Make it work
By FREDA LIU
We all have gifts and sometimes yes, we have a specific calling in our lives. When I started my career, I didn’t know if it was my passion. All I knew at that age was that I enjoyed writing, communicating and interacting with people.
My other career choice was advertising but it meant I had to do one or the other. Should I go into copywriting or client servicing?
In public relations (PR), I could do everything. That meant accepting a brief, coming up with a proposal, doing the writing, executing the plan and following up with the plans.
Before I completed my final semester at university, I did not even know there was a career option in PR. It was by pure chance when I was doing an elective course in PR that piqued my interest and got me hooked.
When I started, the industry was fairly new, while advertising was more established. People in the advertising industry definitely earned more.
If money was my main drive, I would not have gone into my chosen path. So at 23, I guess PR became my “passion”.
I was also privileged to do other things like reading news on radio and TV, which I developed alongside my full-time job. It was mostly to earn extra pocket money, but I knew I was learning something new. Who knew then where all these experiences would take me?
The reality: Hardwork and sacrifice
In the early days of PR, the role was viewed as somewhat glamorous. The fact that I was on radio and TV also seems “glamorous” to the outside world.
Now, here is the reality of the work I did in PR. The work really starts at 5pm when we are finished with meetings and events. We reply emails, send media invitations, write reports and news releases and prepare media kits. Every working day ended at 8pm at best.
There have been days when I had to stay overnight when the work called for it. However, most people would only see us at fancy hotels greeting media and so the job seemed glamorous.
For my work in TV, I was there three hours before going on air vetting through scripts, doing voiceovers and putting on makeup just to be on air for 30 minutes. Sometimes the news was at 8pm or 11pm during weekends. There was not much social life.
Living your call of duty passionately
What’s the point? Living your passion and a call of duty can be the same thing. Living your passion does not mean there’s no hard work behind the scenes. Living the passion means reaping what you sow.
I have been working at my station for seven years now, ever since it started.
In the early days, it was a small team and we did everything: from scheduling, preparing questions, conducting interviews (the glamorous part!) to editing.
This is not knowing if people will like what we do or if people even know about us. However, we plough on. Why?
I believe that what I do can change and help the business community. That is my call of duty and my passion. My years in radio and TV have all helped to sharpen my skills to do what I am able to now.
Live your passion
You may have your passions but you must find outlets to live them. In your pursuit of your passions, don’t neglect your other duties and responsibilities like paying the bills and spending time with family.
In life, you don’t always get what you want or think you want.
Over time, I have realised that I enjoy looking for stories be it in PR or radio. I like communicating these stories. I know there is much work to be done, even though sometimes the work can be repetitive.
Be prepared to bite the bullet. Yes, you reap what you sow. Throw in the time factor because corn doesn’t grow overnight.
Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers talked about practising a specific task for 10,000 hours to hone your skills.
Are you willing to make the same sacrifices as The Beatles or Bill Gates prior to their success?
Yes, your call of duty can help you in your calling too. It does not have to be for or against. It can be done simultaneously.
Moreover, your calling can change. Mine has definitely evolved. The target audience and medium has changed and will continue to change. However, the underlying core of what I do in communicating hasn’t.
The world changes, the tools change, people change. Be prepared for these changes in the pursuit of your calling and your call of duty.
Freda Liu is a faculty of Leaderonomics focusing on public relations and broadcasting. She is also a presenter/producer of Enterprise on BFM89.9. Follow her on Twitter @voiceguru or her blog at www.fredaliu.com/blog. To engage Freda for organisational work in your organisation, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Career Advice articles, click here.
Published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 2 May 2015