By Jenna Mosely
They say that in order to be a good PR professional, you have to be able to wear many hats. In the agency world, this means being able to switch between various clients seamlessly. For me however, my hats often come in the form of different countries and subsequently different cultures.
On any given day, my to-do list may look something like this:
- Draft a press release on the legal ruling in the Kenya
- Compile a media list for the report release in Colombia
- Build media packets for journalists attending a conference in India
I serve as the International Communications Associate for a global public health nonprofit here in D.C. I perform both traditional and political communication in the global arena together with my team and partner groups around the world. Specifically, we design policy campaigns that advocate for stronger public health policies, especially in low- and middle-income countries.
Each policy battle and each country you work in brings its own set of unique challenges that make designing campaigns interesting and sometimes difficult. When you’re mapping out your campaign you have to consider the political, economic, and social factors that are often very different from what you’re used to in the U.S. In addition, you have to work with a media landscape that you may not be too familiar with. In some cases you’re working with different media platforms that we don’t use in the United States (things like Weibo in China or Path in Indonesia.) Not to mention you’re often working with another language!
International public relations is not a bachelor’s degree offered at American, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait until graduation to get started. If it’s a field you’re interested in, there are many ways to get your foot in the door. Customize your college experience to show your interest in the topic and you’ll be much more appealing to potential employers later. Take advantage of the School of International Service and the classes it offers in cross-cultural communications. Intern or volunteer at one of the many international organizations here in D.C. And if you can, get international experience. My boss told me that having internship experience overseas during my study abroad was a big reason my resume rose to the top of the pile. Finally, when you do start looking for jobs, look for ones with opportunities to expand that international knowledge. Last month, I returned from my first business trip to New Delhi, India. Being able to show that I can represent my organization, especially on a global scale, is invaluable experience that will serve me well no matter where I go from here.
Working in international public relations can be quite challenging, but it’s exhilarating! It keeps every day just as unique and exciting as the next because each day is a different challenge, a different policy fight, and a different country. And while I don’t know everything about designing top-notch policy campaigns around the globe quite yet, I’m working alongside people who do. I learn from them every day. And if there’s one thing that’s important for your first job, it’s that you’re constantly learning.