Thursday, March 23, 2006

International PR Is Broken

We recently completed a survey (with our friends at Launch Pad) which asked scores of marketers within big companies about their experiences with international PR programming. We have our own thoughts and strategies for global PR coordination, and we wanted to take the pulse of our prospective clients about whether they were happy with the status quo...

Newsflash: they ain't happy.

Right now there are 2 basic models for global PR:

Global Network - "Flip a switch and all the pins on the map light up" - this is a glib way of describing the approach of the worldwide PR conglomerates, who promise seamless, country-to-country consistency.

Sounds swell, but, most of these conglomerates were created via acquisitions, and each country office typically runs its own P&L: so the reality is that these regional agencies have different corporate cultures and are competing with their inter-regional sister agencies for client budget.

Best-Of-Breed Network - "We found the best firms for you in each geography!" - this approach was created by independent firms to combat the so-called advantages of the Global Network model. The small, independent network of firms offers local-market experts who know their culture and media landscape inside-out. However, if you're a busy corporate PR exec overseeeing a global PR program, you're stuck managing multiple agencies in multiple regions.

So if you're an agency person who touts either of these models, your clients have news for you: neither approach is working.

According to our survey, fully 2/3rds of the clients who now engage in international PR programs reported that their international colleagues and global agencies "don’t properly adhere to a single strategy." A lack of effective two-way communication raised these marketers' concerns about "inconsistent messaging and branding."

We've got tri-band cellphones, find-me/follow-me VOIP services, email, IM, SMS, intranets & extranets & blogs ... but when it comes to effectively coordinating an international PR program, agencies and clients are still not able to communicate.

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