Who"s davidlian?

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davidlian is an ultra-geeky chinese dude that works for a technology PR agency. He loves fiddling with techno-toys, plays Warhammer 40K, and shoots pictures wherever he goes. Here, he rants about PR, Technology and anything else. Don't expect balance and un-biased, he ain't no journalist. Anything said on this blog are solely davidlian's personal views. Don't confuse them with company mantra, client's views or views of any organisation he may be part of.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

"Toothless" Journalism and UNcredible bloggers

This article over at thecicak.com nails the bug right in its face and unearths the age old discussion of Malaysian press freedom. Whilst, and I'm sure you've read about this before, this counter punches alternative media.

So what's a honest-to-goodness Malaysian citizen to read nowadays to just get an honest-to-goodness perspective of what's happening in the country? If we have journalists who can only paint rosy pictures and bloggers who spread lies, there doesn't seem like much else to read.

Of course, that depends on which camp you're on.

One side would have you believe that it's new media that's uncredible and therefore should be dismissed without a second thought. These "bloggers" or "citizen journalists" don't do their research before shooting off their views, and should be summarily ignored.

In the other camp, the mainstream media is pictured as suppressed. The only way to let the truth out is to do it online.

I'm not for either camp, as there's truth to both and bad examples of both camps. You've got great journalists and great bloggers. At the same time, I've come across some pretty poor examples of both.

But what I'm really wondering is... does your average Malaysian really care? I studied that the Media was the fourth institution of society, meant to be a watchdog. So, whilst we're watching out, who're we watching out for? Do they even care?


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Take that! MidValley / I want a bike!

So I survived my first day of parking at MidValley (post-rate-increase) with flying colours. And here's the evidence:

Exhibit #A: A parking ticket that shows I entered and exited just on the dot.

Take that, MidValley Management! No, I'm not sore that parking rates have gone up. I'm just sore about the fact that they made no option for an alternative, and the whole thing just reeks of moneymaking.

What I'm really interested in doing now is getting a bike to cycle to work. It seems like a solution that's going to work for me from multiple angles:

1. I save money.
With the RM 7 I'm paying everyday, I could afford a bicycle if I could save that money over four months. Not to mention petrol costs.

2. I lose weight
Yup. Cycling is one of the best fat-burning activities out there. Why waste money paying the gym to let you cycle on the spot for hours when you can be freewheeling through town with your little own set o' wheels?

3. I save the environment
Yeah, a cliche. But saving the environment is really something we all should be doing.
Plus, it adds a little "feel good" factor.

So, anyone with a second-hand mountain bike they'd like to unload for RM 600 or so?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Curses! Parking fees skyrocket at MidValley

Yup, it's finally official. MidValley parking rates have gone up today from just RM 1 for the whole day to a maximum of RM 7 daily, depending on how long you park. The new rate means you pay RM 1 for the first three hours and RM 1 for each subsequent hour, up to a maximum of RM 7.

Is this going to affect shoppers? I'm sure we'd see a more frequent cycle of people coming in and out of Midvalley. But it's not going to really affect shoppers as they will most likely still pay RM1. So MidValley won't lose shoppers by the bucket loads to 1 Utama or other competing shopping malls.

BUT, does this affect office workers? YES! Management somehow has decided that only 4 season parking lots will be given to each floor of each building at the boulevard. Yup, you've read it right. FOUR. Which each floor averaging 10 or so workers, the majority of whom drive, this is a major bummer for office workers like myself.

But the one thing that really miffs me about this is that management have not provided an alternative. It's pay or don't park. There isn't even an open air carpark that's 500 m away that I can park in and walk to work from. So, people like me who have not gotten the season pass will just have to cough up seven times the amount, to come to work everyday.

And what about the promoter girls, cashiers etc. who work at Midvalley? I rest my case.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The "Industry Standard", a discussion on fees

A couple of posts back, I mentioned that PRCAM (that's the PR Consultants Association of Malaysia) was planning to put on-line a "fee guide" for prospective clients.

My guess is that it'll be somewhere around the region of RM 300 per hour (blended rate).

So why this measure? I'm mixed over whether this will be good for bigger or smaller agencies. Someone I spoke to thinks for bigger agencies, this will stop smaller agencies from under-cutting them with lower than "industry standard" fees. I think smaller agencies are going to offer smaller than "industry standard" fees anyway and now, their case is gonna be stronger since an actual "industry standard" is put up.

On the other hand, bigger agencies can now breath a sigh of relief and calmly tell clients they aren't "overcharging" but "merely" charging "industry standard". So I guess they win too.

But who'll be the real winners? I'm guessing it's the mid-sized agency who delivers good work, has a reasonable reputation, but have never been able to command the fee a more established agency like Weber Shandwick or Hill and Knowlton would. They now have an "industry standard" to adhere to, which, like it or not, dear client, is higher than what we're charging you now.

So, put your hands together and welcome, "Industry Standard" fees.

Wanted: Hitman to kill two dogs

Have you heard about the one where a bounty is put on the heads of two dog?

"The two sniffer dogs instrumental in the seizure of fake optical discs worth RM10 million now carry a price on their heads.

It is learnt that an undisclosed bounty has been put up by syndicate bosses.

"Following the successful raid at a shopping complex in Johor Baru on Tuesday, sources informed the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs that syndicate members are looking for the dogs," the ministry’s enforcement assistant director, Firdaus Zakaria, said yesterday.

"The dogs are a genuine threat to the pirated disc syndicates, thus the instruction to eliminate them."
- New Straits Times, 23 March 2007

Read the full story here.

