Ever dreamed of taking your PR career overseas? As the world starts to reopen, there’s never been a better time to shake things up with an exciting overseas PR adventure. And if Australia or England are on your hit-list, this will give you insight into some of the opportunities (and challenges) in front of you.
Ishtar Schneider (US) and Laura Craggs (UK), are both associate directors at Edelman in London. They know a thing or two about the highs and lows of expat life in Australia and the UK and have shared their top tips for making the transition as seamless as possible, landing the right PR job, navigating visas, understanding the cost of living plus, how to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
If you're serious about making the move, check out the podcast episode dedicated to this topic on on The PR Pod. You'll find a link at the bottom of this blog or just search "The PR Pod" on Apple, Spotify or your fave podcast platform.
Do Your Research (Then Do Some More!)
When it comes to moving overseas, failing to plan is planning to fail. The more local intel you have before you ship out, the easier your transition will be. Your hit list should include:
Any and all potential PR agencies you’d be happy to work for, including their sector, specialisation, clientele, and whether or not they offer visa sponsorships.
The parts of town you can realistically afford to live in, without slumming it
What you’ll need to get established: bank accounts, social security numbers, etc.
Every professional contact you can wrangle ahead of time.
Engage with local recruiters in advance of arriving. Some may be happy to chat with you months prior to arrival and others may prefer you touch base a few weeks out. You'll find some recruiters will be super helpful and give you loads of valuable professional and personal advice to help with the transition while others may be a little prickly, so make sure you approach a few.
If you have a clear date of when you'd like to start working, you may be able to set up interviews in your home country before you leave. The dream scenario is you secure a role before you leave your own country but this can be challenging to achieve so don't set you heart on this. If you do lock down that role before you arrive, take the time to research your clients/company so you hit the ground running.
Government websites are also a great place to kick off your research when it comes to visas, working guidelines plus the local requirements for setting yourself up for tax, superannuation and healthcare.
Know Your Worth, and What You Can Bring to the Local Market
PR salaries in the UK and Australia are pretty comparable. That said, it’s essential to have a good idea about what you can bring to market before you spread your wings and fly out the door.
If you have valuable skills to contribute (some of them may be transferable from a different industry), be sure to frame those accordingly. As much as moving abroad is about enriching your life experiences, it should also be enriching your career, too.
This is where having some extra savings in the bank can help. You don’t want to be taking on a role you’re overqualified for, and will certainly be paid less for, because you didn’t have financial breathing room to consider all your options.
It’s not unheard of for employers to low-ball desperate applicants on salary – especially where visa sponsorship is concerned. You might even hear recruiters or companies say they won’t hire someone without experience working within that city or country. That won’t be the case with every company so don’t get disheartened.
Many companies want to hire the best person for the job and your skills gained from working in your home country could give them some broader insight or an additional collection of experiences that would benefit their company – so frame this as a positive.
If you don’t have much experience, look at doing some internships in the city you’re moving to. It will show you’re truly motivated to really sink yourself into the local media landscape. Plus, we all know internships are a fantastic pathway to securing a fulltime, paid role.
Getting Your Visa Sponsored
If your heart’s set on living and working in another country for an extended period, you need sponsorship from an employer.
With a bit of research, it’s possible to find out ahead of time which companies are in the business of employing – and sponsoring – people from overseas. But it’s important to keep in mind that most companies have government-mandated salary parameters within which they can grant sponsorship. Those people who have more experience are generally looked upon more favourably for sponsorship, as you are bringing more value and experience into the company (and country).
If you don't have much experience but are still determined to work overseas, consider doing an internship. Sure, it may be unpaid but it might give you the foot -in-the-door you need to propel you into a paid position. If this is the best path for you, make sure you have plenty of savings to keep you going during this time.
Building Media Contacts Once You’re on the Ground
The communications landscape between Australia and the UK are comparable, though significantly more fast-paced in the northern hemisphere. Regardless, the same rules apply when it comes to building a network of contacts:
When first contacting a journalist, make sure you have something newsworthy to discuss with them. Media often don't mind who is pitching to them, as long as the pitch is good and relevant to their content needs.
Be honest - you never know where it may take you. Share that you've recently arrived in that city from your home country, have just started working with a particular client/s, wanted to introduce yourself plus pitch in a story angle. It may be that the journalist has also recently arrived and you have that in common, or maybe they travelled to your home country last year and are keen to chat to you about their experiences. Either way, keep it succinct but sometimes sharing that little morsel of information about yourself can go a long way.
Always be “in credit” with journalists – positive feedback where it’s due, a tip-off on something juicy, or just anything that makes the professional relationship a two-way street.
Go to as many industry networking events as possible - you may meet some journalists who you can begin to develop a working relationship with, or some potential employers.
Moving Overseas: The Essentials
Bring more money than you think you need
Moving overseas is a mission. There’s a million things to think about, and the last one you need is to worry about whether or not you can afford three square meals a day.
Expect the unexpected, no matter how much research and preparation you’ve done beforehand. It would be a shame to get stranded due to a lack of financial security.
Say Yes to Everything
This is it, your big adventure! Do as much as you can while you’re abroad, professionally and culturally.
Join a social soccer club or an expat group and take up that opportunity to go away for the weekend with a new bunch of friends. You never know who you will meet or what connections will flourish from these situations.
Announce your intention
Once you've resigned from your job, tell the world your plans. By announcing on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram you are moving to a particular country, you might find that friends or former work colleagues step forward to let you know they know someone who you should connect with, professionally or personally.
Don't underestimate the power of friends-of-friends. You might get a potential employment lead out of it or be able to step into an amazing social circle of likeminded people in a similar position.
Tips for London
Prepare for the Pace
Australia’s media sector can feel like a bit of a bubble, sometimes. The UK sector on the other hand, tends to encompass all of Europe so there’s more action, way more media outlets and the pace is much faster. Be prepared to have your work cut out for you!
Getting a bank account set up in London is notoriously difficult. In the meantime, services like Monzo will allow you to get around with your Aussie accounts wherever Mastercard is accepted.
The Conversion Rate Sucks (But don’t let it get to you)
The worst thing you can do as an Aussie living in London is to compare the cost of everything. While there’s no getting around the fact that a coffee will be twice the price when you’re starting out, your living expenses will soon balance out once you begin earning in pounds.
Try and not convert and just accept things will be more stable once you secure a job.
Tips for Australia
In case you had forgotten, Australia is an island so the produce grown is super seasonal and not much comes from overseas. If you are looking to buy an avocado at the wrong time of year, you will be paying the price. Keep your grocery bill down by shopping for the fruit and vegetables in season.
Get Your Head Around Broadcast Media
In some countries, it might not be a core part of your PR role to pitch for radio and television coverage opportunities. In Australia, it is. If that's new to you, chat to your new work colleagues about the dos and don'ts of working with broadcast media.
After More Tips??
I've only squeezed in a handful of juicy tips above so if you're after even more insight about taking your PR career to England or Australia, you can listen to the full podcast episode on The PR Pod here. You'll also find this episode on your fave podcast player, just search "The PR Pod".
Please share, rate and follow the podcast so others can find it too!
If you love soaking in insight and information, take a listen to some of our other episodes here.
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