Go East Young Man (or Woman)

A couple of recent conversations make me believe that the PR industry in many European markets is a pretty comfortable place to be at the moment and that career complacency and conservatism is setting in. Maybe it is a function of my advancing years, but I am amazed that even ambitious young people in the business seem to be viewing their career in very narrow geographic and discipline ways. “I have this position now, and if I do this, I will get my bosses job (or equivalent) in x years and will then earn y”. If you are below the age of thirty (and even more so if you don’t have kids yet) take a bloody risk why don’t you? Go to Asia. Go to Moscow. Go to Dubai. You will learn as much about your culture by being out of it as you will other people’s and you will be SO much more marketable in the future if that’s what floats your boat. And for the bigger agencies and more interesting in-house roles of the future, international experience is going to mean more than basic proficiency in one other language and the claim “I coordinated PR in seven countries for xyz brand”. If you did that from home, if you have never lived and/or worked abroad for a long spell (I would say a minimum of a year, but preferably three) you are not globally minded. You might be a good global faker, but soon, faking it will not be enough. Oh, and the Brits and the Americans are by far the worst on this count.

[tags] PR [/tags]

David Brain

13 Comments

  1. I worked six months in Faliraki and six month in Ayia Napa but I don’t think that really counts. :-)

    Sound advice though and I agree 100%, travelling (even in general) certainly broadens the mind. I think today’s generation have more choices than any other generation before them (us) but at the same time they’re obsessed with a certain lifestyle (myself included) of home ownership, a nice car and spare cash to spend on luxury items. All at a relatively young age.

    And ometimes there are **too** many options, you’re spoilt for choice which puzzles you as to which path to actually take.

    I think it will be easier to do it in your 20s but don’t think if you’re in your 30s you can’t. After all, 30 is the new 20 apparently.

  2. I’m just back from three years volunteers work in developing countries. The first two and a half years being in Hanoi, Vietnam. (www.ourmaninhanoi.com)

    My work was through VSO (www.vso.org.uk) and it was a proper PR post for an amazing organisation called KOTO. (www.koto.com.au).

    Anyway, during my time I dealt with BBC World, CNN, ABC, New York Times, the Herald Tribunal and even co-ordinated a visit from the US First Lady… not to mention event management that included three 100 person cycle rides and one mad fundraising cyclo ride from Hanoi to Saigon.

    Anyway, I learnt more about PR than I ever could have done back in my native North East where I had been working within the industry, and before that in journalism, for a dozen years.

    My point is this though, I returned for an interview which I honestly thought I was overqualified for. Essentially it was a straight forward press officer job for a local development organisation.

    I didn’t get it – they viewed me as a risk. A free spirit they called me. Oh and they pointed out that my extensive media dealings didn’t count for much as I didn’t know the business editor of the local paper.

    Just a cautionary tale.

    Oh and does anyone want a PR manager/copywriter?

  3. Our Man,

    A good cautionary tale indeed. Re-entry is sometimes difficult, but I suspect that the climate of opinion will change and improve on this point.

  4. I hope so. And if I am unemployed for the next year I still won’t regret the time out.

    Maybe an interesting piece for a future post – there are good works that PRs can do overseas.

    If you have ever thought of doing volunteer work but thought that was just for teachers and doctors – well it isn’t.

    VSO has plenty of posts for PRs, fundraisers and marketeers in general. The idea being that your help is sustainable and you teach a local person to take over your role when you leave.

  5. Agreed, agreed. I worked for five months in London, in a different career, with students from 20 different countries. (I mananaged an international student residence on the Kings Road.) I also spent a semester in Argentina… While I haven’t been able to spend a year or three on location, these experiences mixed with some time in Japan & Israel shaped the worker I am today. I hope I have a decent global perspective and can’t imagine who I’d be without the trips.

  6. Completely agreed. True knowledge and experiences in other cultures is vital. I hope I am afforded the opportunity to explore many new areas of the world. I am glad Leah saw your post. She has been talking about this a lot lately.

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