15 May 2007

Oh no, een France, you cannot do zis….

European PR, eh? It’s not like real PR. In fact, it’s generally done by those rubbish PRs that can’t handle the real world. The “I don’t talk to journalists brigade,” who always make sure their first call of the morning is “to the client.”

Splendid puppetmasters, too frightened of failure to do anything themselves. So they forward various emails, suggesting that other people do things. If it goes right, it’s great consultancy on their part. If it goes wrong, it’s a country-level problem that they will sort out by jumping of their white horse...and asking someone behind the scenes to sort out.

If they're so good at all things European, how come they hardly ever speak a second language?


European charlatans aside, the UK is surely the toughest PR market in the world. Granted, American PR involves fewer holidays, earlier starts and less alcohol. But it also has much larger budgets, which easily support the excessive monitoring, analysis and reporting demands. Contrast that to the UK. Ridiculous expectations, clients so far away from HQ that they don’t actually know what’s going on, and a crazy belief that the reporting, analysis and general fannying around will be achieved within an absurdly small retainer.

The most notable difference, of course, is that while there are a huge number of publications in the US, the journalists there listen and the general tone – at least for the B2B sector – is earnest. Product news releases get covered in the US trades. And they like tame Q&As with senior execs.

Not the stuff El Reg, Inquirer and the like are interested in. Not even the more sober (figuratively...or not) – and advertising conscious – Computings and Computer Weeklies of the world will go for that. Indeed, the reason we suffer such a turgid supply of crap from our US clients is because their media doesn’t generally demand end-user examples, business cases and proof points.

And as for mainland Europe…have you seen the crap they get away with? Full page profiles of the newly appointed marketing director. Quarter page articles on the opening of a new office. Ever tried getting an answer from an Italian PR person after 2pm? Ever had a French PR say, “yeah, no problem, we can pretty much translate that and knock it out the door.”

Ever even spoken to a Spanish PR?

Underpaid, over-worked and shit weather. It’s the best PR education you’ll ever get but...like private school...you’ll get fucked up the arse while you're learning.


Anonymous said...

Spot on

trombone said...

Having spent over seven years doing this and other similar shite over in France - couldn't agree more... The most insignificant problems (shortage of paperclips?)are caused by the current government - and the only possible solution is to discuss it for at least a week.

ct said...

Absolutely spot on, except the client stuff... Don't think that we don't have the same crap with the "International"-I-only-speak-one-language-and-that's-English PR folks breathing down our necks, monitoring and picking holes in everything we do simply because the "international" people they report to only speak English themselves. They forward emails to all and sundry adding no value whatsoever. And press releases - I don't send them for "approval" to have commas added; I want to know a) whether this should be distributed internationally and/or b) whether a small modification might be needed to get coverage in other countries but I am a good corporate citizen operating in the interests of the wider company.
What I don't want is people interfering with the UK PR agency I pay for, pitching features twice over, annoying journalists, all because some wretched international english speaking VP can only read his coverage if it is in Computing.


Sorry, rant over. But I do hope various "European" teams are reading this and taking notes. Your job, in my humble opinion, is international messaging and content creation, based on a modicum of knowledge of what will float in various INTERNATIONAL (read, not just UK) media. Full stop.

PS - could have done with the underline and italics features for this post.

Anonymous said...

Fortunately, I went to a comprehensive, so my arse is still intact.

Like the first anon said - spot on.

ct said...

Typo - my "but I'm a good corporate citizan..." should have said "because....".

I should have had a European PR bod to proof my work clearly. They are quite good at spotting that sort of thing I'll grant.

(They probably would have also pointed out that after saying "Rant over", I then proceed for another x lines. Bloody robots.

Anonymous said...

As far as I remember, doing European PR meant spending days and weeks organising unbelievably logistically complex pan-European press events in foreign cities, to which the country PR people would rock up with their journalists, proceed to get righteously pissed with them, fall in the Trevi fountain for no good reason, fail to attend any of my lovingly organised press briefings, and then fuck off home with an almighty hangover, leaving me and my long-suffering colleagues to dismantle everything again.

Great days.

ct said...

Yes, very logistically complex and painful, and if only European PR folks would stick to that (which most pull off quite successfully) then we'd all be happy*. Unfortunately that only accounts for a few months of a year (for most accounts under 500k gbp, which is the majority) and the rest of the time they just piss everyone off.

* And messaging and content creation, as per my previous. Here, I've written you a job description.....!

Anonymous said...

Ah, ct, I see what you mean, and I completely agree with you, but I was in-house at a great big company, so the cycle of events, briefings and exec tours of the provinces was actually endless.

Note to TWL: I do speak four European languages, though. (Ooh, get me!)

Andrew Smith said...

The following phrases are all you need for international PR:

Deux bieres, s'il vous plait
Zwei bier, bitte
Dos cervezas, por favor
To ol, tak

Or go here: