Ms Pearlyn Tseng finds meaning in a career that raises awareness about society’s pressing issues
By Gel Cabotaje
Jan 6, 2020
In 2018, a social experiment on mental health stigma in Singapore reached hundreds of thousands of viewers on YouTube. The four-minute clip features people sharing their personal views towards persons with mental health conditions without knowing that the individuals they’re talking to are diagnosed with depression.
The video, part of the Beyond the Label campaign by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), is one of the many fulfilling projects Ms Pearlyn Tseng has worked on during her decades-long career in communications.
“The Beyond the Label movement highlights the need for the public to be more accepting and support persons with mental health conditions in our community,” says the 46-year-old corporate communications director of NCSS.
The campaign garnered several awards in the marketing and public relations industries, but for Ms Tseng, the most important thing about spearheading the project was seeing a positive shift in public attitudes towards people with mental health conditions, as reflected in post-campaign evaluation assessments.
At the core of Ms Tseng’s career is the bid to make a difference in people’s lives through communication. Although she sets the direction, teamwork is key to the success of the projects she works on.
“I don’t work alone on these campaigns. The ability to work with different stakeholders, allowing room for creative freedom and making bold decisions is also critical to success,” she says.
Ms Tseng has been in the field of communications since she earned her Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English Language and History, from the National University of Singapore in 1995. But as her career progressed and job responsibilities grew, she felt the need to upskill to deliver better results.
“I always believe in continuous learning, especially in the communications field, where things are dynamic and ever-changing,” says Ms Tseng. She earned a Graduate Diploma in Marketing from the Marketing Institute of Singapore at first, but when she realised she needed a degree that was more related to her job, she applied for a Master in Mass Communication degree with the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information at Nanyang Technological University.
“A postgraduate degree helps you to keep up to date with communications research, provides a deeper level of knowledge and gives you a competitive edge on top of the varied experience that one gets in the working world,” she says.
The curriculum, which encompasses various areas of media communication, appealed to Ms Tseng, who was then a corporate marketing deputy director at Health Promotion Board (HPB). She remembers having modules like Health Communications, which taught her how to better convey messages to the public. She applied what she learned in the classroom in campaigns such as the anti-smoking I Quit movement at HPB.
“In this field, you have to understand who your audience is so you can connect with them to send across the message they need to hear in a way that they can relate to,” she says.
Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University
Full-time: One year
Part-time: Two years