She knows the ins and outs of this place like no other, she’s a one-woman team and is all about getting up close and personal. Meet Amanda, our Global PR Director.
How did you get into Public Relations?
I spent my entire high school years reading and studying criminal psychology. I wanted to understand the mind of a serial killer and what motivators or childhood experiences may have driven them to act on these urges. Anyway, I visited a few universities and met with professors to explore getting a degree and start my profession; but the reality was, demand was higher than actual supply – thanks to Criminal Minds, CSI and every other crime show that made it mainstream.
I came to terms with this and asked a friend what he thought I was good at. Public Relations came up. Why? My love of writing and my ability to talk someone’s ear off. So, I looked into a communications degree and realised it definitely suited my personality. I was accepted into a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communications and majored in Public Relations in Australia.
What do people think you do?
My mum has no idea. She thinks it has something to do with newspapers because I can’t articulate it in Vietnamese – I swear I can speak Viet, but to explain PR is just a mouthful. The majority think I just talk a lot, spin lies for a living or make ‘magic’ happen aka when celebrities wear our essentials on the streets of New York. None of this is the reality, besides the talking part.
So, what do you actually do here?
It’s my job to know everything about the business and introduce our brand, our online business model, and talk about our affordable modern essentials to media in Hong Kong, across Asia Pacific, Japan and the US. It’s a fine balance between managing Luke, our CEO & Founder’s calendar, for media, speaking opportunities, and supporting marketing initiatives, as well as campaigns tied to our modern essentials.
What’s the most misunderstood thing about your job?
The prep. There is a lot of research, preparation, writing and facilitation that goes behind setting up an interview or securing a solid piece of coverage. You can call me a professional stalker. I need to know as much as possible about a journalist or publication before reaching out to them so I don’t make an a** of myself. In a day, I can switch my mind-set from talking about venture capital, fashion trends, supply chain, manufacturing, technology, entrepreneurship to payment systems. I’m not sure people really understand the level of constant up-skilling that it requires. I love learning it all though!
What’s the most difficult thing about your job?
That I’m a one-person team. I’m used to working at agencies with a small team to support clients but working at a startup, you just need to adapt and be as efficient as possible to meet deadlines and business needs.
What have you learnt about people through your work?
That it’s better to meet people in person. We live in a world where messaging apps and email take up most of our daily communications – which I’m not a big fan of. It’s good to step away from your laptop or mobile and arrange to meet someone for lunch, coffee or happy hour drinks to discuss business-related topics but also get to know them as a person outside of work.
What’s the key to keeping your cool under pressure?
Working in PR is a double-edged sword, you’re always working under pressure, but when the results are out, it’s so worth it. The excitement of seeing a publication out hasn’t changed for me in the last 8 years. If anything, I get more excited.
How do you define quality?
To me, quality is about the actual experience – how it makes me feel, is it genuine? What am I learning?
What do your friends know you for?
Food and drink recommendations, R&B music and dance moves. Oh, and my friends think Mort from Madagascar is my spirit animal – I guess it’s a combination of his tendency to be excitable, a little crazy, annoying and overall happy-go-lucky with life.
‘Remember, it’s PR, not ER. You can complete your most urgent tasks for the day and then go home.’
Do have any tips for trying to find work/life balance? Have you found it yet?
It took me a few years to get a hang of work / life balance. And I mean, 6 years of overtime, stress and comfort eating. What works for me may not work for everyone but I try my best to:
- Prioritise tasks at the beginning of every week.
- Don’t multi-task, it’s counter-productive. Complete one task at a time to make sure you give it the appropriate amount of time and dedication before you move onto the next.
- No last minute meetings in your calendar after 4:30pm unless it’s urgent.
- Be efficient and pay attention to detail, staying late doesn’t mean you’re working hard.
In Hong Kong the perception is that if you stay back late, you’re a better employee. In my opinion, a person should be asked why they’re staying back late from their manager. Their manager can help them improve on work efficiency, priorities or see how they can help prevent the late nights. It happens too often in PR that people lose their lives due to overworking themselves. Remember, it’s PR, not ER. You can complete your most urgent tasks for the day and then go home, make dinner, watch Netflix or head to the gym.