Garena PR Siwei Tan on finding ‘non-aggressive’ journalists to interview ‘media shy’ CEO

The head of public relations for Singaporean gaming platform Garena has spoken publicly of her efforts to find “friendly” and “non-provocative” journalists to interview the company’s chief executive.

Siwei Tan, who holds the title of senior manager of corporate affairs, described Garena’s founder and CEO, Forrest Li, as “media shy” and only willing to carry out one press interview a year.


Speaking candidly on the Start-Up stage at the Tech in Asia conference in Singapore this week, Tan described the lengthy process of vetting journalists before putting them in front of Li.

She said: “Forrest Li is very soft-spoken and very reserved. He is typically very media shy and does not like to be in the limelight. Many in our organisation are introverts so we do not usually like speaking to a big audience.

“He typically does one media interview a year. That’s what we recommend to him. So in 2015, he did an interview with Forbes and in 2016, one with Bloomberg. It was a lot of work. We had to find a journalist from one key publication; one who is approachable and friendly and doesn’t ask questions that are too aggressive and not too provocative.

“And we will ask that journalist over to our office so they can understand our culture and management, so they can get a feel of what our company is like.”

Garena founder Forrest Li

“So they have all the facts required for the interview. That’s when you send [Forrest] into the battlefield; when you have prepared the journalist and set the stage so they will approach [the interview] with the right tone. Not too aggressive,” she continued.

Founded as an online gaming company, Garena in 2009, the Singaporean company has diversified into digital content, social, payments, and ecommerce.

At a US$3.75 billion valuation, Garena remains South East Asia’s most valuable start-up and was recently reported to be changing its name to ‘Sea’ following a major round of funding.

Tan added: “PR is about understanding the management’s preferences and tailoring it to suit their needs and comfort.”


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