BA’s PR Pro: Nora Leary
Article by Sharon Salt.
Nora Leary first came to Buenos Aires after suffering a serious case of reverse culture shock. She had just returned to the United States after working with Generation Rwanda, an NGO based in Kigali. The genocide there created a generational gap in education, so she worked by helping orphaned Rwandans learn English, format their CVs, and find internships. It was interesting when she left, she said, because “they said, ‘I can’t believe you’re leaving, you’re like part of our family.’Everyone says that, but they were orphans, so it meant more.”
Back in the United States, she felt “unsettled” and began searching for ways to work abroad. Unable to find a paying position in Rwanda, she considered going to Libya before finally deciding to come to Buenos Aires as a Princeton in Latin America Fellow.
The project wasn’t so successful. She was tasked with setting up an SAT prep course, but because so few students from Argentina go to the United States for undergraduate studies, there just wasn’t enough demand. She started teaching English to make some extra money, and then, after some time, found an opening at Uplifted, where she now works as an Account Supervisor.
Nora brought her PR experience to the company to run PR and Marketing campaigns for clients. Now, Nora says, “the traditional way of PR has moved into social media. You never know who’s looking where, so you need to put yourself in front of them.”
“But in a good way,” she added.
Occasionally, she has to navigate between Spanish and English, finding the right balance for her clients. Most of her clients are primarily English-speaking, but sometimes up to half the users are Spanish-speakers. “We have to be careful. We’ll post in both languages, or it will be in English only but we don’t use slang.”
“The first thing someone does is look for your company’s blog or twitter. If they see you haven’t posted anything recently – or at all – they’re going to wonder. But if there’s an interesting post, they’ll click on it, and that’s another hit for your site.”
At first, Nora says, some foreign clients don’t understand why Uplifted is based in Buenos Aires, and “it can seem fishy,” but there are clear advantages. For one, the prices are lower. But companies like Uplifted also attract a lot of highly qualified employees like Nora, who has both in-house and agency experience. Before her time in Rwanda, she worked at a PR firm in D.C. She prefers working at Uplifted, though, because there’s more freedom at a small company, and she likes the challenge of living abroad.
Buenos Aires is great, she says, “there is a large international community.” She also loves
asados, the idea of “taking a break for family on Sunday, that culture.”
Working in Argentina isn’t always easy, though. She always works through feriados. “I can’t tell myclients in the United States that I’m not working because it’s a feriado here.” Besides,
she says, “There are so many!”
When I asked Nora if she had any advice for other expats, she said to expect delays. “It can be as simple as getting a bus. Sometimes it’s fine, but sometimes it will drive right past me. Other times, you know, it’s not even running that day.” It used to bother her but now she just says, “Fine, I’ll wait for the next one.”
As for the wanderlust that brought Nora to Buenos Aires in the first place – it’s definitely still there, and it’s making big plans. She’d like to go to Brazil or back to Africa one day, specifically to a Portuguese-speaking country like Mozambique. This is, of course, after she somehow finds the time to learn Portuguese. But seeing her so comfortable here after arriving with little more than high-school Spanish, there’s no doubt in my mind that she’ll do all these things and more.