Meet Peter de Kretser, the multi-talented Chief Executive Officer of GO Communications.
Born into a public relations family, de Krester quickly ascended in the PR game. But before communications, de Kretser’s professional career began at 18 in interestingly, the football arena while still schooling.
De Kretser signed professional football contracts in both Australia’s A-League and the S-League in Singapore, before moving into the communications world with J Walter Thompson (Australia) and MDK Consultants. Both de Kretser and his father, Michael de Kretser started GO Communications, one of Asia’s leading independent PR agencies, 12 years ago, and has since expanded the company’s footprint to fifteen markets throughout Asia under the GO group.
GO Communications (GO) is also the winner of bronze and Local Hero awards under the Public Relations Agency of the Year category, for A+M magazine’s Agency of the Year 2017.
In a conversation with A+M, the football enthusiast and entrepreneur shares on who inspires him most and the proudest moment in his career.
How do you describe your management style?
Inclusive, demonstrative and flexible - our greatest asset is our team.
At GO, a dynamic and positive culture is sovereign and that can only be created and enhanced by the team!
Who was the mentor who influenced you the most and how?
An avid sports lover, I have long been a big fan of Mark McCormack, ex-founder and chairman of IMG (International Management Group). His leadership style and vision seemed incredibly relatable and light years ahead of its time. He coined the phrase, “If you aren’t afraid to fail, then you probably don’t care enough about success”, something all entrepreneurs can relate to. It also didn’t hurt that he managed some of the finest names in sport over the last three decades!
My late father, Michael easily had the most profound impact on my professional career and was a true champion of the industry. Hugely experienced and one of the pioneers of PR in Asia, Michael set the tone for challenging industry norms in the way brands should or could be promoted. The GO mantra today continues this very same vision and mission in efforts to push the boundaries in strategy campaign creation and execution, enhancing results.
What has been the proudest moment in your career?
That’s a tough question and it’s been a long and winding road so far, but a rewarding one nonetheless.
I started my first business at 21. It was an oyster farm in Singapore - we were the first to grow and produce oysters in warm temperature waters! Those beginnings to now expanding GO’s PR network throughout Asia and beyond have been incredibly satisfying and fraught with their own challenges.
In some ways, I feel I'm really lucky. If I had to choose, I would have to say working hand-in-glove with my late father in setting up a new entity completely independently in a relatively new market (for us) was the most challenging. But in hindsight, it has also been a part of my career of which I am most proud. The old bull and the young bear enabled GO to take flight and build us into the company and network we are today.
What inspires you the most?
Growth. Growth in business, growth in people - it’s addictive and incredibly inspiring.
What’s the toughest part of your job?
At GO, I’d like to believe we look at things a little differently and champion unique and creative campaigns or strategies for our clients. While this can be an incredibly rewarding experience for both client and agency, not all brands conform to like-minded thinking.
Breaking the shackles of conservative thinking and motivating clients to see a different approach that will provide beneficial returns, can sometimes be a challenge.
In the early days of growing the agency, we would believe in the idea so much we would tell the client we would implement for free just to convince them to take a leap of faith. Only after the campaign and high-performing results, we would send them a bill.
What has been the harshest thing said to you?
“You have two weeks to stay afloat”
That gets your blood pumping and you have no choice but to make it work.
The business and PR world can be a tough place, but you learn to develop a thick hide and focus on what’s morally and ethically right.
What do you do in your free time?
Sport and travel - nine holes on a Saturday morning coupled with watching a live English Premier League match with a few mates over a cold beer marks an enjoyable weekend.
How do you ensure a proper work life balance?
Rumour has it that being a PR professional places you within the top five of most stressful jobs in the world.
Our business is an art not a science where the nucleus of a great idea or strategy is formulated when the mind is clear and not behind four white walls (the office) at two o’clock in the morning.
My simple principle has always been to reward oneself - work hard and productively and enjoy a break in celebration knowing full well you’ve given your all.
What is your favourite vacation spot?
The pearl of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka! Our ancestry stems from the Dutch burgher days prior to the unfortunate conflict so naturally there’s a biblical bond to the country.
Sri Lanka, is a promising paradise rich in history and tradition. It is flooded with old world charm and hospitable people. Whether catching up with a few friends on the old Colombo golf course or lying by the famed Galle beaches, it’s a destination with a multitude of offerings.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone just starting out?
Dive in with the right attitude and absorb as much as you can like a sponge!
Contribute, rather than formulate a LinkedIn page of clients you might have worked on with a team. Be proud of campaigns that you have initiated or conceptualised.
Let people know you’re there, you’re committed and have a clear idea of what you want to learn and where you want to be in the company in six months’ time.
What issue would you like to see the industry change in 2017?
The PR industry continues to mature and evolve in Malaysia as more and more brands see tremendous value and respect PR as a critical part of the marketing mix. One only hopes the upward trend continues and reputable agencies and practitioners are valued as they are in other parts of the world.