PR used to be fun.
I had the good fortune to build a network of agencies in Asia at a time when opportunities and luck went a lot further than jargon and diplomas.
For those who remember the Asia of the '80s and '90s, it was an evocative lively roller-coaster ride, rich with incident, eureka moments and flashes of inspiration.
It was a time thankfully without Facebook and focus groups, but with a lot of successful hunches and hands well played.
It was a time when we were all capable of coming out with great balls of fiery ideas.
A time to be truly creative—and dare to fail in order to succeed.
Like the time we created a campaign to celebrate the Singapore Girl’s 21st birthday. After months of negotiations, Madame Tussaud’s waxworks museum in London agreed to include a wax model of Singapore’s most famous icon, the first commercial figure ever to take its place alongside other global celebrities. The wax work, modelled on leading stewardess Lim Suet Kwee, was unveiled and caught the attention of major news media all over the world.
Today, it’s a world of communication conglomerates run by grey accountants. The opportunity for wit, fun and wisdom have been brushed away.
We no longer dare to dream. No longer dare to take a leap of faith.
It’s no longer thinking ‘out of the box’, but ‘within the box’.
For better or worse (and maybe worse) PR has become statistics, graphs and tables.
Once, you were never satisfied with the ordinary. You defied the naysayers, the ones who said ‘don’t go there' or ‘now’s the wrong time’.
Let’s hope the fun, and creativity will return to an industry that’s going to be a powerhouse in this century.
Michael de Kretser has been in PR in Asia for more than 30 years. He is currently the chairman of the GO Group and CEO of GO Communications (Malaysia). His new book, GO For It – A Roller Coaster Public Relations Adventure, is available at all MPH bookshops. All royalties from the book have been pledged to the National Kidney Foundation Malaysia.