Humans of Berkeley – Povel Torudd
I recently hit the big 2-0 in my PR adventure, and it got me thinking. Not just about how old I’m getting (let’s not dwell on that), but about something I find quite special in the world of PR: how incredibly diverse and flexible PR as a career path can be, whether you choose a linear or non-linear route. I want to share my personal journey with you, and why I’ve grown to love this profession so much.
First things first, if you peeked at my LinkedIn timeline (or now feel prompted to do so), you might not have immediately labelled my professional journey as a typical PR career. For starters, I graduated from university at the ripe old age of 27 and my first gig in a PR agency was as an intern in the newly established ‘tech team’ at PPR in Sydney. But what could have been the beginning of a linear career in corporate communications never happened for me. I wandered off into other realms of brand activations, communications, creative storytelling and sponsorships. Oh, and recycled tipis.
Yep, in amongst the career twists and turns I even went on a wild adventure and co-founded a recycled glamping company which I ran for a few years. Then, I made a U-turn and dove back into the PR agency world for a while. After that, I left Australia for Europe and ventured in-house and explored the new, now more social aspects of PR and cyber communications, including content and brand documentaries, in various positions at a global cybersecurity company, spanning almost 10 years. When I returned to Australia I even had a spell in a creative agency before finally landing in my current role, where I set up and lead the Australian branch of my favourite PR and B2B storytelling agency. You can probably guess which one.
Why am I taking you on this winding journey? Well, there’s a good reason. I feel fortunate to be in an industry where you can evolve and thrive, even if your professional path resembles a maze more than a straight line. Each of these career twists exposed me to new ideas, none of which were typically PR – but could all be adapted to it with the right amount of elbow grease. My curiosity about human biohacking became a global PR story about cybersecurity and hacking of human beings, as we evolve and merge with technology. A decision to sponsor an amateur expedition to the North Pole led to another expedition idea that became a global award-winning brand documentary and content series that ended up on NatGeo’s Instagram account (multiple times). Setting up tipis at various music festivals and working with consumer brands to build immersive experiences made me realize the value of integrated multi-channel communications.
The list goes on and this is what has made the PR profession so special for me, and it has always made me feel welcomed back with open arms.
Sure, you can take a more traditional route, climbing the PR agency or in-house PR ladder probably gets you to a higher position faster and with more predictability. But for me and many of my peers, the chance to celebrate the less-travelled career paths without losing all career momentum is what sets the industry apart, and in the most wonderful way. From that first career touch-point as an intern, PR career paths are multiple choice.
From a creative standpoint, our industry needs champions of both the linear and the non-linear to shine. Agencies need people who bring fresh ideas and a touch of disruptor culture to keep things competitive. They need diversity in creative thinking. But, they also need a solid account team to put those creative ideas into action. So, agencies benefit from both the unconventional thinkers and the industry veterans who know how to get things done. And it’s the perfect balance of creativity, industry knowledge, and innovation that enables us to deliver the best results for our clients.
But there’s one more piece to my 20-year anniversary observations. Our diverse career paths also shape us into the unique business storytellers that we are. We’re not just cookie-cutter PR pros. Our individual journeys infuse our narratives with our own unique set of life and career experiences, and that’s what makes our storytelling stand out. We can draw from our various backgrounds, whether it’s glamping adventures or cybersecurity landscapes, to create stories that resonate with audiences in a way that conventional storytellers might struggle to achieve.
In the end, our diverse paths have not only made us more versatile PR practitioners but also skilled and compelling business storytellers. We each bring a fresh perspective and a dash of creativity to the table, and that’s what keeps our industry vibrant, our stories captivating and our audiences engaged. For me personally, an opportunity to experiment with my own career journey and still feel like I am where I should be, age-appropriately, even after 20 years of not exclusively being in PR.
So, whether one follows a traditional PR career path or ventures off the beaten track, the PR profession welcomes all and thrives on the diversity of experiences and perspectives we bring. So, here’s to celebrating the rich tapestry of PR journeys, whether they follow the direct or the scenic route matters less.
- Who’s your favourite storyteller? I grew up with Astrid Lindgren like most Swedish kids of my generation and my visual childhood memories of her stories are still clear as day. Jules Verne would be a close second and some of the first books I read by myself.
- What would you sing at a karaoke night? I’m that tragic guy who’s successfully managed to avoid karaoke my whole life, but if I had to… what’s the shortest and most monotone song in the world? That one.
- What’s the most used app on your phone? The camera app, or Instagram, close call… maybe hand-in-hand.