Experiencing PR Abroad

By: Andrea Mellendorf

Photo provided by: Andrea Mellendorf

Photo provided by: Andrea Mellendorf

Not even a week ago I arrived home from London. I just spent four weeks traveling Europe, living in London and studying public relations at Regent’s University. Throughout my program, my classmates and I had the opportunity to visit various public relations agencies and corporations around London that worked on a global scale. It would be impossible to write about every little thing I did or everything that I learned in just one blog post, so I’ll hit some of the highlights. Here are a few very valuable public relations lessons that I learned while abroad:

1. Think big, be curious, and take risks.

One of my favorite site visits that I participated in was to a public relations agency, Freud Communication. This group had the honor and privilege of heading up the public relations efforts for the London 2012 Olympics, as well as other big ticket clients such as Pepsi, Nike and Lexus. All of the campaigns that the speakers from this organization shared with us were big ideas that spanned far beyond just a celebrity endorsement or basic press release. At the end of the visit, when asked what they looked for in one of their employees, our speaker told us that they look for people who are always curious and looking to learn, and aren’t afraid to pitch a bold idea, take a risk, or fail a few times. After seeing the success of this agency firsthand, I took this advice to heart.

2. Never stop learning.

We had the opportunity to visit a London office of Ketchum PR, and they shared with us a little about their global scholars program. This program allows for Ketchum employees to travel to a new country (they had a global scholar in China at the time of our visit) and live and learn in that city while working with the Ketchum office in their area. This experience allows Ketchum employees to keep learning about their craft, but also about other cultures from around the world. The fact that such a big company went out of their way to do this for their employees served as a nice reminder to me that learning does not, and should not, stop after college graduation.

3. Know your audience.

Okay, this one probably seems like a lesson that I would have learned before I studied abroad, and I did, but it was definitely reinforced seeing these public relations agencies and other site visits up close and personal. At each site visit we did, the speaker talked about a different audience that they targeted. IBM targets business professionals, Freud’s team targeted millennials and global consumers and our speaker from Ketchum worked in the beauty department, so she worked to target adult female consumers. One of our visits was to the Regent’s Open Air Theatre, and our speaker made a point to say that although the open air style theatre is appealing to tourists, they do not target their PR efforts at tourists because if the weather was bad on the night that a tourist had a ticket, and their show at the open air theatre ended up getting canceled, wasting one of their few nights in London, that would cause an even bigger PR issue for the theatre. It was interesting hearing firsthand how each organization worked to reach its respective audience.

My experiences abroad will be with me forever, especially in my future career as a public relations practitioner. I look forward to continuing to share my experiences with other PR-loving individuals, so watch for more posts about my international PR studies here and on my personal blog!

Andrea Mellendorf is a junior at Eastern Michigan University and serves as the Vice President of Special Events and Programs for EMU PRSSA.


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