Curtin Malaysia students global ambassadors at 2018 GlobCom Symposium

Miri – 11 July 2018 – Four public relations students of Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) were global ambassadors for their varsity at the 16th Global Communications Project (GlobCom 2018) held at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok recently.

They were Yvonne Au Siao Tong, Ashley Elise Protasi, Thasleem Nisha and Camelia Nancy Harris, who were accompanied by lecturer Dr. Fidella Tiew.

With the theme ‘Creating a Positive Communication Climate for Unconventional Energy Sources’, the 5-day symposium brought together nine international teams comprising over 200 students from the participating universities.

The universities were Curtin University, University of Erfurt (Germany), Institute of Media Management and Information Technology Studies / National Journalism University (India), Università degli Studi di Udine (Italy), Vilnius University (Lithuania), AUT University (New Zealand), Superior School of Mass Communication and Media Arts / Polytechnic Institute (Portugal), State University St. Petersburg (Russia), Stellenbosch University (South Africa), Ramon Llull University (Spain), Chulalongkorn University (Thailand), Zayed University (Abu Dhabi), Leeds Metropolitan University (UK) and Emerson College (USA).

GlobCom is an annual international initiative coordinated amongst 16 universities across 14 countries in four continents aimed at creating a platform for intercultural cooperation among students and lecturers in the fields of public relations (PR) and communications.

Each year, a number of virtual student teams comprising students from each participating university are formed and act as ‘global PR agencies’ for a real-life international client. The client provides them a PR brief from which they would develop creative and realistic PR solutions within three months, collaborating online in chatrooms, by email, Skype, social media, or by phone.

They would then converge at the symposium where, mentored by professionals from international PR firms, they present their proposals to the client and judges like a real-life PR pitch.

The client this year was INEOS, one of the world’s leading producers of petrochemicals, speciality chemicals and oil products, and the teams had to develop strategic communication campaigns for the company by using an integrated internal and external communications approach. The campaigns had to target politicians, communities, influencers (environmentalists), media and staff, as well as consumers.

Unit leader for the students’ Public Relations – Cross Cultural Communication unit, Dr. Adamu Abbas Adamu, said participation in GlobCom is embedded in the unit and Curtin Malaysia students, along with students from Curtin’s main campus in Perth, have been participating since 2015.

“GlobCom exposes our students to different communication styles and cultural settings as they are required to work people with people from a variety of countries and cultural backgrounds. It also introduces them to new communication tools practiced in industry,” commented Dr. Adamu.

He added that it gives them the valuable opportunity to deal with high-profile, real-life clients.

“Very few PR professionals have the ability to run global accounts and there is a growing demand from global companies and agencies for professionals with international and intercultural PR experiences. This is a very good learning experience for them and will certainly look good on their resumés,” he said.

In 2015, Curtin Malaysia had the honour of hosting the GlobCom Symposium in Miri, the first time it was held in Malaysia. That year, the international participants, including those from Curtin Malaysia, devised communications solutions for the Heart of Borneo Initiative, the government-led and NGO-supported conservation and sustainable development programme established by the governments of Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.

In 2016, they proposed communications solutions for the Dugong & Seagrass Conservation Project in Abu Dhabi, and in 2017, for GlobCom 2017 in Bangalore, India, they crafted communication strategies on ‘Vision Crisis’ for ZEISS Germany, a global leader in lenses.

According to Volker Stoltz, president of Global Communication Institute e.V. and co–founder of GlobCom, the diversity and collaboration of cultures and expertise in global virtual teams can achieve great success once they overcome the initial challenges.

“Working in global virtual teams is not an easy process. Cultures are diverse and there are many prejudices and misunderstandings to be overcome, which can be frustrating. Also, working virtually means the teams do not have the same social benefits of face-to-face teams, and therefore, building team cooperation and carrying out regular communication is more challenging, and even more vital,” he said.

He added that in different parts of the world, common words and terms may not have the same meaning. Furthermore, PR is often understood and implemented differently in each country. However, every year, after the rich experience of GlobCom, the participants say they walk away with a much greater knowledge and understanding of international PR as well as of people around the world.

To learn more about Curtin Malaysia, visit its website (, Facebook page (CurtinMalaysia), Twitter profile (curtinmalaysia), Google+ page (Curtin Malaysia), Instagram (curtinmalaysia) or YouTube channel (Curtin Malaysia).

Curtin Malaysia students (2nd – 5th left) Thasleem Nisha, Yvonne Au, Camelia Nancy Harris and Ashley Elise Protasi with lecturer Fidella Tiew in Bangkok.

GlobCom 2018 participants gather for a group photo. 

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