I had made it two months in Ecuador, but my hot streak was broken. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep up my perfect bill of health and succumbed to a small cold. Some would say I was due; it’s quite common for people that move here to get sick in some fashion. However, I could feel the sore throat creeping up by late last week. By the time Friday rolled around I knew this weekend would definitely not be filled with travels and long hikes, but orange juice and long naps instead.
Loyal readers, you may have noticed that the website looks different. That’s because my only productive activity over the weekend was creating the new site. With “Vida La Vic” and other ideas, we wanted the site to feature more than the podcast. Don’t fret, “Vic and Stu on the Tues” podcast fans — good news is on the way. But first, but back to Ecuador.
Since a story about me sneezing isn’t that exciting to most people, I wanted to write about something different than the typical tales from the past week. A couple of MSL coworkers suggested that I write about adapting to work in a new country. While I touched on this briefly in the first blog, I wanted to go more into detail about the work I am doing here and discuss how PR has been in a new country.
After a little over two years with MSL, an opportunity came up for an employee in the Boston office to work in an office in Quito, Ecuador for six months. MSL partners with a local agency, Comunicandes, in Quito to help several of its clients reach the Latin American markets. With several clients based in the U.S., Comunicandes would benefit from the perspective of an American worker. As soon as the opportunity arose, I volunteered for it.
The position splits my time between MSL Boston and Comunicandes. On the MSL side, I do have to say it is quite different not being in the office every day. I definitely miss being around several of my coworkers (special shoutout to The Row). Although, I do also have to thank my managers and coworkers for their flexibility when I got here.
I knew I was going to be tested in my new role at work. Instead of working as an Account Executive, I was taking on the position and responsibilities of an Account Director. While it has been challenging to make that jump, it’s been an amazing opportunity to gain experience managing accounts, engaging clients, creating content, and leading teams. In my time here, I’ve had the opportunity to work on some really interesting projects. Some projects include working on content for UPS around the current state of Colombia, brainstorming how to reach target markets in Ecuador for a new business pitching and learning strategy to reach the different countries of Latin America. A large part of working here has been learning the cultural differences between each of the countries here, and what goes into creating the tailored message when it comes to communications and outreach.
Along with the projects, my time here has been dedicated to two accounts. One is with a U.S. based client reaching Latin American countries, and one is an Ecuadorian client reaching the U.S. The first is a printer company named Brother, where among other things I am managing the content pipeline to ensure they are drafted, approved, pitched and so on. While I am not pitching reporters here (my Spanish has gotten better, but not that good), this client has given me the chance to see how media works here. There are significantly less PR agents in Ecuador than the US. , making journalists more open to receiving pitches instead of being bombarded by them all day. Working on this account has also put my Spanish to the test. In my first couple of months, a co-worker of mine spoke English. However, she recently left and now the training wheels are off! The account staff here talks Spanish (thankfully they are also very patient) and it’s been a great way for me to practice.
The Ecuadorian-based client is Sense Ecuador, a new shopping site that offers local artisanal Ecuadorian products to the U.S. with no shipping costs. (Let me know if you would like a promo code). With the MSL Boston focus in Tech/Healthcare, it has been fun to work on a different type of business. I’ve been working on all aspects of a PR team ranging from leading in-person strategy meeting to pitching to anything else that could pop up. Since the product is all about Ecuadorian goods, it had helped me gain a better understanding of Ecuador’s products. Two that stand out are the roses and chocolate. Considering the size of the country, it’s impressive to note that Ecuador is the world’s thirds largest exporter of flowers. There are myths surrounding Ecuador’s roses: some believe its location on the equator makes roses grow perfectly straight. While it’s more likely that the yearly natural light gives gardeners more time to grow, I like the equator theory. As for chocolate, many consider it to be the best in the world. Barely 5% of cacao produced in the world is given the prestigious label of Fine Aroma and Ecuador produces nearly 63% of Fine Aroma flavored cacao worldwide. (Is part of this from a pitch? Who’s to know?) I’m also a customer of theirs, and can vouch that they are easy to use. Lindsay received a beautiful batch of preserved Ecuadorian roses last week.
If you take out the “Ecuador” part of the equation, which is admittedly tricky to do, it’s been great getting the feel of both large and small offices. Within the small office, I’ve had to chance to take on several different roles depending on what is needed. On the other hand, being a part of large offices offers an array of resources to tap into. These range from the research programs available to the network with different specialties. While balancing the two jobs requires me to stay extra organized, having the advantages of both has been great. I do have to say, one clear advantage of a large company is the possibility that they will send you to Quito for six months. #VidaLaVic