Resilience and Creativity: What My Time at Klareco Has Taught Me
by Tom Grace
Each year Klareco Communications hosts international university students for placements that could range from a short summer internship to a six-month stint, or even a full placement year. These placements are hugely valuable both for those we host and for our teams and offices across APAC.
Our most recent placement student has been Tom Grace, an Economics and Politics undergraduate from the University of Bath in the United Kingdom. As Tom’s time with us nears an end, and he prepares to return to his home country, he reflects on his six-month placement and what he has learnt along the way:
If someone had told me when I started at Klareco in January 2020 that I would spend most of my time at the company working from my home, I would have given them a befuddled look. I had been told that the communications industry was about making meaningful connections with clients and journalists alike! This challenge – one faced by international placement students around the world – has been one of many that I have faced during my internship here at Klareco; however, far from spoiling my time, it has only helped to make it a positive experience.
Resilience is Key
Overcoming the hurdle of working from home has taught me a valuable lesson about the PR industry more generally, and that is that resilience is important. For example, when pitching a story to the media, for all the successes there are always going to be setbacks with rejected emails and polite declines from journalists and broadcasters. I remember vividly getting my first rejection and Yin Cheung, my chief confidant at Klareco, laughed and said, “Welcome to the real world”. This helped put me at ease with my surroundings, and my job, and I am eternally grateful for that. The importance of building a mental ‘toughness’, and to learn from failure by improving pitching tactics, has been a crucial lesson for me to take away from my time here.
Adaptability is another learning from my time here, particularly in the work that I produce for clients. A preconceived notion I had was that I would have clear marketing plans in place. For the large part, this was true. But Covid-19 changed a lot of those plans and we had to be agile and flexible to help clients create new plans that would add value to their businesses, despite the challenges the pandemic created.
Creativity Can Be Cultivated
The clichés of the PR industry were drilled into me when I told family and friends what I was going to do for my internship; however, the annoying clichés of ‘spin doctors’ or ‘timekeepers’ have not rung true at all. Entering the PR industry at this time has shown me how creative the team at Klareco, and in the industry more broadly, are. In my opinion, creativity is not binary and it can most definitely be taught and improved upon. This view has been reinforced as I have entered the industry and seen my colleagues be creative in the way they have overcome issues and provide clients with value even in the toughest of times. I particularly loved the brainstorm sessions that we had where no suggestion was deemed as “off the table” which made me realise what a welcoming company Klareco was as the team offered some pretty left-field ideas.
A key learning from the PR industry has also been that the detail really matters! The nuance of stories is something that is very acute and is something that I did not appreciate before. The news agenda, I have learnt, is an ever-evolving ecosystem and to stay on top of the trends in the media has been something that I have grappled with. That being said, it is something that I have thoroughly enjoyed, and I will continue to appreciate the subtitles in headlines for a long time to come.
APAC Leading the Way
Initially, I believed that Asia was far more homogenous in values and media landscape than it has been proven to be. The regional discrepancies in style and communication tactics are far more varied than I initially thought. It is crucial to have bespoke and tailored stories and communications to be effective. Different Asian markets may appear to be similar enough to get away with an ‘Asian strategy’ but, as economies continue to develop, the need for bespoke solutions will become more apparent.
I have also seen for myself how progressive businesses in Asia are. Companies in the region are truly cutting-edge, and they need to shout louder about the innovation and market-changing products they are developing. There is little doubt that Asia has a lot to offer the EMEA or US market and there is a lot those markets can learn from their Asian counterparts. The challenge falls to communications professionals here in Asia to continue to portray these innovative companies to the rest of the world and showcase how their efforts can inform those of their peers for the greater good.
As I return to the UK to complete my studies at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom, I will treasure the memories and friendships made during my time at Klareco Communications. I expect, like my time at Klareco, I will be completing the majority of my studies from the comfort of my own home. However, my experience in Singapore has prepared me for this and armed me with the resilience and the skills needed to complete my studies to the highest level. I would like to take the time to thank all my colleagues at Klareco Communications for their constant support and insightful advice, as well as their offerings of McDonald’s breakfasts, along the way.