January last year I migrated from Indonesia, a country that’s culturally and socially different from Canada. Many adjustments had to be made. Weather-wise for example, this is my first time wearing heavy clothes for six months a year. In my home country, it was always humid and hot, around 36 degrees all year long.
Before coming to this country, I read somewhere that Canada is the land of unemployed skilled immigrants. It’s hard for many immigrants to get a job, let alone a job in their fields. That’s why I felt so lucky when BlueSky Communications hired me as one of its PR executives last summer, after two months of job hunting across Ontario and Quebec. Before leaving Indonesia, I worked in media and public relations for around eight years.
Despite my familiarity of the industry, adjustments still had to be made to acquaint myself with the job. Below are some differences I found between working as a PR practitioner in Indonesia and in Canada:
When a big news story happens in Indonesia, jobs became way harder. No one would care about Nike’s neon collection after the Attorney General was murdered. I’m not saying being a PR practitioner in Canada is easier, but at least we’re lucky enough not to compete with that kind of devastating news on a weekly basis.
I used to work as a journalist myself, back in 2009-2012. I received parcels and gifts from many PR firms, companies and brands. They usually sent me their products, shopping vouchers and even discounts to use their service. As this has become a common practice, no one would consider this as a bribery.
In Canada, it’s the complete opposite. I’ve been working with many journalists to get client stories published, but I’ve never met any of them. I only know what they look like through their LinkedIn profiles. Here, it’s all about story angles. If we pitch interesting story angles to the right journalists, the chance to get it picked up is pretty likely whether or not we know the journalists personally.
The journalists are also pretty close with one another. If they write for the same beat, they usually have a WhatsApp group to share news with each other. When a PR firm sends an event invitation, it’s pretty common to ask the journalist to forward it to their fellow journalist friends.
When doing my first story pitch in Canada, I asked my colleague, “Should I do this by phone or email?” And she answered, “Always email.” I only made phone calls on anything urgent, and I like it better this way.
Overall, the differences of working in both countries are quite noticeable. They come with their own challenges, and I’ve been enjoying these changes. I’m looking forward to learning more and making myself a better PR practitioner in Canada.