By Lailatul Fitriyah Matsaini
PUTRAJAYA, 8 September 2018: A group of 13 students from the Institute of Public Relations Malaysia Student Association (IPRMSA) – IIUM Chapter yesterday (7 September) embarked on a learning journey outside the classroom as they paid a visit to the Institute of Public Relations Malaysia (IPRM)’s office at the Ministry of Communication and Multimedia (Kementerian Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia or KKMM in short) in Putrajaya.
The educational trip was held to not only educate the students on the role and importance of IPRM as a national public relations body to the industry, but also to expose them to a vast spectrum of communication and public relations practices, particularly in the public sector.
Upon arrival at KKMM, the students were welcomed by Dr. Amerjit Singh and Mrs. Doris Lim, the senior member and council member of the Institute. The students were then brought to the IPRM’s office for a short and yet informative briefing by them.
Dr. Amerjit drew full attention from the floor from the very start when he spoke on the concept of communication and the job scope of government public relations (PR) in a lively and interesting manner. The briefing then moved to the exposition on the current political and socio-economic scenario, dealing with increasing public expectations, managing issues and perception, as well as coping with PR current trends and challenges.
In the two-hour session with the students, Dr. Amerjit Singh, who is now the Director of Media Cyber Division at the Information Department, and once the public relations officer at the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, also shared his experience in addressing the controversial ‘Visit Malaysia Year 2020’ logo, which had been greatly criticised by many “amateurish”, and had deeply affected the Ministry’s image.
The session was truly an eye-opening experience for the students as they gained an in-depth knowledge of crisis communication. His presentation also touched on the qualities expected of PR practitioners to face the dynamic and challenging public expectations of the role of the government and its institutions.
The next session of the trip was a glimpse of IPRM’s history and development of public relations in Malaysia by Mrs. Doris Lim, who also owned Matrix Communication, a public relations firm.
She then steered the entire discourse to PR in the corporate sector where she touched on the topics of nation building to market orientation, gender inequality in PR industry, ethical practices, as well as addressing issues of corporate governance, the role of PR in dominant coalition, and the dialogical approaches in managing trust deficit, information gap and transparency issues.
On key drivers of change, Doris highlighted a few takeaways such as the transformation of technology to digital and social media, the rise of consumer engagement, the significance of participative culture, as well as the explosion and fragmentation of media channels, which posed greater challenges to public relations practitioners today.
With the rise in cost of living and alarming number of unemployment in Malaysia, some students also took the opportunity to pepper the briefing session with questions of their own. Mrs. Doris Lim advised them to learn skills in investor relations and financial literacy in order to secure a better future. She also told the students on the need for current graduates to have the knowledge in other subjects aside from communication alone, such as political science, business administration, economics, and many others.
One of the participating students, Shafiq Izni, a second year student, shared, “I joined this industry visit with zero knowledge of PR in government sector. Now, it has been an eye-opener for me. We learned a lot about the role of IPRM in the PR industry. Apart from that, we also learned the many practice areas that we can explore in PR. Information such as these will definitely come in handy when we enter the working life in the future.”
As for Shamiera Musa, the President of IPRMSA-IIUM Chapter, she had wished the students including herself, to have a better understanding about PR from the practitioners. She said: “Getting the opportunity to discuss issues on PR in various aspects directly with the professionals doesn’t come often. I am glad that the students are exposed to this kind of activity. I hope the educational visit helps to spur their motivation to study extra hard and be a virtuous PR student.”
All in all, it was a good study trip for the students who returned to campus with their newly-gained knowledge and exposure. The visit was accompanied by their lecturer, Mr. Aznan Mat Piah, who is also IPRM’s council member and the Institute’s honorary secretary. ***