Q. I came across your blog and was very pleased by the straight-forward way that you talk about PR. I am a PR Senior Account Executive working for over a year in Portugal, and currently looking for a job in London. I have been working with some very interesting and challenging accounts, but I am very interested in learning more and be part of a greater market. Do you think British PR firms are that open to foreign CV applications?
A. My initial hunch was “yes,” but I decided to check with a couple of UK colleagues, including David Gallagher, who heads Ketchum’s operations in that part of the world. He notes that the short answer is “yes”, but the real answer is more complicated. Here’s how David responds to your question:
EU nationals can work anywhere in the zone, just as Americans and Canadians move freely from state to state or province to province. Thus, most UK agencies have a smattering of nationals from the continent. We took dual nationality for this reason – so our children can work anywhere in Europe.
The UK also offers access to nationals from some Commonwealth countries who can prove British ancestry within a generation or two. Everyone else needs a work permit, usually based on ‘highly skilled professional’ status. Even so, lots of Americans (and Canadians) are floating around UK agencies. I think the agency (many prefer ‘consultancy’ here) PR business is largely Anglo-Saxon in origin – same principles of open markets, free speech, commercial media etc – so the North American and UK agency industry is older, more closely linked by ownership and language than others.
There are of course many great agencies emerging all over the world, and at Ketchum London we’re particularly interested in skilled professionals with Mandarin, Russian or Arabic capabilities.