Telum Talks To... Hazel Foo, Senior Manager, PR and Communications, Avnet Asia Pacific
To celebrate International Women's Day, Telum spoke with Hazel Foo from Avnet Asia Pacific.
You started your career in communications before working as a flight attendant for several years. Tell us about your experience returning to the communications industry.
I restarted my corporate career after five years in the skies. So much in the media and communications landscape had changed during that time. Looking back, I think the initial and biggest challenge was making myself relevant and current in the corporate world after my flying days. Things move at such a high speed that what may have worked yesterday, may not be applicable tomorrow.
What core communications practices drive engagement in the electronics and tech sectors?
To me, it's three areas of focus. The first is communicating brand value that is relatable and responsible – capture hearts and minds with meaningful content that matter to both customers and the public. Electronics and tech are something we require daily as essential commodities. While in public relations, communicating a brand's responsible and ethical business practices is instrumental. For example, corporate efforts in ESG or renewable energy help both global and local communities work really well in striking conversations with the media. At the same time, audiences are generally interested in reading these stories as well. It serves as a breakaway from just products, services, and profits stories for a while and allows the public to look at a brand with new perspective.
Another great practice is using social PR to leverage citizen journalism, digital channels, and influencer content to spread a message. For example, in China, we do not target the trade media only to push out PR and marketing content. Instead, we take an educational route and engage with experienced and credible journalists to push out our content on mainstream media. This elevates our reach and share of voice.
We also follow a core practice which is filtering data to extract meaningful insights and focus on what works to drive engagement. Taking electric vehicle as an example, lots of data shows that EV charging infrastructure continues to be a concern to vehicle owners who are resistant to purchasing a full EV. Therefore, the logical step is to start conversations about this topic.
What's your secret to juggling a successful career and family?
I am still struggling to juggle both roles. Daily work and my two young children are constantly competing for my attention and there's a lot of pressure to multitask. I am basically doing what I need to, which I believe every mother is doing as well.
I exercise mindfulness and jot down tasks that require immediate attention in my daily life. I also learn to pause and be present. Every evening, I will make notes on my mobile phone of things I want to do and achieve the following day. It can be anything, but I generally keep notes to around eight, which could include completing and fine-tuning a PR proposal, packing additional clothes into my toddler’s schoolbag for an excursion, following up with a pitch etc.
This way, I prioritise the tasks that require my full attention.
What unique values do you think women bring to this industry?
Despite years of conversation on the value women bring to fields that are more niche like electronics, we continued to be outnumbered and underrepresented in more senior roles. However, this is slowly changing for the better.
If I really have to mention a unique value that women bring to electronics and tech fields, it would be that women bring balance and diversity to a company. We possess different skills, dynamics and energy levels that contribute to creativity, innovativeness and progression.
I believe that a “diverse mindset” breeds growth and a “growth mindset” is the key to a successful and thriving business.
What advice would you give to fellow ladies who just started their career in communications?
You are never too new to think big.