Portuguese communications professional Beatriz Alves reflects on a month with the MediaCityUK agency.
With a stint as a journalist under her belt and having worked for some of Lisbon’s most exciting creative companies and global brands, Beatriz reflects on her four-weeks at Rule 5.
Imposing buildings, smiling people and an unequalled atmosphere with cameras, screens and the time passing quickly, was my first impression of MediaCityUK. Having arrived from Portugal, with a desire to learn more about the UK communication’s industry, I was excited to be joining an award winning agency with a range of exciting consumer accounts on their books.
Over the next four weeks, Rule 5 brought me into the fold and gave me a place on the team. I had hoped for the opportunity to shadow the team and learn more about their clients and how UK PR professionals work. In reality, I was rapidly integrated into the team and invited to share ideas, highlight how working practices differed from Portugal and even contribute to client projects.
Working at Rule 5 provided me with invaluable insight into the emphasis that is placed on organisation and planning and how this can benefit campaign activity. It’s something that I have passionately been seeking to improve in my own career development. It was amazing to work as part of a credible agency with such high standards as I was able to absorb huge amounts of valuable practices from the team’s industry expertise and experience.
It was inevitable I would make comparisons between my experience working in Portugal and what I have observed whilst in Manchester. As a Portuguese Comms professional who loves to work in my country, there were things I noticed immediately. It was great to experience a totally new culture. According to my experience, without wanting to make any sweeping generalisations, the main things that stood out to be are:
In the UK I experienced the famous British punctuality, everyone is always on time and meetings are conducted as long as planned. Something that stood out at Rule 5 was their diligence recording the hours they spend servicing accounts. In Portugal, it is common for meetings to start late and run long, which can be good for networking and building strong relationships with clients, but can be difficult for time management.
I noticed that in the UK, particularly at Rule 5, almost everything is planned far in advance and that is an unlikely luxury for many of the Portuguese companies. It might be impossible for Portuguese agencies to plan December’s activity during the summer, because of market pressures and the constant desire to have a first mover’s advantage. The majority of the clients ask for an annual plan, but plans in Portugal appear to be more fluid and change in response to daily trends, at times on a daily basis.
This is probably the most significant difference I found. In Portugal, it is very common to find people being expected to stay at their desk well past the end of the working day. It is so common that is considered as a cultural norm. However, attitudes are changing; I’ve spoken to senior professionals from a range of industries who agree that the industry’s attitude towards working hours need to be readdressed. Some companies have already begun changing, offering greater support to help their teams work more efficiently. I feel this is already the case in the UK, and Rule 5 is a fantastic example of the importance of respecting employees free time and working hours.
It is important to note that, both countries have common points. I recognise the same level of motivation from the team; mutual respect for colleagues; the importance of having senior team members being on hand to offer advice and guidance and the value placed on meaningful and detailed feedback being some the most similar areas.
I have been lucky that my professional journey, to date, has been in award winning companies and the quality of work and commitment of the team is very similar to that at Rule 5. It was great to see how another office works and have my first opportunity of working in the UK – hopefully it won’t be my last!
Ultimately, I would be unable to make a judgement about which country’s working practices are most effective. I’ve learned huge amounts whilst in the UK that I will be able to implement when back in Portugal. However, I believe that the UK would benefit from experiencing the way we work in Portugal and have the opportunity to pick up new skills.