The PALette 2021: Wired-In 2nd Communication and Public Relations was launched on 27 March 2021 via Facebook Live. It was jointly organised by the School of Multimedia Technology and Communication from Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) and the Department of Public Relations parked under Faculty of Arts and Social Science (FAS) of UTAR Kampar Campus. In line with the Wired-In 2nd Communication and Public Relations Webinar series, a large-scale online activity consisting of six webinars and 18 campaigns was also organised by all 131 Public Relations (PR) students from 1 March 2021 to 28 March 2021 via Facebook and Instagram.
The objective of PALette 2021 was to support the local Malaysians in their journey as they face current struggles such as the COVID-19 pandemic. It also aimed to motivate the nation and citizens to move forward during the COVID-19 pandemic period. The webinar also aimed to enhance public awareness on how the frontliners and the COVID-19 survivors go through their daily lives in fighting against the COVID-19.
The event “Wired-In: 2nd Communication and Public Relations Webinar” was comprised of three main event activities which were keynote speeches, industry talk and Final Year Project (FYP) poster competition. After the welcome speech by UTAR FAS Dean Dr Lee Lai Meng, the event was graced by UTAR Vice President for Student Development and Alumni Relations Prof Dr Choong Chee Keong.
“It gives me great pleasure to be able to attend this event. Every year we look forward to events held by the Public Relations students who take UAMP2023 Event Planning and UAMP2033 Event Management courses. In the past, we used to hold large scale or small scale physical events which are usually completed by the students themselves, guided by a few faculty members. Organising these events allows our students to apply the theories they have learnt and gain hands-on experience,” said Dr Lee in her welcome speech.
Prof Choong said in his opening speech, “The PALette 2021: Wired-In 2nd Communication and Public Relations Webinar was first organised in 2019. It attracted many local and international participants and speakers, Public Relations industry experts as well as staff and students from UTAR. As a university ‘by the people, for the people’, UTAR has always believed in community engagement and enriching activities not only for the students in the university but also the public community.”
He added, “Therefore, this webinar is most relevant for our students and youths who need to brace themselves for greater digitisation and transformation in their lifestyle and at their workplace with never before challenges prior to the pandemic. Through this webinar, I hope that participants will also be able to identify future skill needs, and hopefully discuss solutions to problems that will reflect long-term sustainability, and engage in meaningful discussions with the speakers, peers and professionals.”
University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Assoc Prof Dr Chang Peng Kee was invited to deliver an officiating speech titled “The Labour Market Outlook in the Pandemic Economy: Challenges for PR and Communication Graduating Students in Malaysia” where he advised graduates to learn more skills in order to secure a job. “To secure a job during this pandemic period, I would suggest you to have additional skills such as analytical thinking, innovation, active learning and learning strategies. Besides, as a PR student, the ability to manage people is indeed important,” he said.
Invited to deliver the keynote speeches were University of Southern Queensland Public Relations Senior Lecturer Dr Chris Kossen and UUM College of Arts and Science Multimedia Technology and Communication Senior Lecturer Dr Mohd Khairie bin Ahmad. They presented their topics titled “Micro-learning an Online Delivery and Pedagogy” and “Disruptive PR: Unmask the strategic communication” respectively.
While speaking of the effectiveness of micro-learning as a teaching method, Dr Chris enthused, “Micro-learning is useful in two ways; it increases interest and it is less daunting. To increase the interest in learning for students, we have to design principles to reduce the volume of learning materials. This would improve students’ learning experience and outcomes. Since it is less daunting, it could help increase students’ motivation to engage in content and learning by making learning materials more attractive to students.”
On the other hand, Dr Mohd Khairie’s keynote speech focused on the impact of digital/cyber communication on Public Relations Practice. He told the participants that high technology has become a form of social relationship, so the disruptive technology has dramatically transformed the industry. “Disruptive PR happens because of technology, gadgets, automation of processes, social media or innovations in terms of products and services. This affects the stages of planning, executing, and managing a communication strategy,” he said.
