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Across two stints at Emirates Group, Valerie Tan has risen to a leadership role that covers public relations, social media and internal communications for global airline Emirates and air services provider dnata.
Based in Dubai, Tan leads an in-house team of 30 professionals, overseeing a support network of over 80 communications agencies in the implementation of internal and external communications activity for Emirates and dnata worldwide. Tan has over a decade of experience in communications, and has also held leadership roles at Weber Shandwick in Singapore.
Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR’s direct impact on business performance?
I think PR’s power is the most obvious during issues/crisis response. Looking back, three examples come to mind, involving product recall, a high-profile healthcare service failure, and an air transport accident. In each of these cases, strong comms supported business continuity and quick recovery, by rallying the workforce, keeping stakeholders informed, and mobilising external advocates and relationships built up over time.
What are the communications industry’s biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?
New tech will allow us to create and land messages in a fragmented media space at scale, even more effectively. I worry about the decline of traditional journalism and media, and the digital echo-chamber that we (and our audiences) live in. I think the earned media opportunity today is in collabs with partners and influencer/advocates.
What have you most admired about the communications industry over the past year, and what has disappointed you?
There was no escaping debates on generative AI these past months. I’m pleased to note that across the comms industry most are proceeding with care and conscious of the risks. No real disappointments this year, although I do worry about attracting young talent to our industry moving forward.
What work from your team are you most proud of over the past year?
So many! But there's a certain satisfaction (and validation) when content goes viral. Our Christmas reindeers, and April Fools prank were highlights of the past 12 months.
How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness over the past year?
I've started gym classes. Now considering investing in home workout equipment, in the form of a Meta Quest Pro.
Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through the past year or provided inspiration?
Spotify’s K-pop crossover playlist. In general, I like the idea of creativity through cross-pollination. This extends to music.
If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
A FengShui master, possibly.
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