Magazine article Marketing

Different Strokes

Magazine article Marketing

Different Strokes

Article excerpt

Meticulous preparation, co-ordination and local knowledge are essential weapons for companies thinking of entering the minefield that is pan-European PR

Tori Hibbitt, managing director of the Rowland company's Business and Technology Europe division, has a cautionary tale for anyone planning a European press conference.

She once staged a PR extravaganza in Paris for a UK client - "Sorry, no names." About 70 journalists were shipped in from seven European countries. The slides were in place, the hand-outs ready for distribution, the canapes in the fridge - but there was a last-minute hitch that quickly turned into an eleventh-hour nightmare.

The French journalists said that the presentation had to be in French, the German contingent complained vociferously and, after an intense pow-wow, it was agreed the introduction should be done in every language, with the rest of the presentation in English.

But with one obstacle overcome, another soon loomed. There was a problem with the slides and brochure material, which meant they had to be redone. But, since it was a Saturday night, and because it was Paris, there was nowhere to carry out this seemingly simple task. In the event, someone from the company had to accompany the material on a plane back to England - and back to Paris again on the Sunday. The moral? "Never assume, prepare right down to the tiniest details," says Hibbitt.

In contrast to their shining example, when it comes to lobbying, US companies are often the biggest offenders in the mine field that is pan-European PR. "US clients tend to assume Europe is one animal and think PR can be done very quickly," says Hibbitt. "But there are huge differences in style and approach in each European country. You ignore these at your peril."

The Spanish, claims Hibbitt, generally need to be spoon-fed, for example, while the French respond much more readily if approached on an individual basis. …

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