[By Mohamed Shain]
Social media has had an unprecedented effect on our way of life. The increase in popularity of social media has created a whole new way of marketing and advertising. We are seeing companies move away from traditional advertisements by setting up shop with social media influencers. We were given better insight at the Media Fuse forum that was held on 6th November at Lecture Theatre 12, Taylor’s University.
Big names attended as speakers, treating us to appearances by managing director of Geometry Global Vivian Tan Higgs, Youtuber Jenn Chia, and Style Content Creator Alvynna, with TV host Brandon Ho moderating the entire session.
The whole event was a very casual and welcoming affair despite some rather dire warnings from Higgs about studying Mass Communication with the intent of breaking into the PR game. Furthermore, the forum was very light-hearted and eye-opening. A big part of this can be attributed to Brandon Ho’s excellent work as both a mediator and host. He easily defused any awkwardness that arose, asking questions that were insightful and giving each of the speakers a chance to show their respective knowledge on the subject being discussed.
It must be noted that the event was spearheaded by Higgs, as her experiences seemed to be something the two younger media personalities, Chia and Alvynna, were eager to learn from. She told stories of dealing with difficult clients and influencers, giving advice on how to proceed when trying to find a place in the industry. “Media Fuse was a great opportunity to learn about the world of Public Relations, the speakers were great and had lot of advice to give, especially Vivian, who was the life of the event,” said Abigail Lim, a participant of the event.
Higgs further explained how she screened applicants for jobs at her company and revealed that most PR firms dismiss Mass Communication majors at first glance, on the account of them not wanting that kind of person in the company due to them often approaching the job as a way to meet people and have fun, instead of treating it seriously.
Instead, she urged us to take up subjects such as psychology to gain the interest of PR firms, a statement made somewhat ironic, considering half the people attending the forum were Mass Communication students.
Chia proved to be as delightful in real life as she is in her videos, as she spoke fluently and had very down-to-earth mannerisms. She shared her struggles of being an older person trying to compete in the teenage-dominated world of social media, and her efforts to diversify her work by venturing into different fields such as music and television. She also tried to disillusion us from thinking that the life of a social media personality was easy, by enlightening the struggles that such people deal with in their daily lives.
Lastly, Alyvnna provided some choice insights into the industry. She shared some of her experiences in dealing with different clients and her personal battles with her conscience over being brand ambassador of products she found distasteful, but was forced into representing as she needed to make money to pay for rent. She explained further on her inability to go against her agents due to her being a relatively small influencer and how the business can be very cutthroat at times. “The part of the event that stood out to me is where the social media influencers have expressed their issues when working with companies and PR people, while our PR speaker explained her side of the issue,” expressed by the leader of Marketing Department and the emcee of the event, Carmen Hoo Jia Wen.
Overall, the whole event was a very informative and well-paced discussion that without a doubt caused many students to rethink their views on PR and social media. “It inspired me as they asked us to be who we are and taught us the importance of being passionate about our jobs,” said Shu Jin Mok, a participant of the event. The event ended with a short Q&A session and a group photo. The event was organized by BMC semester four students from the School of Hospitality, Tourism & Events and the School of Communication.