President Andy See: a Good to Great Story for Comms and PRGN Ahead

June 22 2023

As 32nd President of the Public Relations Global Network, Andy See is also the first Asian president of one of the world’s largest networks of independent PR and communications agencies. A native of Malaysia and founder and principal partner of Perspective Strategies in Kuala Lumpur, Andy started his one-year service at PRGN’s Member Meeting and Conference in Budapest in early May. Andy, who served as President of Public Relations and Communications Association of Malaysia (PRCA Malaysia) between 2018 and 2022 believes independent agencies – and agency groups like PRGN – will thrive in the changing marketplace and a challenging environment of today, due to their deep rooted local experience and expertise in complex issues. He sees AI as an opportunity for the comms industry in general and advocates for sustainability as the new profitability for firms and brands. Read more for his views on the state of the global communications landscape and the path ahead for PRGN and its member firms in the following interview.

PRGN President Andy See


Q:As PRGN’s first Asian president, how may be your aspirations and priorities different from others in the role?

Andy See: Indeed, I am honoured to be the first Asian and Malaysian to be entrusted with the responsibility to step up in this global leadership role. It will certainly be exciting to work together with PRGN members around the world as we drive innovation and push for the highest global standards in our local practice. 

My aspirations and priorities are similar to previous and current leaders of PRGN. The previous PRGN Presidents and I share a common goal – to grow the network into a truly global organisation of PR and communications business leaders.

PRGN is a global organisation of agency owners and leaders who all have skin in the game. We do not send delegates to represent our companies to meetings. As such, the relationships we build within the organisation are based on shared personal values and experiences, as well as trust.

In this tradition, I am committed to work with my colleagues in the Executive Committee to continue to grow the organisation and widen our global reach. Beyond just our geographic presence and membership number, we will also strengthen the relationships and friendships amongst our members. As PRGN grows, our greatest challenge will be to retain that close bond that we have built since the organisation’s inception.

Moreover, as the organisation’s first Asian President, I want to showcase PRGN’s global outlook and inclusiveness as an organisation to our stakeholders.

Hopefully, this will attract more agencies in Asia to be a part of our organisation. Of course, the spillover benefit will be to our clients and prospective clients – knowing how our global expertise and local knowledge can help them grow throughout the world especially in key growth markets in the Asia Pacific, EMEA and the Americas.

I will also continue to build up our initiatives to share knowledge on industry best practices, which will ultimately benefit our clients and team members. Because of our relationships, the knowledge we share comes from a sincere desire to see each other grow in our practice.

Q: You have also served as president of the PR and Communications Association of Malaysia in recent years. How do you see the issues and challenges the PR and communications industry faces in Asia are different from other regions? How should brands and companies approach this market differently than others?

A: There are many issues we face as an industry that are global in nature. Of course, there are also some that are more localised to our respective regions and countries.

In the case of Asia, the common pitfall is to assume that Asia is a homogenous or largely similar market. In fact, it is the opposite. Asia is one of the most diverse regions in the world. Even within individual countries, different languages are being used and the people may even speak multiple languages. We are very different culturally and economically from country to country as well.

From a communications perspective, the winning brands are always the brands that understand the nuisances of the local markets and design the relevant programmes

that will be able to capture the imagination of local consumers, leveraging on insights into their target markets’ unique languages, media consumption, social platforms, consumer behaviours, etc.

Q: The world today is often labelled as an environment of “polycrisis” for brands. How are independent communications agencies suited for assisting brands and companies in this sensitive and challenging period? What is their competitive advantage over holding company multinational agencies?

A: In the current cluttered, crowded and disrupted market, it is extremely difficult to craft a unique value proposition that is relevant to multiple stakeholders and markets.

With the changing marketplace and digital disruption, cookie cutter solutions in the form of standard global rollout of brand and communications programmes are usually doomed to fail.

In the current multi-platform environment, consumers and stakeholders have an active stake in the multi-faceted conversations that takes place. In this PR and communications landscape, audiences expect to “co-create” content and narratives. This makes it almost impossible for a global team to implement strategies successfully without deep local knowledge and experience.

I would dare claim that PRGN thrives in this new environment.

As the “world’s local agency”, PRGN is certainly well placed to capitalise on this complexity. We have the local experience of individual agencies, and the global outlook and expertise.

These are the key ingredients needed to build winning programmes and campaigns that are both meaningful and impactful to local consumers and stakeholders.

This is the best opportunity for PRGN members to showcase how we are able to draw from global best practices through our knowledge sharing, while at the same time contribute local perspectives to the network thereby adding to the collective knowledge of the organisation.

After all, our members are local experts who truly understand their market and can customise solutions and programmes that will be able to help clients build trust and win consumer confidence.

Q: What is your take on AI and its impact on the PR and communications business? What do you expect from the new technology? How are PRGN agencies approaching AI and getting prepared for its advancement in the content and communications business?

A: Digital disruptions have brought about significant changes in many industries and our economy. We have seen how that disruption has also revolutionised the media landscape across the world.

The rise of AI is set to bring about a new wave of disruptive change in the marketplace again. What we have seen now is just the tip of the iceberg.

I am excited that many PRGN agencies are not just embracing this change but are open to investing time and resources to learn and grow their expertise in exploiting AI.

As a global network, we will continue to leverage of our collective knowledge and expertise to ensure that we are in the best position to prepare for this significant change. PRGN will continue to give focus to AI as a key topic to share best practices and expertise.

Q: You’ve been personally a strong advocate for purpose-driven communications and recently your agency in Malaysia has taken up a role in developing the ESG-readiness of companies. What is your personal and professional motivation behind these efforts? And how does the market resonate with these approaches to corporate strategy and communications?

A: The age of PR4.0 has arrived together with the massive shift to digital and social. Of course, PR4.0 is more than just about switching to digital and social platforms, but it is about how we need to reimagine communications to keep target audiences and stakeholders engaged. 

We can see right now that consumers and stakeholders are consuming content with an expectation that goes beyond listening and understanding – they expect to have a stake and say in the news and sharing process. And the content they co-create is heavily dependent on whether they resonate with the company’s purpose.

PURPOSE is now perceived as the new ‘product’ of the marketplace while the GREEN movement is akin to the digital disruption, we once raved about years ago. SUSTAINABILITY is now the new ‘profitable’ that dominates boardroom discussions.

In other words, PURPOSE gives us the true north (the WHY) to anchor our narrative, and ESG provides a framework of WHAT and HOW we are delivering on our purpose.

This will give us facts, figures and other measurable initiatives or deliverables as part of our communication and engagement with stakeholders. ESG is not just about compliance. It is truly the enabler for us to communicate our purpose.

Without a doubt, Sustainability and ESG frameworks are the vehicles that enable our purpose-driven narrative to be communicated. They can help us share our story of how we are taking tangible steps from where we are now to where we want to be – a GOOD to GREAT story that gives room for your audience to be a part of it. This is crucial to winning in the marketplace since stakeholders, including customers, are now an integral part of the conversation in the marketplace.

I am truly convinced this is the way we need to approach communications right now and we can see clients are shifting their communication priorities as well.

Gábor Jelinek
Executive Director, President Andy See: a Good to Great Story for Comms and PRGN Ahead
With 15 years of agency management and communications consulting experience, preceded by a 10-year media career, Gabor is the Executive Director of Public Relations Global Network (PRGN). In that capacity Gabor is the center of action at the global network, supporting the work of the President and the Executive Committee to grow and develop the 30-year old communications network. Working closely with PRGN's Business, Marketing and Membership committees, Gabor is the driver of global business development, self-marketing and membership retention and recruitment.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.