At Commtract, our community of experts are the lifeblood of our business. One initiative we are taking on is featuring more of our experts to showcase their unique talent, ready to be engaged on our marketplace! We interviewed public affairs expert, Deborah Chan – keep on reading to find out all about her!
1. What are you famous for? Connecting the dots. I watched a documentary on the 1978 Jonestown Massacre recently and resolved never to say, “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid”, again. But, it is an important principle. Businesses need to objectively consider how their key messages will be perceived and received by external audiences. My job is to connect the dots between organisational strategy and the external environment. To make sure communication objectives and messages are relevant, timely, and enjoy a happy landing.
2. I got into communications etc. because…. I like helping individuals and organisations become all they can be and obtain the recognition they deserve. At the end of the day, it’s not about me. It’s about the client and promoting their success. I also love finding creative and clever ways to promote a brand.
3. You have extensive experience working with government bodies, especially in your stint for the Federal Government as Assistant Health Minister. What were some of the major projects you were across, and your major learnings that have helped you become the comms professional you are today? In Government, one of my areas was organ and tissue donation. From memory, the Organ and Tissue Authority (OTA) was the only agency in my brief with a solid annual communication strategy. It’s easy to spend most of your time in the reactive zone, especially in politics! But, without a strategy, supported by individual communication plans, it’s impossible to achieve long-term objectives.
Honest messaging is another thing. (I know, it sounds ridiculous in politics). But, once a press release came across my desk and the lead paragraph was obviously designed to distract the media from a negative outcome in the health portfolio. Journalists see through spin. If it’s bad news, own it, and tell people how you’re going to fix it.
4. Any advice for communications professionals looking to enter government relations/public affairs/public policy? Do it. Politics and policy is FUN. You get to work on a broad range of issues, meet some magnificent public servants, political staffers, and politicians, and make a difference. But be warned, it’s hard to come down from. Life will never be the same.
5. Who is/has been a great mentor to you and why? My managers at Johnson & Johnson had a profound influence on me. I’m still in touch with one of them. Under their guidance, I learned the importance of collaboration, strategic planning, and being proactive rather than reactive during a crisis.
6. If I weren’t doing this for a living, I’d be: On the stage – the theatre is my happy place.