HIS dream to be well-known in the industry has him learning to build positive relationships with the media.
A talkative person, and often labelled a “portable Google” among his friends, this 25-year-old chap is going through exciting times.
Asrul Fitri Alias was born in Negri Sembilan and grew up in Manchester, England, until the tender age of seven.
The only son of Alias Mohd Yassin and Norrimah Tak Mustafa, and a brother to Normalina Alias, Asrul said that it was hard growing up when your family expected a lot out of you.
“I look up to my father, he is not only a great dad but also my mentor — my ‘go-to person’. Whenever I went through tough times, my father always provided me with the best solutions to move forward.
“He always pushed me to strive harder and taught me to make tough choices so that it would benefit me in the future. He once said to me ‘without sacrifice and hard work there will be no triumph in the end’,” he said.
When Asrul did not excel in his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination, he thought that was the end for his dreams, but he wasted no time and went on to do his Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia (STPM).
“It was during Form 6 that I met an extraordinary man named Shahir. Although he was blind, he was positive and had a good heart. He never let his disability get in the way of leading a normal life. He not only supported and advised me — he also helped a lot with my studies,” added Asrul.
WHEN IT STARTED
During his secondary school days in St John’s Institution, Asrul said he was approached by a friend from TV3, who filled him in on media relations strategies and everything he needed to know about public relations.
“He even invited me to Media Prima to see for myself the life of public relations personnel and media relations officers. Along the way I became a part-time trainee for an event and earned an experience in dealing with various people at different events.
“After STPM, I got an offer to pursue public relations in Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) and that was how my journey in the industry began,” he explained.
Asrul originally considered pursuing a law degree but ended up choosing public relations for a variety of reasons.
“I chose public relations because I wanted a career that allowed me to interact with others. I enjoy working with people and this career allows for me to do that. I have always been interested in campaigning and marketing, and public relations is a field that offers opportunities to do so. The flexible nature of public relations appealed to me.
“From thereon, I learnt the ropes about public relations and how to build a relationship with the media. I was interested to engage with any PR-related issue so I suppose being talkative does help,” he quipped.
FROM INTERN TO PR EXEC
Asrul studied in UiTM for three years, which he regards as “the best three years of my life”.
He completed his internship at the Institute of Public Relations Malaysia and worked as a public relations executive there, before joining Chemical Company Malaysia as a human resources executive.
Before that he was also part of the marketing and sales team at Real of Sport in Kuala Lumpur.
Asrul is now a public relations executive at Universiti Tun Abdul Razak (UNIRAZAK).
“I act as the liaison on education and business news between the university and the media. I’m responsible for the collection and gathering of information for press releases and also in charge of writing the press releases for university events.
“Apart from, that, I also update and announce any upcoming events through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram,” he added.
He is also the customer service relations officer responsible for any ad hoc issues such as complaints, help or questions pertaining to the university.
ON LEADERSHIP AND VOLUNTEERISM
“Leadership to me is something that can be learned through experience. Leaders need to know when to make the right decision and to be responsible enough to admit their mistakes. Good leadership is also based on how good a team is.
“I loved doing community service. I was active during my university days and had joined many clubs and societies. I was also a student representative for UiTM’s ‘International Education’ visit to Indonesia where we volunteered to be part of a humanitarian aid project at Gunung Sinabung, Indonesia.
“Now I volunteer my time for the blind students at St John’s Institutions, as their reader and helper,” he said.
ADVICE TO SCHOOL LEAVERS
Asrul thinks that school leavers should get involved in areas that they are passionate about. They must also believe in themselves and never let other people determine their future.
“Have fun during your studies, get to know different people, try new things and break the status quo.
“Join clubs at the university as you may learn a lot from various activities. Just remember that university life is not just about getting your degree but it is also where you build your potential and shape yourself to be part of the industry in the future,” he said.
His philosophy in life is: “Live by choice and not chance, believe every problem has a solution no matter what and always learn from mistakes”.
Asrul advises graduating students to be prepared, learn to adjust and never be afraid to ask for help.
“If you are still unable to find a job, don’t give up. Keep trying because there will definitely be one for you.”