“But Turkey…? Why Turkey?” So many people have asked that question when we’ve told them about our plans.
You might think it would be easy to bash out a few glib paragraphs and a couple of anecdotes to explain the background, but I’ve actually found myself staring at a blank page for half an hour.
The reason? Well, I suppose it’s because there are at least a dozen different answers – and marshalling them into some sort of order is something of a challenge. Like everything, it’s probably best to start at the beginning.
I suppose it began as a slow but nevertheless powerful realisation that, professionally at least, we were unhappy because we didn’t seem to have any real direction or goal. Neither of us is particularly ambitious and we’ve never had any desire to grow an empire; just the same, we were finding ourselves working harder and harder just to stand still.
Although it’s changing fast, the PR market is also undeniably overcrowded, flooded both by journalists being made redundant as the internet continues to offer new channels for news and information and by universities churning out energetic, bright young things who wake up every morning eager to wrestle the PR tiger.
Of course, many would find dramatic and rapid change exciting and, if you don’t mind endless networking and late nights in the office, if you have an encyclopaedic grasp of the latest social media platforms and the stamina of the Duracell bunny, then the Yorkshire communications industry can get you all the things in life we’re told we need.
The thing is, we realised “things” are not necessarily what we want. Instead we want a life lived, not an existence – and, almost immediately, we began to feel a little like misfits. Put another way, we realised we were no longer enjoying a ride which was taking us somewhere we didn’t really want to go – so much so the desire to get off became overwhelming.
So why Turkey? Actually, Turkey wasn’t the first choice – for me, at least. After an exploratory trip last year, Africa seemed to offer more opportunity and we even worked with UKTI to identify potential markets which needed our skills and expertise.
In the end, obstacles presented by distance and the risks posed by volatile political and religious situations persuaded us to reconsider. Spain and Italy – where we have family – were discarded in light of the turmoil and uncertainty over the Euro. So, having visited Turkey and fallen in love with its beautiful Mediterranean coast, it was our next target.
We found a relaxed and easy-going culture, low cost of living, affordable property, potential for work with companies in an expanding tourism sector in a country identified as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Turkey moved straight to the top of the list and work resumed with UKTI to establish how we could adapt our offer to match possible demand. As a result, Dolphin International Communications is finally launched this week – a name chosen to reflect both our new Mediterranean location and the fact we’re still only a “click” away for clients who have opted to stay with us.
Of course, some have told us we’re mad. Others seem convinced we’re heading for some sort of war zone or a backward nation stuck in the 1930s. It’s true we might not be able to buy ham or sausages unless they’re “under the counter”, the power goes off pretty regularly and most of the TV will be unintelligible (although I’m actually looking forward to learning a new language).But if you’ve watched The Hobbit, you’ll have seen Bilbo leaving the detritus of a meticulously-organised life behind him as he runs after Gandalf and the dwarves, shouting: “I’m going on an adventure!”
There’s no doubt there will be challenges ahead, some involving things we don’t even know about yet. Just the same, inside, I’m with Bilbo.