By: Justin Harvey N. Llamosa
It is a jungle out there, we need a camp that’s got our back.
I am Justin Harvey Llamosa, Executive Projects Associate of ComCo Southeast Asia. More than a year ago, I am Justin Harvey Llamosa, a graduate of Bachelor of Mass Communication from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (University of the City of Manila). I can still recall how clueless I was about what path to pursue after college. But now here I am with my inner rebel awakened after unexpectedly joining a camp called ComCo.
Mass Communication is a huge field that encompasses Broadcasting, Journalism, Film Making, Advertising, Public Relations, Theater Arts and so on. It is quite hard to specialize. So back in college, I tried every available learning opportunity so I can have a glimpse of the different industries. I participated in Radio Veritas’ Campus Hour for broadcasting. I had my internship at Columbia Pictures Industries Inc. for Film; joined PRSP Student Grand Prix for Public Relations (PR); and PANAnaw Awards for Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC). I believed that these would prepare me for the challenge after graduation. But in the real world, the truth is, it is not a walk in the park. It is a trek in the forest. I found myself asking, what else do I need and where do I start?
Joining the Rebellion
In July 2016, I was struck by a different kind of ad by a communications agency in search for the industry’s next creative rebels to be trained on the disciplines of New PR and Smart Social, and of course be employed by the company. It stirred my curiosity and imagination but I was still not certain this was the company and the industry for me, so I researched more. On their website, the head of the company talked about being a trailblazer in the industry. His quote read, “Should we adapt to the changing times? Our answer in ComCo is NO. Trailblazers don’t adapt. We take the lead. We break the rules and create new ones. We establish the new norm. It’s an endless cycle of going innovative and disruptive to create impact, engage publics and influence change.” I was inspired, excited and felt I might just be the rebel they are looking for. I responded to this ad of ComCo Southeast Asia, a boutique communications agency built through the coalition of premier brand architects and communication trailblazers in the region.
After the rigid interviews, tests and creative exercises, I was hired and appointed to become ComCo Southeast Asia’s Executive Projects Associate. I finally got what every fresh grad is aspiring for, an opportunity to be fully trained in the field and of course, a job!
The ComCo Squadron Decoded
At first, I had doubts of the PR I learned in school because the practice is largely not theoretical, not book-based. In PR, the actual practice is definitely the best teacher. Fortunately, I was assigned to be the assistant for ComCo Southeast Asia’s Regional Integration and Executive Director Mr. Ferdinand Bondoy. Coach as we call him in the office, became my immediate supervisor, and my mentor in the industry.
As a mission-driven company, ComCo Southeast Asia has established a new agency culture, which may be summarized as a culture of excellence in a nurturing environment. It is not just about work, it is about pursuing individual journeys together, in a holistic sense. We look at each other not just as a team but as a family. For one, our directors requested to remove the “Sir/Ma’am” when addressing them, because they don’t want the employees to see them as bosses but as leaders who work with us all throughout the process and guide us in what we do in our career. We also make sure that is not all about work and that there is play, that we enjoy each time we are together, we are fulfilled in what we do, that there is work-life integration. The management also believed in training homegrown talents to be the next leaders of the company, of the industry, which I find very unusual but admirable in a company.
As a field innovator, ComCo champions New PR and Smart Social. New PR is a strategy based, content driven and channel agnostic way of doing PR and Smart Social is a holistic approach in the maximization of digital and social channels. Coach taught us that PR is not just about publicity. He explains that New PR is borderless, strategic, creative and real. We use whatever channel is available and effective to reach out to our publics and create the impact and change we aspired for. He makes sure that we are constantly equipped to face the ever-changing communications landscape.
ComCo Mentorship Program or Camp ComCo is designed to discover and transform communication, marketing and multimedia students or fresh graduates into revolutionary professionals of the new disciplines of New PR and Smart Social. The three-month comprehensive industry linkage course and apprenticeship program seeks to awaken creative rebels and arm them with the skills they need to rise above the clutter and create groundbreaking and life-changing communication programs.
Presented in three phases, Skills Calibration, Strategic Communications Immersion and Specialization Elective, Camp ComCo curriculum is facilitated by ComCo Southeast Asia’s pool of marketing and communication experts and its network of industry practitioners in the region. Camp ComCo gives participants the opportunity to interact with experts in the field, work on actual communication projects and learn about the latest trends and innovations in the industry.
It has several lecture sessions and workshops such as Crisis Management, Sports Marketing, Digital Deep Dive, Influencer Marketing, Insights Mapping, Content Creation, Video Story Telling and a lot more. Participants of the Camp ComCo program are also given actual projects to work on and are engaged in doing on-the-job assignments.
For me, Camp ComCo is one of the best experiences here in ComCo Southeast Asia. I remembered the first session of Camp ComCo when I felt like I’m a student all over again. From the lecturer’s set-up plus the activities prepared by the mentors, it is really like my first year in a university but in a more student-friendly environment and in actual practice setting. Camp ComCo totally made me realize that what I learned in school is just the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot of things that should be learned and ComCo helps me learn it through the practice, training and coaching which will eventually pave the path for me to become an expert in the field.
I’m a lot better since I graduated because of my mentor, my Coach, who taught me the different dynamics in the field and who gave me his full trust in handling various high-profile accounts and projects. I’ve made it this far but it still a long way to go for me. ComCo, together with the people behind this company, continues to hone us to be the leaders of tomorrow so we can help in propagating a new industry culture. I hope that in a few years, I can be the man that Coach and the company envision me to be.