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Focus On Turkey

VitalStatistics

Population: 73,085,000
Monetary unit: New Turkish lira (YTL)
Capital city: Ankara
Major languages: Turkish
Major religions: Muslim c. 97.5%, of which Sunni c. 82.5%, Shi(i (mostly nonorthodox Alevi) c. 15.0%; nonreligious c. 2.0%; other (mostly Christian) c. 0.5%
Ethnic composition: Turk 65.1%; Kurd 18.9%; Crimean Tatar 7.2%; Arab 1.8%; Azerbaijani 1.0%; Yoruk 1.0%; other 5.0%
Age breakdown: under 15, 26.4%; 15–29, 26.2%; 30–44, 22.3%; 45–59, 15.2%; 60–74, 7.2%; 75 and over, 2.7%
Life expectancy: male 71.5 years; female 76.1 years
Education: Percentage of population age 25–64 having: no formal schooling through primary education 61%; lower secondary 10%; upper secondary 18%; university 11%. Literacy (2009): total population age 6 and over literate 92.4%; males literate 97.0%; females literate 87.9%
Urban/Rural split: urban 69.2%; rural 30.8%
Income per household (USD): $12,822
Broadband internet users (%): -

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

Introduction

Since intervention by the IMF in 2002, and the subsequent restructuring of the economy, Turkey has been growing rapidly. When the financial crash came in 2008 it had low levels of public debt so was well placed, and between 2002 and 2010 GDP tripled from $231 billion to $736 billion. Furthermore, the OECD predicts that between 2011 and 2017 it will be the fastest growing of the OECD members with an annual average growth rate of 6.7%.

As a result, the PR industry is growing rapidly. “There are now around 50 academic faculties all over Turkey that offer courses in PR and corporate communications,” says Mehmet Uçan, brand PR manager at Yildiz Holding. “PR awards are becoming much more popular, and we’ve seen significantly increased participation in the TUHID Golden Compass Awards. Most importantly of all, CEOs at companies of all sizes believe more than ever in the importance of managing their corporate communications.”

He continues: “We’re seeing companies place greater importance on internal communication, but the greatest recent shift in the industry has been towards digital media and social networks. The digital field is very important these days. Not only are more and more PR practitioners paying attention to it, but also more and more clients are investing in campaigns in this area.”

In March 2011%44 35 million Turks were online, and Isil Cayirli, regional marketing manager at Mercer, agrees that it is a key area. “Most of the people who work in Turkish PR agencies are former reporters, so they have a good feel for what make a story and how to place it in the media,” he says. “But increasingly these agencies are turning their attention to social media and exploring how they can use it to convey their clients’ messages.” 

Working There

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Savvy pensioners and seasonal sun-worshippers have taken advantage of the lower costs of living in Turkey for many years, but the rising numbers of expats working in Turkey suggest that it's not a bad place to settle permanently either.

Red Tape

All expats have to obtain a work permit to be allowed to work legally in Turkey. The government is becoming very adept at finding illegal workers and enforcing immediate deportation and heavy fines.

Despite recent improvements in the level of bureaucracy, the Turkish government is still hesitant to give out too many work permits to expats and there are still certain fields that foreign nationals are excluded from working in. Not only that, qualifying for a work permit is dependent on proving that you possess a skill that can't already be found within the Turkish population.

However, it's still possible for experienced and determined expats to find jobs in Turkey; particularly in tourism, teaching, property and finance. Opportunities are also available in the engineering, IT, HR, design, PR, marketing and sales industries; although these tend to be harder to find.

Work permits

Expats should apply for a work permit at least one month before arriving in Turkey. The

submission process actually involves a double application: both the expat and the future employer have to submit forms and documentation within three working days of each other. Permits are usually granted by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security within 90 days.

There are three different types of work permit: temporary, permanent and independent.

Temporary work permits last for a maximum of a year and only allow expats to work at a specific workplace in the exact job specified at the time the permit was applied for.

Permanent work permits are sometimes awarded to expats who have lived in Turkey for at least eight years and who have already held a work permit for a minimum of six years.

Independent work permits may be given to applicants who have been living in Turkey for more than five years without breaking any laws. The ‘five year’ condition is occasionally waived for foreigners who are married to a Turkish citizen.

If your application for a permit is rejected you can appeal the decision within 30 days.

Residency permits

Unfortunately, the red tape doesn’t stop there! Expats are also expected to obtain a residency permit within 30 days of arriving in Turkey and preferably before starting work. This official document states that you have the right to live in Turkey for the specified period of time and is obtained by registering with the local police headquarters or the Directorate of Security.

It’s possible to apply for five year residency if you own Turkish property and have a title deed as proof, but if you only have a rental agreement or contract this is reduced to a maximum of three years. As with many application processes in Turkey, there are fees to pay. These are usually calculated based on how long you plan to stay in the country.

Usually a residency permit is granted for a two year period on initial application; this can then be renewed up to four times.

Costs

The currency is much more stable than it once was. The new Turkish Lira was introduced in January 2005 and is equivalent to 1,000,000 of the old Turkish Lira. One new Turkish Lira is roughly equivalent to 0.35 Pound Sterling, 0.41 Euros and 0.56 US Dollar (October 2011).

