Melissa Lemberg is a newly-hired senior consultant in our Vancouver office. In her first blog post, Melissa shares her experience moving from the east coast of Brisbane, Australia to the west coast of Canada – adjusting to a new and exciting media landscape (and climate).
Yes, yes. Another Australian has made the 20+ hour flight from Australia to Canada. Yes, the snow-capped mountains and promise of crisp air lured me in. Yes, I had to be close to snowboarding and mountain biking meccas like Whistler, Squamish and the North Shore.
But no, I do not want to be recognised as “another Australian” in Canada.
Sure, I see living in Vancouver as a great opportunity to explore “Beautiful BC” as you so adequately – and proudly – promote on your licence plates and be part of amazing experiences, but that’s not all this move is about. Nor is it about spending my time hanging out with a bunch of other fellow expats that work the chair lift by day and drink copious amounts of cheap beer at night. I could get that at home (minus the chair lift).
After almost four years with a fabulous company back home, I felt I needed a challenge and an escape. The challenge – cracking into a new media market and seeing how our friends overseas “do PR”. The escape – did I mention I flew 20+ hours to get here?
The relationships with media will take time, but the transition from Australian media landscape to Canadian media landscape has been much faster – and dare I say, easier – than I’d anticipated.
It helps that Australia and Canada’s media players are in similar positions – declining revenue and online competition leading to massive job cuts (see CBC’s announcement earlier this week and this announcement by Fairfax in Australia two years ago) are common tales. It’s become a dog-eat-dog world that has filtered through to the PR profession itself on a global scale.
You can no longer rely on your journalist friends to run your slightly soft, good news stories. They either don’t have the space or the time for it.
So our job becomes less about the “hard sell” and more about negotiating. How can we pitch in a way that gives the story an edge? How can we package this up in a way that will make the journalist’s life easier? How do we manage the expectations of our clients when the space isn’t there to fill? Is there another approach we can take that will deliver on the client’s objective?
It’s this last question that has some companies perplexed. The world of traditional media is a safe, well-trodden path for many, but more and more are dipping their toes into the world of digital media and doing it well (see the Huffington Post’s picks for the Top Social Media Campaigns of 2014 So Far). And this is what excites me about working in Canada and for H+K.
Being able to ask the big digital questions of some of Canada’s leading brands is how this Australian wants to be recognised. Because the art of negotiating and PR skills are universal – it’s what other doors these skills can open that is exciting.