Call it destiny. One minute you’re coasting along happily, Executive Producer of your nation’s top public affairs and politics TV programme. And then, just like that, there is a meeting with the President’s office, a project, and everything changes.
Rodolfo Milesi, a successful Argentine journalist, was catapulted into the nation’s embassy in London as press attaché, and told to help rebuild bridges with the UK’s most influential media. It was early 2002, shortly after Argentina’s financial meltdown. And relations with the international media needed all the professional care and attention Argentina could muster. Truth be told, Rodolfo’s destiny may actually have been mapped out long before the crisis in Buenos Aires.
Years beforehand, when he was just a 20-year-old on his gap year, Rodolfo’s friends were headed for the United States, but he chose to study English in London. Later, in 2003, after two years successfully helping to rebuild the image of his nation’s recovering economy, Rodolfo took another unusual step. During this time he’d learned much about British attitudes towards Argentina and Latin America in general, and the seed of an idea was germinating.
“I was inspired by a Latin America not known about in the UK,” he says. “I realised the British media was not just interested in our negative or stereotypical news. I could see much more interest in our gastronomy, wine and landscapes. But the opportunities had to be placed on the table by somebody.” He realized that the “somebody” could be himself. “Out of the blue, I sent an email to Lord Bell to tell him about my idea.” Within 24 hours, the UK’s leading PR practitioner had called him back and, a day later, they were huddled together planning enthusiastically. “I think it was because I was so excited and confident,” Rodolfo reflects now.
Out of that early meeting sprang the Branding Latin America Project, first at Bell Pottinger and since 2008, as an independent PR firm. Destiny, he suspects, will keep him in the UK for some time to come, “doing positive and tangible things for the reputation of my country and Latin America.” But he plans to head home at some point. “Who knows?” he says with a smile. “Maybe, if destiny chooses, in 20 years I’ll run for the presidency myself.”