The keynote speeches were followed by FYP Poster Competition where students from universities all over the country compete to present their FYP posters. There were ten entrants and the winners received a cash reward.
The industry talk session was kicked off by Bridges PR & Events Sdn Bhd General Manager-cum-UTAR alumnus Leonard Heng who talked about the foundations of communication, as well as digital and formal public relations.
Two online forums were held after the industry talk session. Invited to speak during the online forum were Memoires Event Management Sdn Bhd Founder Pinky Tiong, Brand Soul Malaysia Sdn Bhd Co-Founder Stella Wong and Brand Activation, IN2 Marketing and Consulting Sdn Bhd Assistant Manager Desmond Tan Chong Kee. The forum was titled “The future of PR and communications post-COVID-19”. It was moderated by UTAR FAS lecturer Pong Kok Shiong.
The online forum titled “Challenges faced by students undergoing OTL” featured university students. The invited speakers were HELP University (Damansara) Faculty of Arts and Communication student Adrian Tam Zhi Tin, MARA Diploma in English Communication student Amirah Afrina binti Bahrinshah, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication student Muhammad Izzudin bin Shahrom and UTAR FAS student Sherwina Deepa Devanbu. The forum was moderated by PALette 2021 Chairperson-cum-UTAR FAS student Alycia Wong Lye Min.
The event ended with a closing speech by UTAR FAS Department of Public Relations Head Dr S Maartandan Suppiah. He said, “Thank you, everyone, for participating in The PALette 2021: Wired-In 2nd Communication and Public Relations Webinar. I hope that every one of you has personally benefited from this webinar. I am also pleased to witness the participation of undergraduates from various institutes in the FYP Poster Competition. This signifies that seeking strategic partnership among higher education institutions can add greater value to the undergraduates.”
The grand launch was the collaborative efforts of all five groups. Prior to the grand launch, each group also organised a series of activities, including six webinars and 18 campaigns that revolved around social issues such as cyberbullying, cybercrime, communications, front-liners and mental health, and sustainability and digital transformation. The PR students were led by two advisors, namely FAS Department of Public Relations lecturers Clarence Anthony Puspanathan and Nur Zahrawaani binti Jasmin.
With the aim to develop a healthier cyber environment by organising awareness campaigns and webinars, Group Lacuna, consisting of 23 dedicated students, focused on the issue of cyberbullying and cyberspace with their sub-theme ‘Message from Lacuna: Social Media 101’. The webinar was held via Facebook Live on 6 March 2021.
The webinar featured two major talks titled “Think Before You Leap” and “Breaking Walls and Building Armour” and a contest titled “Quizizz Game Session”. The Project Advisor of PALette 2021, Clarence said, “With today’s webinar, I hope the professional speakers will share information about cyberbullying and provide the public and students with more ideas on how to deal with cyberbullying.”
Invited to deliver the talks for the two webinars titled “Think Before You Leap” and “Breaking Walls and Building Armour” were Inside Think Tank Creative Founder-cum-“Kenn’s Blog” Blogger Yeap Thiam Hoong and UTAR FAS Department of Psychology and Counselling lecturer Wirawahida binti Kamarul Zaman respectively.
The webinar ended with “Quizizz Game Session”, an easy contest with interesting prizes. The purpose of this session was to increase the audience’s understanding of cyberbullying as well as to help them recall all the important information provided by the invited speakers.
With the aim to contribute to the effort of reducing cyber-crimes caused by the pandemic, Group Cyber Smart from PALette 2021 organised a series of quiz and provided knowledge via video sharing on Facebook from 3 March 2021 to 5 March 2021. They also invited a police officer and criminology experts to conduct a webinar titled “Beware: Are You an Easy Target” in order to educate the audiences, especially the youngsters that are not aware of scams. The event was held on 4 March 2021 via Facebook Live.
Invited to speak at the webinar titled were National University of Malaysia Criminologist and Senior Lecturer Assoc Prof Dr Mohammad Rahim Kammaluddin and Jenayah Telekomunikasi JSJK Pegawai Penyiasat Kanan DSP Nur Asrul Hj Ariff.
