New Thoughts on Adjusting to Life in Washington, D.C.

I had the great pleasure last week of attending a panel discussion at the National Press Club featuring press attachés from the embassies of several nations. As you likely know, I have a great interest in how communicators from abroad acclimate themselves to life and work in Washington, D.C.

They offered some valuable advice along those lines, advice I’ll be sure to include in the next edition of my position paper, “The Global Communicator’s Welcome to Washington Guide.”

Thorsten Eisingerich, Director for Press and Information at the Austrian Embassy, put forth this suggestion for newly arrived diplomats. Adjust to your new life in America by attending events where experts in issues of importance to you and where colleagues from other nations congregate. He also recommended reaching out to area universities and think tanks in order to forge professional connections.

The Swedish Embassy’s Public Diplomacy, Press, and Communications Counselor, Monica Enqvist, told of her success sponsoring events jointly with Washington-based organizations. Not only does this create new alliances, it also extends the reach of both groups when they reach each other’s audiences.

Carla Portalanza, who oversees Culture and Communication Affairs at the Embassy of Ecuador, offered another practical thought. If your organization works with a public affairs or communications agency, rely on them to provide you with knowledge of and entrée to resources that can help you learn about life inside the Beltway. This of course applies to those working for corporations and non-governmental organizations in addition to embassies.

Thanks to each of the panelists for an enlightening discussion that provided ideas that can be put into action right away. What other ideas come to your mind?


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