Telum Talks To…Michelle Chan, Founder, Carat Comms Management
Telum caught up with Michelle Chan, Founder and Director of Event Planning and Public Relations at Carat Comms Management, an integrated event experience and marketing company headquartered in Malaysia. She shares how her involvement in events led her to PR and explained why face to face meetings are important, even in today’s world of technology.
You’ve been the Director of Event Planning and Public Relations for Carat Comms Management for 15 years now. Can you tell us about the work that Carat Comms does?
Carat Comms Management is an integrated marketing company that provides services in event, PR, and content planning across different industries. We create PR campaigns through online and offline activities to engage with customers such as media interviews, media planning, and social media advertisement media buy. We also offer event production in different styles and themes to match with clients’ brand image and so promote brands and grow their business effectively. We have worked with businesses from a wide range of industries including lifestyle, property, beauty, fashion, accessories, F&B, skincare, retail, e-commerce and luxury brands. Apart from the local market here in Malaysia, we also receive regular enquiries from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the Middle East, to mention a few.
So tell us what drew you to this industry?
At heart, I love the planning work that goes into projects. I enjoy the feeling of fulfilment and a sense of achievement after completion of a project or event. It also helps that I like making new friends and meeting new people.
In the events business, I get to meet people from all over the world and with all sorts of backgrounds, skills, and industry experiences. This resulted in the broadening of my horizons and my exposure to the world. When I started as an event organiser, I never expected to venture into public relations and media, let alone social media marketing. The nature of events management, however, is such that you realise quickly that you have to learn about event publicity, and engage with a wide range of media including organising media interviews, press conferences, media launches and the like. As time passed, my experience grew, and I picked up the skills and knowledge I needed to really master this area of expertise.
Are there any specific marketing or PR strategies that you have employed over the years that you find to be most effective when spreading awareness about events?
The marketing strategies that we use largely revolve around building publicity through multiple channels. It really depends on the nature of the business or events and their target audiences, but generally speaking we will select the most suitable media channel to reach out. In the past, we focused more on mainstream media, and nowadays social media and online marketing also plays an important role in the marketing of events.
How has COVID-19 impacted your work, and can you share strategies you’ve had to use to overcome the challenges?
The pandemic has seriously affected our physical events. As you can imagine, all our in-person event planning has been stopped and is pending since the beginning of 2020. I have tried to pivot to virtual events but found that it lacks the impact and grandeur of physical ones. Many of our clients, however, have shifted to online and digital PR, and as a result we moved on to provide strategic PR planning and campaign solutions for them.
Are there any event planning trends – like virtual events, for example – that you think will continue to impact the event planning process and industry after the pandemic is under control?
Some business events will be partly or totally changed to online events. People have become used to these changes, and it does improve the event’s reach – virtual events are easier to get to, after all. It will depend, however, on the nature of the event! Not all events are effective online or virtually. This is especially true for entertainment and experiential events; the online impact is not as great as the physical event where people get to experience the impact of the ambience of audio, visual and the stage show. On top of that, it is human nature for people to connect face to face and people are getting bored meeting online for the long term during the pandemic period. As a result I believe some events will return to the physical after the pandemic is under control.
Any advice you’d give to young and aspiring event planners or marketeers?
Be creative, resilient, and work very hard to collect hands-on experience. Be still and calm in any circumstance and always have a backup plan for any event you are planning.
Be tech savvy: keep up to date with the latest technology in marketing, online media platform and content creation. Marketing trends change daily, if we stop learning we will be left behind and get replaced by younger generations who are tech native.