Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Gregory Tan a Digital Analyst at Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence. In the interview, Gregory talks about his career path, current role, internships and provides advice for PR students.
Q1. First thing’s first, tell us a little about yourself. What type of path led you to your current position at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide?
To be honest, I started out by falling into Public Relations. My first internship during my first year of University was at a small PR and events agency, and – as any PR intern would know – I spent much of my time coordinating press clippings and calculating the value of the PR coverage for clients. In my 2nd year of Uni, I interned at the Reputation Group, which had an affiliated internship program with the University of Melbourne, which I attended, so I continued with my exposure and experience with PR.
In my 3rd and final year I completed a 3rd internship with Ogilvy Public Relations in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where I’m originally from – and I can quite safely say that that’s where I fell in love with PR and agency life, even if I didn’t realise it then. To be honest, it took some time to become clear and firm about the path I wanted my career to take, and I started work at an online start-up in Melbourne. It was an extraordinary opportunity with an extraordinary team, but I slowly came to the realisation that I wanted my career to move in another direction, and at that juncture there was a position in Sydney that was open – and I applied for it. The rest just fell into place.
Q2. I’ve noticed on your LinkedIn profile that besides working at Ogilvy, you’re also co-founder and social media strategist at Meld Magazine? Is that an organisation you’ve built up on the side?
I suppose you could say that! I worked with Karen Poh (the current editor of Meld Magazine) in a cafe during my student years. She was a journalist at the time, and she approached me with the idea for Meld Magazine – an online magazine dedicated to supporting media students and integrating international students in Melbourne with the local culture. I said yes to partnering with her, and it all went on from there – it’s a fantastic stepping stone for all sorts of media students. It aims to provide experience for students in fields ranging from journalism, to photography, to marketing.
Q3. Give us a brief overview of your role as Digital Analyst
The Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence practice is Ogilvy’s social media arm. As a digital analyst, I compile and coordinate listening reports, analyse competitor and client campaign data to make informed and insightful recommendations that contribute to our digital strategy.
Q4. In your opinion, how important is an internship for a PR / Communication student as part of their career?
Incredibly so – I can’t stress this enough. I understand the allure of spending holidays kicking back after a long, stressful semester, but I’m a firm believer in internships. I think that as students, it’s often difficult to know what and how you want your future career to be positioned, and that’s where internships come in – they’re partly a form of self-discovery, of knowing whether you’ll actually like what you’re studying, and which parts of it you want to concentrate on, to build your career towards.
It’s also a great way to build your professional networks – I, for one, am quite sure that a large part of the reason I was hired at Ogilvy 360 DI was my experience with OPR in Malaysia, and with The Reputation Group (now OPR Melbourne). Besides being a great way to get a foot in the door (in an industry that’s notoriously difficult to enter), its great experience for your resume. It shows initiative and graduate experience (which is now critical in getting employed after leaving university).
Q6: How did you go about networking? Were social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter critical to your relationship building?
I’d say they’re definitely fantastic tools, and they definitely help. I’ve used them to find out about many, many positions with many large organisations – so many agencies these days hire solely through social media platforms, based on the belief that if you’re not on them, you don’t deserve the position! These days, it’s more important than ever to have a solid social media presence as well. It’s not uncommon for employers to run a thorough search about you during the interview process, so make sure that all the necessary privacy settings are in place, and that you’ve also contributed meaningfully towards the industry.
Whether it’s via Twitter or a blog, proof that you’re legitimately passionate about the industry will take you far. PR students are expected to understand the space, because we’re meant to be “digital citizens” – but responsible maintenance of your footprint is critical. Being aware of how you come across to others – especially when asking for advice or information – is quite important. Be friendly, but professional.
Q7. And lastly, what’s the most important advice you can offer to a PR student looking to graduate in the near future?
Do as many internships as you can. Build your professional networks. Don’t be shy (it’s never worth it). Read about industry news. Know the key players. Have initiative. And lastly, love what you do! It makes it all worth it in the end.