Today Career Hack is thrilled to present Lea Lee, my former Bikram Yoga instructor in Seoul and Global Corporate PR professional in Korea. We’ll grill her about various facets of her life in public relations in Asia and see if she can’t give us some insights on our own extraordinary emerging market careers.
1. What makes Global Corporate PR unique in Korea?
Korea is on its way to being a developed market, it’s surely an emerging market, but at the same time, it’s arguably more mature than any other growing countries.
The crisis in 1997 was immensely traumatic for Koreans, but it also taught them valuable lessons.
Since then, Globalization is the word for Koreans and Koreans have trained themselves to get ready for the global market, in some ways, very obsessively.
However, still, there are some prejudices, mistakes, or lapses Koreans should have debunked despite the past 15 years of effort.
Working in Global PR in Korea means I face myriad obstacles every day. For example, the global media has seriously criticized Korean educational systems, but, at the same time, they’ve been attracted to the ways Korean companies like Hyundai or LG come to the front in various industries. Recently, their new key-word is “K-Pop”, which is also produced by Korean style Sparta entertainment companies. The world criticizes Koreans’ headlong rush into any markets, but easily gets attracted to what their efforts result in.
I witness these ironies of Korea every day and how Koreans evolve each and every day throughout the obstacles. It fascinates me.
2. What are the most rewarding aspects of your career as a corporate PR manager? It seems very vague or too wide to define with words.
Yes, for some people it sounds very vague and not easy to define.
Corporate PR is more about building the value of the brand throughout reading the concepts of people while Marketing PR is more about growing consumers’ interest.
Of course, we arouse consumers’ interest, but also, build a sound foundation for the brand value with continuous and long-term perspectives.
We focus more on the brand value, reputation, and presence of companies, which paves the road to a better mutual understanding between companies and consumers.
Then, eventually, when Marketing PR talks about the company’s new products, consumers will perceive the stories to be reliable because we’ve crafted a credible, compelling, and fascinating public image for the company. As a corporate PR professional, I feel rewarded when we can build trusting and sustainable relationships with our consumers.
3. Do you feel like your industry will be a high growth field for the future? What makes you feel that way?
Yes, I do. The world is getting even more open. We say we’re living in an open society, but there will be even more openness. In an open society, a company’s creditability, reputation, and integrity in the market will be priceless and intangible assets for global companies. In this aspect, Corporate PR is set to increasingly be one of the most important strategic functions for global companies in the future.
4. What are some of the more interesting and high-impact projects you’ve worked on?
Well, last September, my first client ever invited local media from the Middle East to Korea.
I spent a week with 24 of these Middle Eastern journalists. It was, personally, a culture shock that I’d never previously experienced.
However, at the end of the media tour, we became good friends with each other and have connected on Facebook. They didn’t have any specific ideas for Korea or my client, but it did ultimately produce a potent experience for them. They were, in a sense, at the other edge of the universe. At the end of the tour, I was able to deliver compelling and positive ideas and profiles of Korea and my client.
The saying “We’re the world.” Is a cliché, but true,! It doesn’t matter where we’re from and what language we speak.
We communicate with our hearts and PR starts when we speak the truth about who we are.
I physically experienced it and it changed my attitude to my work. I always take any challenges at work – whatever they may be. It makes me learn and progress everyday.
5. Can you tell us a little bit about the culture at LG-One and what a typical day is like for you?
LG-One is the global PR joint organizations of Hill & Knowlton Strategies and Ogilvy PR in 32 countries built up for the sole client, LG Electronics.
The culture of LG-One HQ in Seoul is defined as “Autonomy”. We work hard and toil to release and maximize our creativity. We also respect each other and our personal lives at the same time.
Consequently, I feel like I work hard, but in very efficient ways. I start my day around 9am reading clippings on my client, remark on articles if needed, and answer emails.
I frequently have lunch meetings with journalists and my client, have weekly meetings, internal staff meetings, and work on monthly PR plans. It differs every day, but mostly my day is about reading, strategizing, and supporting my client’s media related issues.
6. What kind of advice would you give to other people who are looking seize opportunities in Global PR and media field in Korea?
Well, in my case, I’ve been always interested in reading people’s thoughts. I majored in literatures, and ‘People and Communication with them’ are topics of passion in my life.
I’d like to advise them to learn more about people or culture first before they just jump into media and media relation tactics. That’s because the topics media are interested in are also about people, their thoughts and their behaviors in this world. So, once you understand people and approach to them, you will learn the professional skills even more effectively, and then your creativity as a PR person can blossom.
7. Where do you want to go with the emerging market path you’ve created? Or are you going to just sort of see where it takes you?
Well, before I joined to this team, I was an yoga instructor about for 4 years. I taught yoga and traveled here and there. In those days, I learned that the universe has greater plans than I can do for myself. I know it sounds very hippy, but I always trust myself, my capability, my positive energy and the universe works for me. So, I’ll take any next steps as I believe they must be good for me!