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When life comes knocking: Cho Pei Lin of APRW on defining and dealing with stress
2024-05-20 02:29:00

When life comes knocking: Cho Pei Lin of APRW on defining and dealing with stress

When life comes knocking is a column featuring changemakers–a PR professional, a social entrepreneur, and a therapist–making a difference in other people’s lives and their responses to life’s many curveballs. 

Cho Pei Lin is a pioneer in introducing Litigation PR to Singapore and her forte includes providing strategic PR consultancy in public affairs and public education campaign communications, corporate, litigation and crisis communications and government relations. Image Courtesy of APRW

Mental Health Awareness Month, observed every May, is dedicated to raising awareness about mental health issues and the importance of mental well-being. The month-long observance encourages open conversations about mental health, aiming to reduce the stigma often associated with mental illnesses.

In the first of three part series, the Singapore National Co-operative Federation has spoken to Cho Pei Lin, Managing Director of local public relations (PR) agency APRW, on how she defines and deals with stress.

For the uninitiated, the PR industry is notorious for its intensity. Tight deadlines, at times demanding clients, and the perpetual challenge of maintaining a favourable public image are common challenges faced. But for the veteran media professional, she is unfazed with the problems that pop up. In fact, she doesn’t quite like the ‘stress’ word either. Or as she says: “I’d see them as problems. That way, I can resolve them.”

Read the full interview below.

Sng Ler Jun: How would you introduce yourself to someone you're meeting for the first time.

Cho Peilin: My name is Pei Lin. I am a Public Relations and Communication professional at the PR agency APRW. I have been there for over 20 years. That’s my professional side. Though personally, I am very much a family person and an active volunteer in the community.

LJ: Before APRW, you were a lawyer, right?

PL: Yes, I studied law and practised law for a while.

LJ: How did your expertise in law aid you in PR?

PL: Because of my legal background, I do a lot of crisis work at APRW. I'm also able to take care of our clients’ possible legal exposure when responding to a crisis.

LJ: You have been known to be a pioneer in litigation PR. How did you get acquainted in this in the first place? 

PL: When I started my PR career over 20 years ago, it was with the intent of being able to practice litigation PR. After reading a textbook on litigation PR, I was convinced that that's something that I could do, which combines my legal experience and my newfound career in PR.

After joining the agency and doing PR work, I went around talking to people about litigation PR but quickly realised that nobody knew what I was talking about and nobody could give me work.

I never gave up trying to find work around litigation PR. To do so, I needed people to first understand what that means. I found that people could respond better when we use the term ‘crisis communication’ than litigation communications.

So, that’s when people start coming to me for crisis communication. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that people understood what litigation PR is about.

Cho Pei Lin and her team at APRW 2024. By the staircase.
The team at APRW. Image courtesy of APRW.

LJ: We know PR can be super high strung and stressful. What does stress look like for you?

PL: I get frustrated at the word ‘stress’. I don't like it either. It's an ambiguous term that I cannot understand. I prefer the word ‘problems’ because only then can I find solutions to resolve these issues.

LJ: So, you are a matter-of-fact realist.

PL: Yes. When you asked about how I deal with certain problems at work, such as having too much work, the answer could be as simple as reducing the workload.

LJ: Do you get burnouts then?

PL: I don’t know how to define what burnouts are but I do get days when I get very tired. Sometimes it’s because of a lack of sleep. So, I'll have to find time to sleep. If I have bad back or shoulder aches that sometimes feel too unbearable, I’d find time to schedule a massage, or maybe take a hot shower to loosen up my muscles. 

I have always been practical since young.

LJ: At one point in your life, when you were practising law, you clocked 364 (out of 365) days of work. Your mother eventually made some comments. 

PL: Not some comments; she gave me an ultimatum: I either join them for a holiday or move out of her house.

LJ: What did you do?

PL: I did my math. If I were to rent a room, I wouldn’t have any money left. (Laughs) 

LJ: (laughs)

PL: I told my boss my plans to resign and gave him four months’ worth of notice. At first, he thought I was poached but eventually he believed me.

LJ: What does self-care look like for you? 

PL: Every minute is self-care. I very much like to live in the moment. Every meal, every conversation, or when I walk to my car and see the clouds, I will be happy. A lot of things that bring me joy are very small things.

LJ: Is the glass half full or half empty?

PL: Half full. I guess you could say I am an optimist.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Images courtesy of APRW and Cho Pei Lin.

By Sng Ler Jun

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