David Landis, intrepid LCI honcho here with some musings following the spring gathering of our 42 public relations affiliates worldwide, all members of Public Relations Global Network (www.prgn.com).
For most of my professional life, I’ve heard the mantra: “PR is at its heart, local.” And yet, after meeting my PR global affiliates in Brussels recently, it’s evident to me that in today’s economy, if you’re not global, you can’t compete.
So which is it? Global or local?
Kind of both.
PR still has to know and understand its audiences, its goals and its targeted communications channels. To do that, I’ve learned from my worldwide PR colleagues, you need an expert who knows and understands the local landscape. Frank Cullen, of Cullen Communications in Ireland, said something that has stuck with me for many years: “I would never think that I could do a great campaign in the United Kingdom.” At the time, being the boastful American I am, I wondered why not. Well, mainly because even though both the Irish and the English speak the same language, they have completely different cultures.
And yet, technology has created a borderless world in which communication happens instantaneously. So to stay competitive, a PR professional is has to offer clients the ability – with hands-on integrity – to infiltrate international markets successfully.
One example is LCI client Lotus Bakeries, based in Belgium. We are helping them launch new products here in the U.S., but we’re also introducing them to our PR affiliate, Francine Robbens of PRP in Belgium to help them in Europe.
Marc Destito, of our new member agency in Switzerland (Cabinet Prive de Conseils (CPC)), has conceived a program tentatively called “Gateway to Europe.” It’s really about helping clients on both sides of the pond know and understand how to do business in respective markets. Great idea, Marc. We’ll be helping you launch it on the West Coast in the U.S.
Since our last spring meeting, PRGN has a new President (Francine Robbens, Brussels) and a new President-elect (Mark Paterson, Melbourne, Australia). To continue to be competitive, we have added three new agencies: Cabinet Prive de Conseils in Geneva, YESwecan in Paris and LVBA in Sao Paulo.
I’m proud that LCI has for five years now been part of PRGN, an august group of PR professionals whose work is among the best in the business. Being a part of PRGN has helped LCI win business. But it’s also a network populated by people I know and call my friends. I’m humbled by the expertise as well as the hospitality of our members. Some examples? My daily “please help me” calls to the ever-smart Anne Buchanan of Philadelphia-based Buchanan Public Relations. Or our recent pitch – and win – to represent Cartridge World with Boston’s The Castle Group. My favorite though was on this recent trip to Europe. Uwe Schmidt of Industrie-Contact in Germany took me on a personal tour of the Reichstag in Berlin (his business partner is in the Parliament) and then opened his home to my partner and me so we could share a homemade cake with his wife and sons.
Now that’s global – gone local. And let me tell you, that cake was delicious!
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