PRoust Questionnaire: Jane Tchan

The PRoust Questionnaire provides a quick insight into a public relations practitioner’s interests and point of view, as well as his or her professional beliefs and values.

If you are not familiar with the original 19th-century Proust Questionnaire, please see details at the end of this post.

PRoust Questionnaire answers from Jane Tchan:

1. What is your most striking characteristic as a PR practitioner?

I am guided by spiritual and moral beliefs, so one of my aims is to do things right for people and to do the right things by people.

2. What is your principal fault as a PR practitioner?

People say  I make ‘things look simple and effortless’ which belies the thought processes I have been through to get to the strategic and tactical solutions and my natural ability to get people working and communicating with each other.

3. What is your favourite occupation in PR?

Working on projects/campaigns that are based on sound strategic thinking and involve creativity to solve the problem rather than be influenced by or copy what others are doing.

4. Why do you work in PR?

I have mainly been a communications all-rounder so I have a good understanding of marketing, marketing communications, internal communications, and more recently social media.  This should place me in a better position to ensure consistency of message internally and externally.  I work in communications because I love building narratives around a brand and supporting the brand to bring to life its values and beliefs.

5. What is your idea of PR nirvana?

I don’t believe in such a thing.  Communications is like a tap.  Once you turn it on, it should stay on.  The world is constantly changing, and at an even faster pace, thanks to technology, so nothing stays the same for too long.  Communications professionals should adapt and evolve and even better, get ahead.

6. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery in PR?

I often despair at the incompetence of high profile organisations in handling crisis, particularly ones where fatalities are involved.

7. What qualities do you most admire in a PR practitioner?

I am particularly drawn to people who show understanding, competence and analytical ability and are not just corporate message machines.

8. What qualities do you most dislike in a PR practitioner?

Superficiality, lack of knowledge to really represent their companies/clients, and no regard for the customer.

9. Who would you describe as a PR hero or villain?

My PR heroes are those people who work selflessly for the common good.  My PR villains are those people who seek media exposure for the sake of it.

10. What do you most value in your professional contacts?

Neither party is afraid to pick up the phone for a chat.

11. Have you ever been influenced by a PR campaign?

The best campaigns are those that enlighten me and change my opinion for the better. These are usually issue-based. So the good work that many charities do fall into this category.  Although I can’t help each charity that has had this impact on me, I have been a volunteer for a few.  So their campaigns have worked!

12. Where would you most like to practise PR?

I used to dream about lounging on a white washed veranda and basking in the sun whilst the waves of a cool blue ocean lapped below. Maybe realistically, any restaurant with a quiet corner table and a window view tempts me.

13. Has a novel, film, play or other work of fiction ever influenced you as a PR practitioner?

The book 1984 by George Orwell.  I have often thought it would be great if he were around today as I would value his views on social media and current world affairs.

14. Who do you think has great public relations?

Two high profile people who have over the decades sustained a high level of dignity and respect in spite of their personal suffering are Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi.  Both have come out winning and become prominent leaders of their countries.

15. Which real, historical or fictional person or brand would you like to give a reputation makeover?

If this person or brand is so well known, I think job done.  Their reputation must have been popular and hit a chord with people at the time.  Downfalls are always around the corner and people/brands can go out of fashion.  Notoriety cases will take more than a reputation makeover to redress.

16. Who is your favourite writer?

George Orwell as I subconsciously remember incidents, characters or scenes from 1984 and Animal Farm that resonant in my daily working life, and they make me smile.  He was able to drill down to the raw basic instincts of human nature.  I would love to have a conversation with him to find out his take on the last two decades and what he thinks about the future.

17. What one thing is essential to your PR life?

The ability to have 360 degrees vision and more (if possible) so I am better prepared.

18. Groucho Marx is quoted as saying he’d never join a club that would have him as a member. Which PR club, association or tribes do you belong to—and why?

I belong to several.  Of these, the one I have been a member of the longest and treasure the most is the National Union of Journalists.  I am proud to carry my press card.

19. Where do you most like to do your professional networking?

I tend not to do professional networking.  It all seems rather false, so I play a game at events to get me around the room.  I much prefer to have fun and meet people as people rather than worry whether they will be useful to me.

20. What’s the best career decision you ever made?

Not to be pigeon holed and do things I only like and which fit in with my values. Variety, diversity, developing my knowledge and skills are more important which may account for why people often comment on how passionate I am about what I am doing.

21. What skills and abilities do you think tomorrow’s PR leaders need?

There are too many PR followers.  The ones who will make a mark are those who are able to integrate social media as a mainstream communication channel along with traditional media.  Being responsive, nimble and adapting to the new language and order from social media communities will separate the new leaders from the old traditionalist.

22. Which talent would you most like to have?

To play the piano.

23. How would you like to end your PR career?

If only I had 360 degree vision!

24. How would you describe the current state of public relations?

In transition.  Not since The Age of Enlightenment, which is considered to be the last socio-political phenomena, have we seen such a redefining of communication power.  We are now entering a ‘new age of engagement’ where networking technologies are liberating, empowering and shifting the power of communication to people, clients and communities

25. What is your PR motto?

Enlighten, engage and enjoy.


Jane Tchan is a communications consultant. She has more than 25 years of experience gained from working across a diverse range of industries, including trade and professional associations, gaming, fashion, sports sponsorship, food and health, retailing, travel and tourism, exhibitions and events, and during which time she has also edited a variety of publications and online media.  After a 13-year career as an interim communications manager in the financial services sector, in 2011 she set up her own consultancy, Jane Tchan Limited, specializing in social media and commercial ventures.

Jane provides inspiration for Entrepreneurs at SmallBizPod (@SmallBizPod), and you can connect with her via Twitter or LinkedIn.


The PRoust Questionnaire was originally designed to reveal one’s personality. Its name and popularity as a form of interview has roots in the responses given by the French writer, Marcel Proust. His first set of responses came at the end of the nineteenth century, when he was still in his teens (from an English-language “confession album”).

For PR Conversations we have adapted this original idea with questions that offer a public relations’ perspective. It is fun to compare and contrast responses as the series grows. (See below.)

If you would like to be invited to complete our PRoust Questionnaire for posting on PR Conversations, please visit our Crowdsourcing suggestion form.

Earlier PRoust Questionnaire respondents:

– Sean Williams

– Al Clarke

– Léa Werthman

– Estelle de Beer

– Don Radoli

– Toni Muzi Falconi

– Richard Bailey

– Jane Jordan-Meier

– Nelly Benova

– Peter Stanton

– Mat Wilcox

– Anne Gregory

– Markus Pirchner

Heather Yaxley

– Judy Gombita

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