With more than 12 years of PR and marketing experience, Wesley Gunter shares some insights with Marketing on how the industry has evolved following the birth of social media and rapidly changing consumer trends.
A big believer in the proverbial humble pie, Gunter dispenses advice on the importance of a hungry attitude to continuously learn in an ever-evolving industry.
Along with his partner Daniel Yap, Gunter set up Right Hook Communications to add ‘punch’ to the PR scene. He spoke to Marketing about the trials and tribulations of restarting a PR career on his own terms.
(Read our other interviews from On the Record here)
Why did you decide to start up your own PR firm?
Well it’s quite a long story actually but in a nutshell I was screwed over at my last job by someone I won’t mention despite giving outstanding results and hitting all my targets.
I then applied for an international agency after this and got rejected for whatever reason which brought me to one of the lowest points in my life. I was taking martial arts at that time (and still do) and remembered what it was like to be in a sparring match.
If you stay down you just get hit even more. I told myself you can either wallow in self-pity or pick yourself up and give another fight. That was when I started Right Hook.
Biggest challenge in running your own PR agency?
I would say the biggest challenge is managing people whether it’s your staff or clients. At the end of the day you need to realise that you can’t please everybody all the time despite giving your all.
How did you get your first team together? (share pics)
Well when we first started it was just Daniel and me. After a couple of months when we managed to pull in a few clients we got two interns. One of them decided to carry on staying with me for 2 years and the rest is history.
Describe your management style?
I hate micromanaging and politics so I’m pretty open with the team if I’m not happy with something. I always tell my staff to make mistakes otherwise they won’t learn but don’t make it twiceJ
Proudest moment in your career?
Oh there are so many. I think one of them would be when a client told me that I had reignited his faith in PR after working with so many agencies. That almost brought a tear to my eye.
What was your first PR gig? Why PR as a career? (share pics)
I started out at a local PR agency called Vibes Communications right after I finished my mass communications polytechnic diploma. To be honest I needed a job pretty badly as funds were running low and I’ve been stuck here sinceJ
What would you consider your one big break?
I think it was when Right Hook won the Suntec International Convention Centre account which got a lot of attention from other agencies despite us being relatively new in the market.
Who was the mentor who most influenced you and why? (share pics)
Monica Alsagoff. I worked under her when I was at Bang Public Relations and later joined her when she set up her own agency called Communications DNA.
Monica was one of those bosses that worked you hard but rewarded you as well. She always had a personal connection with all her staff and you could always go to her if you had a problem whether it was work related or personal.
Your biggest blunder in your career? How did you resolve it?
Oh too many. But more recently I used the wrong name in a new business presentation. I had used the former CEO’s name in one of my slides and the new CEO wasn’t happy with it. I skipped through the rest of slides pretty quickly after that and kept apologizing.
Harshest thing said to you in your career?
Too many..Lol..‘What the hell are you doing? What am I paying you for?’ ‘You’re not very bright huh?’ ‘WESLEY WAKE UP..STOP BEING SO F****ING BLUR’. ‘You’re lucky you haven’t been fired yet’ etc etc
Harshest thing you have said to someone?
‘When are you going to wake up? Learn some f***ing responsibility’
What is the hardest part about your job?
Managing expectations for everyone from clients to staff.
Biggest misconception about PR?
PR people are supposed to be ‘nice’ people because we are in PR??!
How do you measure your own personal success?
When I get more referrals for business I know I must be doing something right.
One thing you would say to a newbie in the PR industry?
Throw all that you have learnt about PR in your classes out the window and remember there’s only one dish you will be eating from now on – humble pie.
One thing you hate most about the PR industry?
How has PR evolved over the last five years?
Being a ‘dinosaur’ I started my career in PR before social media was born and there’s been a lot of changes ever since. I think in the last five years PR has begun to embrace digital and content marketing to give better results to clients.
The online media space has also boomed drastically over the last five years especially with print media finding it a challenge keeping up. Very soon the next space to look out for will be the mobile sector so PR practitioners will have to evolve their strategies in order to keep up with their times.