Being Global Starts With Being Bicoastal

Leslie Campisi
Leslie Campisi

It wasn’t until happy hour at We Work Golden Gate—home of Hotwire PR’s new San Francisco office—that I realized just how New York-y I had become. A Web developer named Lance came over to introduce himself as our neighbor in the communal space, and, as we started to chit-chat, I snapped into East Coast networking mode. Why is he telling me this? Does he need PR support? I knew I should have updated the case studies in our creds deck.

The same skills that come in very good stead in Manhattan—and increasingly Brooklyn—no matter the time of day simply do not work in San Francisco.

I can only speak for myself when I say that I’ve experienced a new and enjoyable pace at which deals get done, in which the personal relationship precedes the business relationship.

These experiences forced me to rethink my, shall we say, urgent and straightforward work habits.

I began to wonder if I’ve been paying enough attention to the different ways in which my team conducts business, and how (or even if) it would be a good match for clients with a more laid-back attitude, West Coast or otherwise.

It’s funny. As members of a global team spanning three continents, Hotwire U.S. already has a good feel for how the UK office operates versus the German office, and so on.

But we should also recognize that there are differences between the East and West coasts of America. In the current business climate, being global starts with being bicoastal.

So what’s my major takeaway from happy hour with Lance? While every company has traits that are valued across the entire business, it’s important to make sure that you aren’t letting a single style of work dominate.

To have a balanced offering means that you recognize the differences in people and how that plays out in the PR business, internally and externally, and across coasts and countries.

Thanks, West Coast, for teaching me:

That it’s ok to shake my hustle. Sometimes happy hour is just happy hour. I try to make sure my teams have the opportunity to enjoy downtime. Not every after-work adventure requires a networking focus.

To invest in policies and tools that reveal different work styles at play. We run a global Polycom videoconferencing system, but Google Hangouts and Skype work just as well for building in face time as part of the everyday life of the agency.

It’s fun to get teams mixing and understanding what life is like outside their own zip code.

To go with the flow. How often do you get a chance to build a new network, in a new city? It’s been a fantastic learning experience, even if our IT is still a work in progress. Opening an office in a new market forced me to focus on what was truly important—like building an awesome team—and not to sweat the small stuff.

In the interest of fair play, here’s what I think West Coasters should keep in mind if and when they find themselves on a team comprised of New Yorkers:

Assume everything is urgent. The pace at which we operate—caffeinated or not—means that we’re conditioned to make decisions quickly and move on. This isn’t a nervous disorder. Promise.

You get points for keeping up even if it feels unnatural.

Take ownership. You will never exit a meeting not knowing what’s expected of you and when it’s due. And if you fail to volunteer to take on a piece of an assignment, chances are someone has taken ownership of making sure everyone takes ownership anyway.

Job = life. For many of us, our jobs are the centerpiece of our lives. A New Yorker’s circle of friends has at its core a collection of people we used to work with, people we used to work for and even former clients. This helps to explain why the business-pleasure graph for us is so mixed up.

Thanks, San Franciscans. And so we’re clear, if you bump into me at a bar in the Mission, and I immediately start pitching you, well…just smile and tell me to relax. PRN


Leslie Campisi is managing director, U.S. of Hotwire PR, She can be reached at

This article appeared in the July 15 issue of PR News. Subscribe to PR News today to receive weekly comprehensive coverage of the most fundamental PR topics from visual storytelling to crisis management to media training.