by Anna Lemmon
During the PRSSA 2014 National Conference, I attended a session called "Around the World and Back: International PR," a panel discussion led by John Trybus from the British Embassy. The panel featured Liselle Yorke from the Grameen Foundation, Amber Kahn from Women for Women International and Laura Rusu from Oxfam America. During the panel discussion, John asked the women many different questions, but here I will share a few of my favorite topics and responses.
One of the first questions John asked was “What international issue is most pressing right now?” The responses given showed a lot about each woman and her beliefs, which was a great way to start off the session.
Amber said she believes the consequences of a crisis, whether it is Ebola or the rise of a conflict at the hands of a group like ISIS, are often the biggest for communities who are least equipped and able to handle these crises.
Laura believes that inequality – from income to race, age and gender – is a very challenging situation. She said, “The poorest people are on the front lines of these issues,” though it is typically the higher classes who are at fault.
Liselle said lack of access and information to healthcare was the most pressing issue. She said it affects so many other things in our society by a domino effect – communities can’t go to work and produce income, which creates an income gap and then affects regions on larger scales.
The panel had great PR career advice. Amber emphasized you must be trustworthy and have a credible fountain of knowledge. Laura said you must be able to quickly boil down complicated topics. Liselle said to be a storyteller and be able to cater to different audiences.
Next the women gave advice for international PR. While all women agreed students should study abroad, Liselle recognized that it’s not in everyone’s budget. She suggested you can still be culturally competent by listening and being aware. Whether domestic or abroad, you need to write well and clearly, be able to translate what you see into a story that your audience can understand and definitely be flexible in time zones. Laura said you need to have a hunger for knowledge and try to travel as much as possible and get as many internships as you can.
Amber made some final great points about international PR. She said while we are comfortable in our spheres of community, there are many different cultures and traditions just within our own country. It is important to see what others bring to the table. There are businesses and markets trying to open up around the world, and building global connectivity brings opportunities to apply your skills.