Shifting Perspectives: Malik Ridhwan Zaihan, Communications Professional

Shifting Perspectives: Malik Ridhwan Zaihan, Communications Professional

Shifting Perspectives is an interview series exploring the stories of journalists who have made the move to a career in communications. This week, Telum spoke with Malik Ridhwan Zaihan, a Communications Professional (Manager) at a local bank.

The breakdown:
  • Who: Malik Ridhwan Zaihan
  • Previous journalism role: Astro Awani
  • Current role: Communications Professional (Manager) at a local bank.
Tell us about your move into communications
Since moving from journalism into corporate communications, my role has evolved significantly, but still allows me to harness the power of effective communication. I've moved from reporting stories objectively to strategically shaping and delivering information to various stakeholders.

Building and maintaining positive relationships with these stakeholders is paramount, and I utilise my journalistic skills to anticipate questions, address concerns, and provide transparent and accurate information. I use my storytelling skills to create consistent narratives aligned with the company's goals. My audience includes the media, customers, employees, and investors. By collaborating with various teams, I contribute to the company's success by ensuring effective communication that supports the business strategy.

One of the most exciting aspects of corporate communications is the opportunity to be part of shaping the narrative around a company's initiatives, milestones, and innovations. While journalism allowed me to shine a light on stories from a neutral standpoint, corporate communications empowered me to actively build the organisation's reputation and contribute to its success.

In essence, my transition from working as a journalist to a corporate communications professional has been a natural progression, allowing me to utilise my storytelling skills in a different context. While the goals and methods have shifted, the fundamental essence of clear, impactful communication remains at the heart of everything I do.

What inspired your career change?
The shift from the media to the corporate world was motivated by a desire to apply my communication skills and expertise in a new context. While the media provided a platform to share stories, I was intrigued by the prospect of actively shaping narratives from within an organisation.

Joining the corporate world allowed me to leverage my storytelling abilities to build and maintain a consistent brand image, engage diverse stakeholders, and contribute to the company's overall success. This transition also offered the opportunity to collaborate closely with multidisciplinary teams, gaining insights into various aspects of business beyond reporting.

In essence, the move reflects a natural evolution of my passion for effective communication and my aspiration to make a broader impact within a corporate setting.

What differences have you observed between the two industries?
Transitioning from the media to the corporate world, I've observed several differences:
  • Objective: Media aims for unbiased reporting, while corporate comms shape narratives.
  • Audience: Media targets the public, corporate comms addresses stakeholders.
  • Voice: Media is neutral, corporate comms aligns with brand tone.
  • Transparency: Media emphasises it, corporate comms balances this with confidentiality.
  • Storytelling: Both industries value this, media for engagement, and corporate comms for perception.
  • Metrics: Media measures by reach, corporate comms measures by sentiment and goals.
  • Pace: Media is fast, corporate comms involves planned messaging.
In summary, the media and corporate worlds have differing priorities, audiences, and strategies, but the common thread of effective communication and storytelling ties them together, albeit in unique ways.

How has your view of the PR industry changed since leaving journalism?
Leaving journalism and entering the PR industry has provided me with a new perspective on several fronts:
  • Strategic focus: In PR, I've come to appreciate the strategic aspect of communication. While journalism informs, PR strategically crafts and disseminates messages to achieve specific goals.
  • Controlled messaging: PR involves controlling and shaping narratives to reflect a particular image or message, whereas journalism often presents diverse viewpoints without direct influence.
  • Audience understanding: PR emphasises understanding target audiences deeply to tailor messages effectively, compared to journalism, which addresses a broader readership.
  • Impact measurement: PR often measures success through brand sentiment, engagement, and business outcomes, contrasting with journalism's focus on public interest and storytelling impact.
  • Strategic timing: PR carefully times announcements for maximum impact, aligning with business strategies, whereas journalism operates in a more immediate and continuous news cycle.
  • Advocacy vs. Objectivity: PR sometimes involves advocating for a particular viewpoint or organisation, unlike journalism's commitment to objectivity.
In essence, my departure from journalism has shown me that PR is a multifaceted field that blends communication skills, strategic thinking, and collaboration to influence perceptions and drive business objectives.

Now that you are on "the other side", what advice do you have for journalists?
Having transitioned from journalism to a different role, I can offer the following advice to fellow journalists:
  • Uphold journalistic integrity for audience trust.
  • Expand skills beyond writing to adapt to evolving media.
  • Verify sources to combat misinformation.
  • Prioritise research for contextual reporting.
  • Utilise storytelling to engage effectively.
  • Network for opportunities and insights.
  • Include diverse sources for comprehensive stories.
  • Be digitally literate - Understand the digital landscape to effectively distribute content.
  • Embrace change and leverage journalism skills in various fields.
Remember, journalism plays a critical role in society. Your work informs, educates, and influences public discourse. Stay true to your mission while evolving with the changing landscape.

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