Aside from listening to the informative talks from the speakers, the audiences also had the chance to participate in a lucky draw session which was conducted during break time. A total of 10 winners was chosen from the lucky draw. The lucky draw numbers were given to the participants when they registered for the event through the Google Form.
To highlight the contributions of the frontliners and to provide awareness on the COVID-19, Group Pharos of PALette 2021 organised a webinar titled “Real – Life Stories: Frontliners – I, Want to Share!” on 17 March 2021 via Facebook Live. The group was comprised of 30 passionate students. Key stakeholders such as doctors, nurses, delivery personnel and even COVID-19 survivors were invited to share their experiences and struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moreover, mental health campaign like virtual Zumba session titled “Kick with Zumba” was also conducted on 13 March 2021 by Zumba instructors Eric Soo (conducted in Chinese) and Sheena William (conducted in English). The purpose of organising the Zumba session was to provide the participants with a short getaway from the hustles and bustles of their life.
During the event, the students also took the opportunity to show their respects and give thanks to all the frontline heroes on the Facebook page of PALette 2021: Pharos. A few Augmented-Reality filters were published to viral the appreciation messages for the frontliners.
To educate the public about the effective use of recyclable and reusable items to reduce waste as well as the consequences of improper waste disposal towards the environment, a group of 15 passionate PR students from Group Green Mania organised an online campaign titled “Green Mania” from 15 March 2021 to 19 March 2021 via Facebook page “PALette 2021: Green Mania”.
The highlights of the campaign activities were “Fabric Mask DIY Workshop” and the #RabbitRingChallenge. The #RabbitRingChallenge served as a way to encourage the public to turn waste into cute accessories by using the discarded face mask, while “Fabric Mask DIY Workshop” encouraged the public to showcase their creativity and practice 3R (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle) by making their own masks. A live streaming video which was conducted in both English and Mandarin was carried out to explain the steps to make the fabric mask.
In hopes to stimulate the public’s interest and instil environmental awareness among the public through informative and innovative contents, the group also did promotional efforts by sharing information and held activities such as lucky draw session, posters, video, infographics, memes, animations and Augmented Reality (AR) filteron the social media accounts.
The campaign received tremendous support from the public as there were more than 50 participants who participated in the #RabbitRingChallenge. The campaign also gained over 3.2k audience engagements during the Facebook Live of the “Fabric Mask DIY Workshop”.
With the goal to recognise and promote local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which have transformed digitally during the pandemic and to motivate young entrepreneurs to pursue digital businesses, the Group Digital Transformer of PALette 2021 organised a webinar titled “Transform! Stepping into the Digital Space” on 28 March 2021 via Microsoft Teams. The event was promoted on their Facebook page “PALette 2021: Digital Transformer”.
Invited to speak at the webinar were Yours Truly Entertainment Founder Lay Yishern and Strategy for Nodrad Sdn Bhd Vice President Gobaind Naidu.
Lay said, “I am an ex-pilot. I decided to retrench my job because of the pandemic. However, the pandemic did not stop me from venturing into a new business as I found a one-stop event service provider - Yours Truly Entertainment. I am not from a PR or Marketing educational background but I was able to manage my business well. I believe this is because of my attitude of never giving up and keep learning.” He also shared his experience of ups and downs during the process of transformation.
During his sharing session titled “Data Driven Organisation”, Naidu told the participants that there were eight business models using data which included “Knowing your customer, leading to better targeting and relationship (Disney and Netflix)”, “Information-based better services (UPS and FedEx)”, “Data-driven reliability (BMW and Siemens)”, “Information Brokers, Arbitrage and Trading Opportunities: Investment funds”, “Improving the customer journey/experience (Harrah’s)”, “Risk Management, regulation and compliance”, “Efficiency or Beer performance per dollar cost (General IT and SAP)” and “Functional Applications: Human Resource and Hiring, Operations (Walmart)”.
The webinar ended with a Q&A session and a quiz session. The video saw 1.4k views on Facebook on 31 May 2021.