International Public Relations: Confirming stereotypes or meeting new worlds?

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As a Brit working in a German environment I had a certain amount of adjusting to do here – there are the PR rules, for example, dealing with journalists is different here as opposed to in the UK, and then there are huge differences in client and agency-internal relationships, which are primarily underlined by the language. In German there are two forms of the word “you” – the politer “Sie” form and the “I’m on your level” “Du” form – this defines and maintains certain relationships – a complication that we do not have in the English language.

After working in Germany and in the PR industry for over 15 years, I have pretty much got to used to working here and so, it was with much excitement that we at Sympra co-founded the Public Relations Network (PRN) in 2005. I had visions of stuffy conference rooms filled with gesticulating Italians, highly-efficient and impatient Germans, and the late-comers from all over Europe! I am not going to say that I was completely wrong but I will say this – public relations is different in countries all over the world but public relations experts are surprisingly similar!

I must add here that one of our preconditions for joining the PRN is a strong vetting service that we carry out – obviously when selecting agencies we need ones that work in similar fields so our customers can rely on experts in the chosen country as well as the pricing being similar to ours (so we don’t have to reanimate our clients after showing them cost proposals), but our “personal” vetting service is in place so we can guarantee that we, and more importantly, our clients can work with these people – the world is smaller than we think, and people actually more similar than we can imagine!

So, now we have our Network – a hand-picked, and it really is hand-picked, selection of incredibly personable communication experts around the globe. International public relations may seem an impossible and insurmountable task at the beginning but if you are on a wavelength with your partners, then it is easier than you think. To our customers in Germany: The same rule applies as with drafting a national PR strategy – know roughly what you want to achieve, listen to the advice given by the experts of that country as they know their press and their market and then, simply lean back and enjoy being called “you”!

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