Turkey's strength and significance in worldwide finance is on the increase: Istanbul is tipped to become a World Finance Centre and Turkish banks are now regarded as amongst the most stable in Europe. (As an expat, it's fairly likely that your bank will be chosen for you by your employer and you will then have to set up an account in order to collect your salary.)

The cost of living in Turkey is not as cheap as it once was, but it still compares very favourably with neighbouring European countries. Expats who live, work and earn Turkish Lira (YTL) will find they can live a comfortable lifestyle.

To give a rough idea of costs (converted into English Pounds), a loaf of bread ranges in price from

27p to 43p, a bottle of wine costs between £4.00 and £8.00 and going to the cinema will set you back about £4.20.

Accommodation

When it comes to where to live, there’s no lack of suitable, well-priced accommodation to pick from. The choice of rental properties is varied and great deals can be found. The same goes for buying property, which is a popular option for expats as house prices are much lower than many other European countries.

Rental prices vary from £140.00 to £790.00 per month, depending on size, facilities and location. Properties nearer to the centre of large towns tend to be more expensive. Agreements are usually signed for a year at a time and are sometimes paid in advance; although expats can normally negotiate their way out of this and pay via monthly installments instead. (Bargaining and negotiating on price is a common and accepted practice in Turkey.)

Utility bills are not typically included in the rent so expats will need to factor in the cost of gas, water and electricity. However, these utilities tend to be rather cheap and are unlikely to exceed 200 YTL per month (approximately £70.00).

Buying food from local markets is a great way to keep costs low; everything you need for your weekly shop can be found here. Things only start to become expensive if you buy goods that have to be imported from your home country. For instance, a jar of peanut butter can cost as much as all the ingredients for an entire meal!

An extra cost that has to be taken into account is bottled water. Although many areas are considered to have tap water that’s safe to drink, bottled water is still the safest option. Luckily, a 19 litre bottle is usually no more than 4 YTL (£1.40).

Culture Snapshot

Religion

Turkey has a population of around 75 million people, 99% of which are Muslim. Despite this high percentage, the country strives to be a nation that's tolerant of other religions and customs. This all-inclusive, secular stance is formally declared in the country's constitution and is officially protected by the army.

Of course, many strict Muslims and traditionalists remain and debate still rages between them and the secularists. Suffice to say that the larger cities are fairly relaxed and Western clothing and behaviour doesn't single you out as much as it once did. However, it's prudent to be aware of what you're wearing and doing. Plunging necklines and bare legs are not common place and, if you're female, it's advisable to carry a light shawl or scarf to cover your bare shoulders in busy public places.

Religious festivals and customs should of course still be respected, especially during Ramadan, when expats shouldn’t be seen eating, drinking or smoking outside during daylight hours.

Food

Turkish cooking is well-known all over the world, and it’s more than just kebabs! It combines culinary traditions from Central Asia with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influences. Despite the kebab meat associations, red meat is actually one of the more expensive items to buy in Turkey because the supply of livestock is relatively low.

Turkey produces a variety of its own wines and also has a traditional, anise-flavoured drink known as Raki. Black tea is popular with the locals and is drunk every day.

Activities

Turkey’s varied geography and terrain make the country an ideal place to indulge in all sorts of sports and activities such as mountaineering, football, volleyball, golf, scuba-diving, rafting and yachting. The extreme variation in the climate means this is one of the few countries where you can go sunbathing and skiing in the same day!

Turkey has a wealth of sights and sounds to offer and will appeal to everyone from city-types and outdoors enthusiasts to culture vultures, sun-seekers and shopping addicts. There really is something to suit all tastes and interests.

All local costs/regulations correct as of October 2011. While Fabric and PRWeek endeavour to provide the correct information they accept no liability.

MyMove

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Media

Digital might be the coming medium in Turkey, but television remains by far the most important medium. Aside from the four channels run by TRT, the state broadcaster, there are around 300 private channels, the most important of which are ATV, Kanal D, StarNTV, and CNBC-e.

While regulations prevent brand mentions on all but news channels, and there are no official viewing figures for news programmes, television watching is something of a national obsession in Turkey and so the medium remains central to most PR campaigns.

In terms of print, the most important newspapers are Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Cumhuriyet, and Haberturk. There are 1,000 private radio stations, the most important of which are Kral FM and Super FM.

Major Brands

Whether it is multinationals or indigenous firms, the telecommunications, banking, airlines, automotive and FMCG sectors lead the way in terms of editorial coverage. Notable brands include Turkcell, Turk Telekom, Henkel, Yapi Kredi Bank, Garanti Bank, Vodafone, and Unilever.

Agencies

There are more than 200 PR agencies in Turkey, most of which are members of either the Turkish Public Relations Association or its newer competitor IDA. Dr Serra Görpe of the communication faculty, public relations and advertising department at Istanbul University, outlines recent changes to Turkey's agencies: “More and more of them are specialising in, for example, technology, healthcare, investor relations and so on.”

She continues: “Agencies are investing in their employee base with training programmes. Also corporates are demanding improved measurement and evaluation of campaigns, so we’re seeing a lot of good work in this area.”

 

Global groups such as McCann, Hill + Knowlton Strategies and Ogilvy have established a presence but it is still the local shops such as AB Iletisim, Bersay, Mese Iletisim, Lobby Medialand Press & Public Relations, MPR, Grup 7, Image PR, Saydam PR, Caretta PR, Pozitif PR and Zarakol PR that predominate.

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