Breaking New Ground

WKWSCI Associate Professor Augustine Pang is the first Asian to join the prestigious Arthur W. Page Society.

Pang, who was recently inducted into the Arthur W. Page Society, also clinched the 2015 Highly Commended Paper Award for an article he contributed to the "Corporate Communication: An International Journal." PHOTO: NICHOLAS TAN

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In September this year, Associate Professor Augustine Pang, director of the Master of Mass Communication Programme at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, was officially inducted into the illustrious Arthur W. Page Society. He is the first Asian to join the prestigious group of public relations practitioners.

Pang is among 40 academics currently admitted as members from around the world, with most from the U.S. and a few from Canada and Europe.

“I get the chance to be connected to the bright minds in the field, to get the chance to tap into their brains,” Pang said.

The society is a professional association for senior PR and corporate communications executives to share experiences and improve their capabilities. It organises insight forums around the world, where members receive knowledge about issues that affect their roles as decision makers in their organisations.

“Learning takes place when I’m keeping up with my readings; when I teach; when I interact with people in the industry.”

Other members of the society include chief communications officers from a number of Fortune 500 corporations such as Johnson & Johnson and Navistar International; CEOs of the world’s largest PR agencies; and leading academics from top business and communications schools who have distinguished themselves while teaching corporate communications.

Before being considered for admission, a candidate must be nominated by two current members of the society. The society’s board of trustees will then scrutinise the nomination before making a decision.

Pang had never thought of entering the association, until two current members of the society — professors Michael Goodman and Don Stacks from two universities in the U.S. — who took notice of him since his days as a doctoral student asked if he was willing to give it a shot.

“I knew of (the society) as very prestigious and select, but never thought I would one day be part of (it). It is an honour to be admitted,” he said.

Pang is excited about the learning opportunities presented by the society, adding that it is one way of contributing to his profession.

“Learning takes place when I’m keeping up with my readings; when I teach; when I interact with people in the industry,” he said. “Learning takes place all the time.”

Pang added that because of his busy schedule and recent induction, he has yet to participate in any of the society’s activities. However, he is keen to “get himself going,” by visiting the society’s headquarters in New York early next year.

His hectic schedule includes being involved in several research projects simultaneously, particularly those centred on crisis management and communication.

In school, Pang is in charge of 60 to 70 Master’s students every year. He will also be teaching an undergraduate course on crisis communication next semester.

As a professor and PR practitioner, his advice for students aspiring to work in the industry is not to take their role in PR for granted, but rather to use it as an opportunity to showcase what they can offer to the organisation by displaying good aptitude and attitude in the job.

“PR is about working to advance the strategic interests of the organisation. We can only do that if we can demonstrate our value to the organisation through our competence and confidence,” he said.

“If the students themselves don’t regard PR highly, they won’t gain respect once they go out,” he added. “But if you regard yourself professionally and with proficiency, you can demonstrate what kind of value you bring to the team.”