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What Makes it Local?

Intouch magazine asked Meg Purser to share her thoughts on what it means to be local. Meg is the managing director of local firm purser corporate communications. Located in the heart of Newcastle, pursers assists the businesses and people they believe add value to our community with all of their public relations needs.


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For a long time, I have joked that there is a magnet at Nobbys that attracts Novocastrians back whether we like it or not. Truth be told – I believe it. Many of us have left only to find ourselves back in our home town.

I purposely use the term Novocastrian for anyone who lives within the greater Hunter region. As I write these words, I also know that there will be many people in local government areas that will be screaming through their screens at me. But let’s face it, Newcastle is, what most of us happily refer to as, the capital hub of this incredibly beautiful and rich region that we call our home.

I was born in a hospital that used to be situated overlooking Newcastle Beach, as was my mum and my brother. My dad, he was a ‘lakey’ and was born at Belmont Hospital. But here’s the thing, today technically the Pursers are all ‘lakies’ – living with our families in beautiful suburbs of Lake Macquarie but proudly call ourselves Novocastrians.

Like most of my generation, after school and uni, I found myself looking for jobs further afield. I landed in Wagga Wagga working at a university that, in just a few years, gave me a lifetime of experiences both personally and professionally. One of the more light-hearted of those was meeting one of my dearest friends who immediately labelled me a ‘Novocastration’ – a person who was removed from Newcastle. I remind him often that he clearly didn’t understand the magnetic pull of our region on locals!

At the time, I had no real expectations of returning to Newcastle, and I nearly didn’t after being slightly tempted by the halls of Parliament in Canberra. But, the Nobbys magnet sucked me back unexpectantly into a job at the only coal loader in the Port at the time. It was in this role that I think I really came face to face with a key historical local element - most local people either worked in or have coal or BHP in their family heritage. Little did I know at the time, this region was on the cusp of another big chapter in its history with the announcement that BHP would close its doors just a few years post 1989 earthquake recovery. I had also reached a point in my career, where things really started to gel and make sense. So, it was this period when I began to formulate my view on what I consider a powerful aspect of our local community – the power of working together.

I was fortunate to work for a number of years as a PR person in a homegrown large advertising agency where I experienced firsthand amazing local creative and business talent.

The Purser Clan - Meg, Noleen, Bob, Jennifer, Michael and Scott (Mills).

A few years later, Dad and I decided to join forces. Our family had, until that moment in 2000, agreed that a family business was not for us and that it was important for Meg not to be a ‘mini-Bob’. Bob Purser is an award-winning communication expert who has strategically guided some of this region’s biggest and best through good times and bad. There are many people that I credit for giving me the tools that have helped me in my career and my life, but my Dad gave me the lions share together with the ever sensible and loving support of my mum Noleen.

It turns out that family business was okay for us, as it has been for many other locals. In Newcastle, the family business has spawned some of our region’s most successful and innovative businesses. The interesting part of this notion is that as our region broke out of the steel city mould, we created a place that supports local business ingenuity. Some might call it the concept of a family or village, but we can also call it local. It has created opportunities for entrepreneurs and business innovators that continue to evolve our region and help it compete.

There is no doubt that we are currently living in strange days. As a person who has helped manage all kinds of issues, this one tops the lot. In every crisis, we move through shock, fear, panic, realisation, management, hopefulness and eventually recovery. These are all natural and normal and I make the point that history tells us that our locals are pretty resilient and good at navigating crisis and change. But, change is just change, and we should not lose sight of what is really important for our community (and not just ourselves).

This place has enabled me to carve a career that is based upon my understanding of local. It has introduced me to businesses and organisations of all kinds which, in turn, continues to provide me with absolutely fabulous opportunities (and as a PR person I could not let that popular culture reference to be missed) to meet and work with so many people.

This place has also provided Scott and I with so many opportunities, true friendships and loads of fun things to be involved with and support.

This place allows us to connect with so many versions of local every day (even in iso). I adore my community and the people, who willingly and within the magnetic pull of Nobbys, work together to do great things. That is what makes it local.


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