When Paull Young started a blog during his Bachelor of Communication (Public Relations) at Charles Sturt University (CSU), he never thought it would take him around the world. Now working on strategic partnerships with the public content team at Instagram, Paull traces his stellar career back to Bathurst.
Paull Young loves to communicate. He’s good at it and he has the client list to prove it. For the past 10 years, Paull has helped brands like Telstra, Cisco and The New York Times with their social media strategy. He was also part of the first executive leadership team at charity: water, a non-profit providing clean drinking water to people in the developing world. Now he works with key partners to create best-in-class integrations on the Instagram platform.
Paull has been recognised as being among the most influential expats by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) and has been asked to speak with media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal and Fox Business Network about digital marketing and social media strategy.
Taking on the world
For Paull, it all began with CSU.
“I think I was deeply interested in so much of what we covered in the degree. The more I opened my eyes, the more I learned things. I started exploring internet communications while I was at Bathurst and it was so early from 2002 to 2004 that there were not many academics writing books about the internet.
“I started a blog just as I was finishing uni. There was, like, three lines about blogs in a textbook, but I was teaching first-year students by then and thought this blog would improve my writing and help share ideas with students. Unbeknownst to me, this was just the third PR blog in Australia and one of only about 100 globally, so it was a very, very small community and I was the youngest person in it.
“I met a bunch of people online through that blog. That was the initial launching point that set up my whole career and life path. At that point, there was no social media industry really in Australia. So I did what a lot of young Aussies do, I quit my job, sold my car, and got a one-way ticket to the States and on to Europe to meet all the people that I had met blogging.”
Paull spent eight years in New York, first working with social media agency Converseon and then charity: water before accepting his current role with Instagram and making the move to San Francisco.
“I’ve got nothing but love for CSU. Uni was the best years of my life. It taught me everything I know and it gave me the chance to land where I am today.”
Social media has changed the way the world communicates, and Paull has managed to harness that shift in his career.
“At charity: water we were the first charity to have over a million Twitter followers and the first charity and the seventeenth brand overall to use Instagram. I was responsible for raising about $100 million online in five years with my team, so we sort of became the breakthrough example of an online charity.
“Now I sit on the media partnerships team at Instagram working with media partners, public figures and celebrities all over the world as well as major cultural events like the Olympics. I’m sort of the nerd whisperer, as I sit between the people who work with public figures and the engineers who build the product. The industry is so fast paced and deeply intellectually stimulating. We do things at a really large scale and have tremendous global reach with 500 million users of Instagram. It’s a really fun place to be.”
Paull describes the rise of social media as a revolution.
“When I did my degree, we didn’t have Facebook, blogs were new and Twitter really did not exist. What we’ve seen is the democratisation of how people communicate and the world becoming connected on an individual basis. I believe that, ultimately, communication is about developing mutually beneficial relationships, and that aligns with the best models of public relations. I learned that at Bathurst.”
Nothing but love
Paull happily maintains a connection with his CSU course.
“I did a virtual Q&A with comms students last year, which was really fun. Students at Bathurst were tweeting questions at me as I was flying across America for business. They asked me some really smart questions.
“I’ve got nothing but love for CSU. Uni was the best years of my life. It taught me everything I know and it gave me the chance to land where I am today. CSU is a brilliant uni academically and I’ll always think really highly of someone who has a CSU degree. I work with dozens of Ivy Leaguers, and there’s me from little old Charles Sturt University, but I don’t feel like I missed anything that my Harvard and Yale colleagues had.
“But what CSU also gives you is a community – relationships and connections that are even more important than what you learn in books. Being immersed in that culture provides so much more value than if you were simply just getting a degree. That’s why CSU is so special.”
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