Most of the attention on foreigners working in the US focuses on the millions of illegal immigrants often employed in blue-collar and service industry jobs. But there also are a huge number of international professionals working here legally in specialized occupations.
These expatriates and their families are usually from the upper-income demographic, which makes them a great target for many consumer brands. But right now, it appears expats in the US are a demographic in search of a media platform.
"This really isn't a hard-copy media category - it's more of a virtual category," explains Robin Pascoe, who runs Expatexpert.com, one of numerous Web sites aimed at expats living in every corner of the world.
IW Group VP Jimmy Lee agrees, noting that the Internet offers so much content from a home country that many expats, especially those from Asia, no longer need specific outlets catering to their needs and interests.
"They tend to utilize a lot of Web services or utilize their country's consul general," adds Lee, whose agency specializes in targeting the Asian and Asian-American markets. "Or they get a lot of support and information from the corporations that are sending them over. A lot of Asians that do come to the US also tend to concentrate in regions that already have a high concentration of Asian residents, and so [they] get a lot of word-of-mouth information."
There are, of course, a few titles, such as New York-based Irish Connections or the Irish Echo, that are likely to reach at least portions of the US' expat audience.
Irish Connections editor Tony Quinn describes his magazine as a global lifestyle read.
"We are all over the States; we're in Canada; we're throughout Europe, Indonesia, Ghana, and Mexico," he says. "We focus on entertainment, the arts, business, and sports, but there has to be an Irish link, no matter how tenuous that might be. As long as there's an Irish angle, we're going to be interested."
Pascoe, who's also the author of several books on expat living, including Raising Global Nomads: Parenting Abroad in an On-Demand World, suggests this may be a category where PR pros need to find alternatives to traditional print and broadcast pitches.
"The best way to reach them is to figure out where expats congregate online or to go through clubs, such as the British Club, in markets like Houston," she says.
Expats are a very hard demographic to target, but you can reach out to clubs and other organizations catering to specific nationalities in US cities
Many large corporations, such as Shell and Schlumberger, have large support groups for families of executives posted around the world that may be worth approaching with products and services
The media that exists for expats in the US is mostly online