Jessica Man (pictured), managing director of Hong Kong at Sinclair, found the sense of success for the communications process and the impact PR could create way back in high school, when she took up student leadership positions and represented organisations on their external communications and organised creative campaigns.
During her 10+ years of PR career, Man has heard of plenty of misconceptions surrounding the industry such as PR is all about media relations, but rather it's one piece of a larger puzzle. She said PR work encompasses a broad scope of activities and strategies aimed at managing and influencing public perception, reputation, and relationships.
Find out more about Man's journey in public relations thus far and who inspires her.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Describe your management style.
Respect and humility are two essential qualities that I value in leadership. These qualities help me build trust-based relationships, foster open and honest communication, and allow me to lead by example.
By proactively communicating and seeking opinions from team members in different roles, I facilitate conversations that inspire new ideas and drive positive change.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What was your first PR gig?
My first PR gig was an internship with a local interior design firm during the summer after graduating from secondary school.
I was assigned the responsibility of securing potential partnerships with trade media and industry organisations. I had the opportunity to develop presentation materials, craft pitching messages, and actively participate in presentations. I honed my skills in persuasive storytelling and continuously improved through learning from feedback.
Although I faced challenges along the way, the rewards I gained from these experiences were truly fulfilling.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Why a career in PR?
PR seemed a natural path for me. In high school I took up student leadership positions and had the chance to represent organisations on their external communications and organise creative campaigns.
Doing this, I found a sense of success for the communications process and the impact we could create.
I was encouraged by friends and seniors at my university to pursue a career in PR. In fact, one of the senior alumni referred me to her company, which became my first PR job.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Who was the mentor who most influenced you and why?
I’ve spent most of my career within the agency landscape, and have had the chance to work with two very respectful agency leaders. One inspired me with her unique approach to managing conversations, emphasising the power of insights and the importance of authenticity in storytelling.
Another demonstrated how she prioritises people and adopts an open mindset that allows her to see things from different perspectives.
I strongly believe that embracing a growth mindset has expanded my vision and fuelled my passion for continuous exploration.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Your biggest blunder in your career? How did you resolve it?
I made a regretful decision to accommodate an extremely last-minute request that exceeded our limit. As a result, we were only able to meet 30% of the anticipated KPI. I took the feedback personally and struggled to sleep at night, feeling responsible for the outcome.
Fortunately, with supports from the team, we were able to suggest new approaches that not only met but exceeded the KPIs, while upholding the agency's reputation.
I am grateful for the supports I received and for the experience that taught me the importance of openness in professional consultancy.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Harshest thing said to you in your career?
A client rejected a creative idea and expressed that they only saw value in us as a support to "rely on our relationship with media to beg for coverage, by all means." This prompted deep reflection on the purpose of my work and the level of value and respect attributed to professional consultancy.
However, this experience has served as a strong motivation for me to demonstrate strategic thinking in our approaches and nurture growth alongside our clients.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Harshest thing you have said to someone?
“I can’t help you.” This was a response I hastily said to a colleague during a very busy day. However, on reflection, I recognised the importance of active listening as a crucial management skill.
It's essential to prioritise being fully present and attentive to the needs of my team, even when things are hectic.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What is the hardest part about your job?
In our people-centric industry, nurturing and retaining talent is the most challenging yet meaningful part of my job. The culture of a workplace is shaped by its people, and it is only with good people that the team can thrive and remain content.
To achieve this, being open to feedback and understanding different perspectives is crucial, as well as promptly taking action to address the issues that come to light.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Biggest misconception about PR?
“PR is media relations.” While media relations is undoubtedly an essential aspect of PR, it is just one piece of a larger puzzle. Our work encompasses a broad scope of activities and strategies aimed at managing and influencing public perception, reputation, and relationships.
Within the ever-changing landscape of communications and the constant emergence of new, innovative ways to reach our audiences, I believe our job is more diverse by the day.
We have to adapt quickly within this dynamic environment and strive to stay ahead of the curve.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: How do you measure your own personal success?
Sense of purpose. Sense of growth. Sense of happiness.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: One thing you would say to a newbie in the PR industry?
People need people. Despite tech advances, the need for human-to-human interaction remains essential to build genuine connections and effective PR strategies.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: One thing you hate most about the PR industry?
This is more applicable to the agency world, not just PR: I get very frustrated when people think our ideas come at no cost, especially during the pitch process.
This thinking undermines the creative process and the expertise we bring to the table. It’s crucial to communicate the importance of recognising and appreciating the intellectual capital behind the ideas we present.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: How has PR evolved over the last five years?
The FULL integration of digital and socials in everything that we do in PR has been the most obvious evolution over the last five years. We are no longer confined by traditional channels.
In today’s landscape, a single misstep on social media has the potential to escalate into crisis. PR professionals need to adapt and ensure our strategies encompass a comprehensive approach that safeguards brand reputation and, at the same time, engages our target audiences.
This is what I truly adore about PR – its dynamic, fast-paced nature that requires quick thinking and yet, at its core, remains a realm of boundless creativity.
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