Archive | International PR RSS feed for this section

On stereotypes and generalisations

25 Jun

Prepare for a blitzkrieg of tabloid headlines in advance of the England-Germany World Cup game on Sunday. It's a dangerous game, because it risks masking some truths such as the surprising youth of the German squad when compared with England's ageing team. 

Stereotypes may originate in accurate observations, but they tend to slip further from the truth over time. Take this from an otherwise excellent US textbook on Global Public Relations: 'The British respect authority and rank' (p269). That was right fifty years ago – but it's surely wrong today.

I know, there was a big fuss at Wimbledon when the Queen visited for the first time since 1977 and the players had to practise their bows and their curtseys. But this may be the exception – or it could describe our love of the picturesque (Walter Bagehot described royalty as the dignified part of our system of government, as distinct from the efficient part).

I've recently spent two weeks being addressed with unaccustomed formality by a group of postgraduate students from the US. They seemed determined to give me a title, while I'm used to my students calling me by my first name.

This group made excellent ambassadors. Punctual, courteous, well-read, literate, intelligent, curious and culturally-sensitive. Could I have started out with my own false stereotype?

Pan-European PR

20 Apr

Bolognablog I'm researching some case studies and inviting expert opinions for a class I'm teaching this summer.

One of the assignments – which can't be researched in any textbook – involves proposing a suitable PR and comms network for a US technology startup newly arrived in Europe.

  • Where to place the headquarters?
  • Where else to locate team members?
  • Which languages are essential?
  • What combination of in-house and consultancy expertise would you recommend?
  • Which PR and comms specialisms are vital at the outset?

I'll be approaching some of the larger PR consultancy networks to hear what advice they can offer, but I'm happy to listen to a range of opinions on the topic – and would welcome your input (in public or in private) via:

  • Documents or slides
  • Video or audio interviews
  • Hyperlinks to online content

I'm also recording contributions from country and regional PR experts (practitioners and academics) and am collecting the thoughts of some European thought leaders in public relations research.

Google in China

23 Mar

Tinananmen square google Google's move into China was justified on business grounds, though the company's idealistic 'don't be evil' motto suffered through the compromise of delivering censored search results.

But at least the censoring was made apparent to Chinese web users, and among the many obligations imposed on business, obeying the laws of the land is an important one.

Now Google has moved its Chinese search engine to Hong Kong, where search results are currently uncensored. Google is winning the PR war at this stage (by publishing information on the extent of any blocking), though the Chinese authorities have shown that they're acutely aware of their international reputation – and they've shown that they're learning lessons in public relations. It will be interesting to see what their next move is.

More openness or more control? And what role do the many thousands of Chinese students studying in the west play: they can be powerful international advocates for their government, or useful intermediaries in a potential clash of cultures.

My PR books of the year 2009

16 Dec

Here's my end-of-year list of the most notable books I've read about – or relevant to – public relations this year. (For the record, here's my list from the year before).

In truth, I've found much less to be excited about this year and it's perhaps telling that my top two are both updates of books first published around a decade ago. But the primary emphasis on PR and social media with a secondary emphasis on global public relations does fairly reflect developments in our industry.

  1. Cluetrain  The Cluetrain Manifesto, Tenth Anniversary Edition, Doc Searls et al. Yes, we all now know that 'markets are conversations'. But it took the Cluetrain authors to come up with the most cogent critique of their own work: markets are also transactions – and relationships. A thought-provoking addition to the original manifesto (still freely available online). Sadly, it lacked further analysis of public relations, which claims to be the discipline which manages relationships (see next book). (Also see my review.)
  2. Online Public Relations, David Phillips and Philip Young. For this much improved second edition, the UK's internet PR maven David Phillips was joined by university lecturer Philip Young. Together, they have written a sophisticated and challenging book in which PR is conceptualised as relationship optimisation. (See my review.)
  3. Global Public Relations: Spanning Borders, Spanning Cultures, Alan Freitag and Ashli Quesinberry Stokes. What good timing! In the depths of a recession precipitated by failures in the financial system, and with doubts about the extent of western imperium, this was just the time to bring out a book challenging the anglo-centric view of public relations. An important academic text. (See my review.)
  4. Communications and behaviour change, Mairi Budge and others. This freely available and well-designed electronic booklet comes from the UK government's Central Office of Information. It draws on psychology to address the tough question surrounding communications for social good: how to get people to change their behaviour.
  5. Personal Reputation Management: Making the internet work for you, Louis Halpern and Roy Murphy. A practical guide, not an academic text, but it's not without concepts and an understanding of history. This book usefully applies branding principles to personal reputation, and search engine optimisation techniques to an individual's online presence. (See my review.)

London is the global home of PR – Edelman

14 Dec

It’s fascinating to read an outsider (admittedly, though, one with an inside track) writing about another country.

In reflecting on 40 years in London, Richard Edelman has summarised the state of the nation well. (He’s right about a slight shift in the transatlantic relationship, but he’s wrong to assume that this makes Gordon Brown a pro-European as this week’s news has shown.) Edelman writes:

London has become the home of global public relations. As the most open capital market, with proximity to centers of new wealth, multinational work force and tradition of creative excellence, it has a size of PR industry far disproportionate to its economic rank and the number of global company headquarters. The Olympic Games in 2012 will further solidify its position. It will be interesting to observe the upcoming clash of ideology between those who believe that the country’s destiny is as capital of the world versus those who give priority to preservation of a national identity, centered around the economic debate of free market versus fair society.

What’s Ukrainian for PR?

22 Jun

I won’t enter the PR Week v PR Business debate. But I will praise a sophisticated analysis of public relations in Ukraine in PR Business (22 June 2006, pp 16-17 – website still not up).

The post-Soviet era development of the public relations industry is described by Martin Nunn. It’s a bleak picture to date, perfectly illustrating Kevin Moloney’s argument in Rethinking Public Relations: PR propaganda and democracy. ‘The more distance between journalists and PR people, the better for a liberal democracy. PR grows out of democracy, not democracy out of PR.’

In Ukraine, Nunn argues, ‘what had started out as the promising voice of democracy rapidly turned into cheap, unbranded advertising disguised as journalism.’ But there are reasons to be optimistic: the modern nation’s still a teenager and there are high levels of adult literacy. He is a strong advocate for ethical public relations practice and there are signs that it is taking hold in Ukraine.