Apparently, the underworld has put a price on the heads of both canines. I wonder how much? SPCA Malaysia should get someone to look into this.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The lost generation: Malaysian PR industry short of good middle managers?

Yesterday, Malaysia's valiant resistance in the PR industry held its Annual General Meeting. The Public Relations Consultants' Association of Malaysia (PRCAM), who's long-drawn out battle with the Institute of Public Relations Malaysia (IPRM) over the issue of accreditation, for once saw a significant jump in it's membership - possibly due to the new membership rules (you don't have to be a PR consultant of 3 years to join now).

A relatively hum-drum affair with little excitement, there were two stark issues that did make me sit up and think a bit. I'll list them here:

1. PRCAM recognised that the PR industry in Malaysia lacked talent in the middle management.
2. PRCAM would put, on its website, a guide to PR fees.

I'd like to keep the issues separate, and deal with the first of these issues in this post. I'll keep the 'fee guide' saga for the next post.

Missing middle managers

So what's a middle manager?

At the AGM, one head of an international PR firm mentioned loosely that this includes consultants with circa 3 years experience (that's me!). Another colleague in the industry made a better distinction: your title would state: Account Manager, Senior Consultant or some equivalent. You'd have about 3 - 6 years of experience. Your day-to-day job would include heading client accounts and ensuring your clients are happy and work is well-delivered.

So, apparently, according to PRCAM, the PR industry lacks people who can fit into this Job Description and a plan needs to be drafted to ensure the next tier of people to reach this level needs to be well-trained. The immediate reason for this is so that the industry players stop cannibalising talent from one another.

Now, therein begs thequestion that the PR industry needs to ask itself: Why is there a lack of these people in the first place?

Education system does not produce suitable candidates
I have got to disagree. More mass communication courses are available than ever before and more and more students are taking them. Some mass comm graduates three years ago couldn't find jobs when they graduated.

Moreover, there were enough Account Executives and entry level staff to go around years ago. What's happened to them? Shouldn't they be the Account Managers now?

Education is only a problem in Tier one. If we were lacking in quality candidates to be entry level consultants (and we are), that'd be the key problem. But when you're talking about middle managers, you'd have to point the finger right back at the agencies - did you train your AEs well enough to become your AMs? Perhaps it's the education system in the agency that's been a bit out of touch?

Competitive remuneration
More than one person I know who's joined a PR agency from another industry or started fresh with high hopes of high pay has been disappointed.

For the job and stress PR consultants handle, the job usually does not reward as well as other vocations. Invariably, entry level staff who've taken one or two years under their belt feel challenged to continue their tenure as PR consultants and leave the industry. Or settle for a cushy job in-house.

With a lack of empirical information, I'd say this is the major reason why so many young consultants become disillusioned with the industry. Honestly, not everyone in the industry has passion and drive at the level where those alone will keep them at their desks, toiling away for clients. For most pragmatic people, it's a strategic combination of drive and love for PR, and monetary realities that keep them where they are.

So PR agencies really have to consider - what are they paying their young? Does it help their young keep up with their modern lifestyle? ($$ barometer check - prices at Starbucks have gone up in the past 2 years)

What most PR agencies do, from observation, is pay well on top to keep their top guys, but skimp on what junior staff take home. Perhaps there is a need for agencies who have wonderful corporate philosophy's to ensure this gets translated into pay packet. What's the point of playing for Manchester United when you take home Cardiff pay?

Let's face it, in-house marketing, communications or just a job in a whole different industry becomes more enticing to the lower-levels of PR consultants when money is more material than job satisfaction.

Work-life balance
Many bosses repeat this mantra. Yet the sad reality is that most PR practitioners in the junior levels see their lives fade away into nothingness.

Each agency has its way of dealing with this. Perhaps what is needed is to evaluate if your agency is dealing with this effectively? Do your staff really want to hang out together for a movie? Or would they just prefer to go home early?

The direct counterbalance to this is the need and lust for more business. Both agencies I've been in subscribe to the "entrepreneurial spirit". That's a great thing in itself, but in the drive for more business, we just need to be aware that our junior staff are not crying for salvation silently.

My take on the whole issue is that most young consultants jump ship before they ever reach middle management. For them, the wait wasn't worth it when a quicker solution was available. The REAL solution? Consider what I've just written. You may be worth more than you're paid.

If you're a middle manager. :)

Trying to participate

I'm inspired by this interesting post that was sent to me by a colleague: http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/archives/005687.html

Now, I've been in PR for the past three plus years. This, by no means, is a fantastic amount of years to have been in PR, but it's respectable enough I guess for me to point in the general direction of "cluefulness".

Yup. The past three years I've been in PR has seen perhaps the biggest debates about how media is changing and how PR needs to change with it.

If you bothered to read the post through, you'd find the statement that some PR practitioners still think PR means 'Press Release.' You also see a comment by Dave McClure who makes use of the moniker "general cluefulness". Which strikes me.

Suddenly, I feel challenged to be "clued" in. "Clued", if I may borrow Mr. McClure's term, in the sense that I'm connected. I'm engaged. I'm in the "circle of trust" if you may.

You see, there's a wide world of PR practitioners out there who are struggling to make sense of all this mojo about blogging (and now "twitting"), podcasting, mashing and, if Yahoo! has it's way, "piping" And despite my proud record as a gamer and general tech geek, I find myself struggling to make sense of this too.

So, this is my shout-out to be a Malaysian who's participating with the rest of the world in trying to make sense of this. I figure I've started and killed seven or eight blogs already, mostly of personal nature, but I'd like to see if I can make the one year mark with this.

I welcome anyone else in the PR or media industry who's trying to "clue in". I also welcome any onlookers who just want to talk.

Let's get clued in.