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PRNewser Q&A: Three Tips for Making the Move to China

China is just one of the Asian countries that PR firms continue to build their businesses in.

One of the perks of a PR job is the chance to travel far and wide. And, there are likely many publicists out there considering a move abroad, whether temporary or permanent.

PR firms are focused on building their businesses in Asia, opening up opportunities not just with new clients, but for firm staffers. But making that move is a huge decision.

After the jump, we have a Q&A with Sara Donaldson, Edelman‘s manager of comms and business development in Asia Pacific. She’s been in Beijing for about two years and talks about making the transition, the differences in the work, and how government control of the media affects her work.

Click through for more.

PRNewser: From a professional perspective, what was the biggest adjustment to doing PR from Edelman Asia Pacific?

Sara Donaldson: I had a similar position at another firm based in New York for seven years before joining Edelman, so the scope of the job was the only thing not completely foreign to me when making the move to Beijing two years ago. Edelman has 20 offices in 10 markets in Asia Pacific, so it took some time to become knowledgeable enough about the diversity within the region to work effectively across all those markets.

For example, there are 4,000 miles between Tokyo and Mumbai and probably an equal number of cultural, political, and practical differences that affect the way PR is done in those two places.  Then there’s China, Australia, Korea, and Southeast Asia, places where the differences far outweigh the similarities. This diversity is challenging, but invigorating also. It’s changed me as a person and a PR professional in a very good way.

At the same time, Edelman is such a sophisticated company… so as a marketing person there is an incredible amount of compelling content to work with. That makes my job easier!

PRN: We’ve talked about the government limitations placed on the Internet. How does that impact the types of campaigns and programs you work on?

SD: The Chinese government’s control of the online media can be incredibly frustrating. But it essentially doesn’t impact the type of work I do, except that, even with a virtual private network, it can be difficult to access news sites based out of the mainland, and latency issues make downloading content a pain.

With most news organizations government-controlled in China and other parts of the region, media relations can take on an entirely different definition.

PRN: What are some of the new requests and tasks that you’ve been called upon to do now that you’re in China?

While the PR industry isn’t necessarily young in emerging markets, it may not deliver campaigns as sophisticated as those coming out of the U.S and Europe. Sharing knowledge and best practices from my experience and from within the global Edelman network has become a strong focus.

I’m fortunate to be able to touch a variety of initiatives in my role here, so I’m often the regional representative for global programs like citizenship, new business, and an array of marketing priorities. I’ve learned a lot with my many new hats!

PRN: What would be your top three pieces of advice to a PR pro moving to the region?

SD: 1. Embrace the complexity. Anyone moving to a new market will encounter a great deal of change, and the adjustment may be challenging at first. Once you’re able to navigate the complexity though, you’ll discover that your “new normal” is remarkably rewarding and exciting.

2. Engage with your new stakeholders. Quickly form relationships with local media, prove your worth to your new colleagues/clients, and sign up for industry events to establish your professional network.

3. Take advantage of the opportunity. It’s very special to have the chance to work and travel in a new part of the world, so make the most of every day. With an open mind and a little patience, you’ll learn an enormous amount about yourself, the industry and the world we live in, which will make you a better PR counselor.

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