Daniela Penno and her talent for telling stories

Profile Piece, Repositioning and Awareness
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Daniela Penno and her talent for telling stories
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by Carla Damasceno Ferreira

Daniela’s passion for writing and communications was the foundation for building her dream public relations agency in Australia. Through the strategic promotion of food and wine brands, tourism and textiles  in Australia, Daniela is fast becoming known for her work with Latin America. Her success is a result of sheer determination and love of her craft.

An Argentinian journalist of Italian descent, Daniela shares her story with us through words and body language, a common characteristic of both Italians and Latin Americans. She has a real love for what she does: telling good stories.

Graduating in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Santa Fe, she is the founder and director of latinpr!, an Australian based, boutique public relations and events agency invigorating the promotion of Latin America (both Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries), and Spain in Australia. The agency provides a variety of services for strategic communications and marketing solutions, which includes promotional events, product launches, and sponsorships.

Her journey started during her university years, where she edited, produced and presented her own radio program for the National University of Litoral in her hometown of Santa Fe. It was called, “Si Volvieran los Dragones” which translates into “If the dragons returned”.

Her passion for research became apparent during this internship. “It was a cultural and educational program where we researched and created radio documentaries about international artists, musicians, painters, from Argentina as well as famous personalities from around the world. The program recognised by the Martín Fierro Del Interior Awards for Best Radio Documentary Program, the most prominent prize for Argentine radio and television,” she said.

After university, Daniela moved to Buenos Aires where she diversified her career, working for  Burson-Marsteller, a global public relations and communications firm which managed Argentine product brands such as Quilmes, the Argentine brewery, wineries from Mendoza (one of Argentina’s most important wine regions), Numico and GSK Pharmaceuticals, among others. This work experience was essential in building her capability across a range of strategic communication practices including events.

Her interest in Australia began during her time with Burson-Marsteller when promoting Australia as a tourism destination to Latin American markets. Daniela and her husband applied for a Skilled Migration Visa to Australia from Buenos Aires in 2007. Her husband is a biomedical engineer, a highly sought profession at the time of their application. Niether Daniela nor her husband had been to Australia before. It took almost a year for the visa to be granted, which also afforded Daniela the same permanent resident rights as her spouse.

“We have always enjoyed travelling and we were looking for an overseas experience. We thought ‘if we don’t do this now, we don’t know when we would have this opportunity again?’ After just 20 days of arriving in Australia, my husband started working in his industry and within four weeks of arriving, I was working for a small communication agency, even with my limited knowledge of Australian media”, Daniela said.

Although having previously studied English, Daniela found that language was a major obstacle in the beginning. Being an experienced PR professional in Argentina, where communicating effectively with precise language was her bread and butter; her new challenge was to deliver her craft in a second language, English. Understanding the local media culture also took time to navigate. At times, the pressure in the new environment got to the point that she felt like giving up.

Over time, the Latin American accent which Daniela initially saw as an obstacle became an asset that gave her cut-through when dealing with the media. “They always remembered me because of my strong accent. This led to a turning point, where I reassessed my weaknesses and all of my good qualities in order to find the best way forward for my career in a new country”.  This self-analysis began the creation of latinpr! Supporting the promotion of clients such as Latin American embassies, food product brands, world-renowned chefs, wineries from Chile and Argentina and educational organisations. Her company launched promotional events, such as Malbec World Day and the first international paella contest in Australia.

The idea of positioning her agency in this market niche began three years ago, and is now seeing positive outcomes with her communications being published by the Australian media.

Daniela has the ability to express the essence of different countries in Latin America. “We try to explain different cultures, in particular Latin America”, says Daniela, emphasising her genuine love for what she does as the secret to achieving her success. According to her, Australians are very receptive and have an interest in learning and adopting different cultures. This has enabled her telling the stories of the colourful peoples from Latin America. “Australia is a multicultural country, with a society happy to listen to stories from abroad. It gives many opportunities”, insists Daniela.

Daniela has the ability to translate the cultures of each of the Latin American countries. She can become Peruvian, when promoting Peruvian cuisine; Argentinian, when she talks about Patagonia or Mendoza; Ecuadorian when promoting raw Ecuadorian chocolate or Brazilian, when she promotes Carnival or other aspects of Brazilian culture. She is a chameleon of culture.

“The most important thing to remember is to follow your dreams. To achieve this, you need constant effort above all else.” explains Daniela, as she reflects on what she has learnt so far. “It is also just as important to know your qualities and skills and challenge yourself. Above all discover what you love to do would be my advice I would give to all who wish to prosper, in Australia, or anywhere”.  If this track record is anything to go by, Daniela has many more dreams to achieve and conquer.