As Boston University students, we are extremely lucky to have the opportunity to study abroad. From my experiences in London the past few months, I have learned how experiencing another culture is a valuable experience. As part of the London PR Internship Program, I have been fortunate to live in beautiful South Kensington and delve deeper into the PR field through classes and my internship with Sound Advice Group, which has been nothing short of fascinating.
Sound Advice Group works throughout the music business covering live events for the rich and famous, managing Irish pop-star Imelda May, and producing Cornbury Music Festival (which this year includes the likes of Kacey Musgraves and even Sporty Spice)!
With London’s many similarities to metropolitan America, I have found most PR principles to be easily applicable to British practice. Writing press releases, handling social media, working with advertisers, and networking all apply to PR in London, with a little twist. Although it is similar, there are still some key differences and selling points that make studying abroad worthwhile.
You become familiar with the work culture overseas. Since many PR agencies have overseas offices, often in London, it is vital to understand the nuances of British corporate culture to build effective communication. For example, it is not unheard of to hear office banter, gossip and jokes. Hierarchy is also not as strong in UK offices as it is in the US. Also, London is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world with nearly 30% of the population coming from outside the UK. There is no better way to genuinely understand other cultures than to live among them and see their way of life.
PR is much more business-oriented. In England, instead of PR being separated in communication schools, like BU’s structure, it is often taught in business schools as part of marketing. In fact, I learned about the foundations of Integrated Marketing Communications and PR’s purpose in the model from my PR core class professor whose background is solely in business and marketing.
International connections. PR is all about networking and building connections. You never know whom you may meet in London through your internship. Even though they may be living overseas, you can build off connections they have in the US or who knows, you may even decide to return to the UK for work one day. Do not close any doors; you never know when it could help you out!
A unique internship experience. Because BU’s internship program gives you a placement, they may offer you a company or agency that you may not have known about or considered before. Many people on the program, as well as myself, were placed at agencies that are not household names, but this does not mean that they are not unique hands-on learning opportunities. In my office I sit alongside my supervisor, the CEO, and I am always included in office discussions and decisions. Internship experience at smaller, lesser-known agencies can be beneficial to your growth as an aspiring PR professional since you are usually given more responsibilities. Also, what’s more unique than actually joining the London morning work commuters!