock situation.

We have been on a steep learning curve from 2014-2015 working with tech start-ups. I personally enjoy the adrenalin rush of keeping pace with technology PR and relating it back to everything we do. I love injecting fashion into tech and infusing glamour into medical matters. For 2016, we want to help more retailers conquer the changes in shopping trends and the negative momentum in their brick and mortar stores.

What makes a great fashion PR professional?
You need a love for arts and culture, curiosity and hunger for new experiences. It will help open your eyes to trends and help to create newsworthy angles.

A great PR person must also be personal yet meticulous in organizing press schedules. But besides scheduling anything from product loans to celebrity fittings, you need to make a press release sing.

When we started out, we were basically running to media offices with our press samples. We did not wait for stylists to approach us. Effective PR means delivering the clients’ kits into the right hands for maximum exposure i.e. putting brands in front of stylists, editors, influencers and celebrities.

What drew you to a career in PR?
I was a chatterbox who enjoyed telling stories and arguing. I had a good stage voice so despite my meagre acting skills, I would still win MC roles and that really helped build my confidence in script writing and media training. With my interest in literature since JC, I found character and plot analysis helpful in understanding customer psyche. Above all, I am one who loves using creativity to solve problems. I can't help but see the opportunities even in the darkest of situations.
Traditional vs new media?
The race is on as traditional media has become new media as readers are still hungry for reliable content. The rise of the social media influencers and the proliferation of bloggers makes it ever more essential to sift through information to spot the paid endorsements and biased content. With more than 50% of the media content consumed in the near future in digital format, we expect film students with a keen eye for moving visuals will be the next big thing.
Where do you get your news from?
I still read The Straits Times life! and Business Times and spend a lot of time on social media to keep abreast of trends. For inspiration, I subscribe to The New York Times, Monocle and New Yorker for great stories. Most importantly, I like speaking to people and listening to their stories. My job is such an occupational hazard that even at parties where I’m a guest, I chat with strangers and ensure that everyone has a drink - so much so that I am often mistaken for the host. Listening is the best way to pick up ideas and to stay current.
I am thankful to have had talented Journalists as my touchstones over the last two decades. Contrary to expectations, I have never had to pitch very much to experienced editors. They can recognise a good story when they hear one. They make every bit of my work a real pleasure.