FIVE MINUTES WITH HEATHER SEET AND VICTORIA BROWN
This year the ICCO launched the Next Generation PR World Cup, a global competition to showcase emerging talent and offer PR professionals the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and creativity. Mutant Communications’ Heather Seet and Victoria Brown won gold in the inaugural competition, representing PRCA Asia Pacific as Team Singapore. The winning duo sat down with Communicate magazine to talk about the experience and reflect on their PR journeys so far.
What did the Next Generation PR World Cup involve?
HS: This is the first year that the Next-Gen PR World Cup has taken place and it started with regional qualifiers, local in some countries. Victoria and I took part at the regional level and when we came out top of that branch, we went up to the global level. We put in our best and did what we could with the belief that we had a super solid idea. At regional level we were given a brief and 48 hours to turn it around. We submitted a deck of ten slides and then the top five were shortlisted for a presentation. At the global level it was five days with a ten-page presentation and a recorded pitch. That was challenging because it was a five-minute pitch for a ten-page presentation, so we really had to cut down our script.
What were some of the biggest challenges of the competition?
VB: I think us being in different countries was a challenge. We did all the brainstorming and meetings virtually, so we have never even met in person before! The pandemic prevented us from travelling to see each other, as we would usually travel between the Singapore and Malaysia offices a couple of times a year. Over the past two years it’s been pretty much virtual the whole time. We are so used to seeing each other on Zoom, and we have so many internal Mutant meetings that it has become the norm. But having the brainstorming process 100% online was quite different.
How did you manage to work creatively across countries?
VB: We had very creative Google Jamboard sessions. At regional level we had all these virtual tools that look a lot like post-it notes. We could move things around and edit ideas because we really wanted to make sure we were checking everything off our brief. We were scribbling ideas and breaking down our campaign into a few different phases. We found this to be the best way for us to really get creative and type out everything we were thinking about, despite being in different countries.
How did you both come to work in PR and what area of communications are you most passionate about?
HS: I started at Mutant last year so I was part of the pandemic graduating batch. It was a really different experience being onboarded completely online. As somebody so new to the industry, the Next-Gen PR World Cup was a humbling win. I studied comms because I’ve always been interested in the idea of messaging and perception and how brands communicate and influence people’s mindsets and decisions. I would say I’m most passionate about brand storytelling and using the different platforms to really capture what a brand stands for and how it connects to audiences.
VB: I actually started my career in journalism. I was a journalist at The Star Newspaper, which is Malaysia’s leading English daily, for five years before I decided I’d learnt all I could in journalism. I wanted to make my foray into PR, so I joined OTT platform, iflix, where I was in-house PR for a year. Mutant is my first agency and I’ve been here for two years now. I was drawn to PR because it’s not just about managing press conferences or crises. We have the power to educate, influence and inspire. My favourite part of PR is the pitching process and coming up with creative ideas and thinking outside the box to solve real business problems.
What PR project have you worked on that you are most proud of? Either as part of the PR World Cup or in your wider work?
VB: My favourite project was one that took place during the pandemic last year. One of my clients is Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, which is one of the biggest shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur. Christmas is usually a really big deal for them, but because of the pandemic they couldn’t have an actual launch. So we did a series of different engagements with PR materials. We did Christmas media drops and invited key editors and catalogues for our Christmas vacation with a curated itinerary from different tenants within the mall. We pitched really cool stories, one of which reflected on Pavilion KL’s past Christmas décor. It was a very well-rounded PR campaign, and the team was super happy with the coverage we got, it was a big increase from the previous year which is saying a lot considering we didn’t have an actual event.
HS: Victoria and I both work on the Disney Media Networks Southeast Asia account, and National Geographic Asia ran their inaugural Planet Possible day on the same weekend we had the Global World Cup. So, coordinating a regional campaign while also working on our project was truly something I am proud of! Another project I am proud of is Girl, Talk, a youth collective founded by myself and three friends during my final year of studies, which aimed to empower female undergrads to respond to sexual harassment. It was a small group, but we launched a panel event and had the opportunity to talk to different people. What struck me was the chance to speak not just to press, but to hear other people’s stories, to spread the word and bring so much attention to the topic. Even now people still reach out to me and my friends about this project and I think that just shows that a campaign can really be something that impacts people’s lives.
What is next for you both in terms of your PR journey?
VB: I look forward to growing more within Mutant Communications and coming up with more creative and effective campaigns for our clients. I am also looking forward to growing the Malaysia team because Mutant Communications HQ is in Singapore and the Malaysia team is still fairly new. I am excited to help train our new hires and get new clients on board. It’s an exciting albeit very busy time for us in Malaysia.
HS: We’re always looking to learn and sharpen our skills as professionals. I am particularly interested in delving more deeply into social media and fine tuning our expertise in that area. We have realised that it is such an important role for comms personnel because they can understand and really deliver strategic insight. It’s not just about pushing out consistent content, but it is about enriching a brand and telling stories about itself and its people.