Payam Edalat recently talked to Carlota Pico about his role as global communications social media producer at Philip Morris International, a transnational cigarette and tobacco manufacturing company. Payam explained how he got started in the industry and touched on his background working at Sky News. He also discussed the challenges of working in communications for a tobacco company across different countries and cultures; shared what it’s like working in a heavily regulated and highly scrutinized sector; and offered some wise advice for recent graduates based on his unique segue into the industry.

You can watch the full conversation in the video above or on YouTube, listen to the podcast on Apple and Spotify, and read our recap below.

Key takeaways

  • It’s important to have experience outside of marketing and social media, so that you can bring something that isn’t already there and offer a different perspective.
  • When working in a heavily scrutinized industry such as tobacco, accuracy must be your main priority. Every post, every tweet and every message will be carefully inspected, and has the potential to have wider ramifications for the business.
  • When you work across different markets, you have to be mindful of cultural norms and working customs. Each country has its own restrictions, practices and expectations, and you must take this into consideration. Conveying the right tone online is also critical.
  • The social media landscape is constantly evolving, with new platforms popping up overnight and existing platforms regularly altering their functionalities. You need to make sure you’re up to date and taking advantage of what each platform has to offer.
  • It’s vital that you prioritize people, and think about the type of content that you would personally engage with. Consider the last piece of content you shared: Which emotion did it trigger? Why did you share it? Emotions are something we all have in common, so make sure they’re at the center of everything you do.

Every country that you work in will have different cultures and practices. You and your team need to make sure that you’re aware of them so that you don’t do something that might jeopardize your plans.

Rapid-fire recs

What’s your source of inspiration?

There’s a journalist called Jon Snow on Channel Four in the UK. When I was little, I was always watching him on TV, so he’s the first person that comes to mind. He’s known for his colorful socks and ties—he’s a really colorful character! I wish I’d met him in my journalism days, but I haven’t yet.

A book you would recommend?

I recently finished “Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt. It’s a book about growing up in poverty in Ireland, and I found his storytelling technique really beautiful. 

Another one I’d recommend is “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi, which is a stunning book that does an outstanding job of setting the scene in your mind.

Your favorite app at the moment?

I really like Ground News, which is a news comparison platform. It’s the first thing I read when I wake up in the morning. It’s unique because they provide news that’s very tailored to your interests.

Connect with Payam and Carlota on LinkedIn.

This post was edited by Mary Kresge, a freelance content creator based in Madrid.

For more insights into social media production:

Make the most of video content – Amanda Lundin, global video and social media manager

Encourage engagement through social media – Harriet Drudge, social lead at The Athletic UK

Make your social media sing – Ayaz Aftab Hussain, solopreneur extraordinaire

To see the full transcript, click on page number 2 below.