PR in Spain

In a previous post, I wrote a summary about PR in the Philippines, because I grew up there. Now I want to write an overview of PR in Spain.

Why Spain? Well, it’s another country that means so much to me. I’ve been to Spain three times: The first time I visited Spain, I was a little girl, and my parents say that I really enjoyed it even then. I went to Spain a second time for a month-long program in high school and officially fell in love with the country. My third visit to Spain was last year, when I studied abroad in Seville for five months. Studying abroad in Spain was an experience that changed my life and earned Spain a permanent place in my heart.

The beautiful Seville, Spain

So, me encanta España. Now let’s learn about its PR industry…

According to Jenna Joerger, an Illinois State University alum (who, during her college career, was also a PRSSA member!), the Spanish PR industry began pretty late (in the 1950s). After the end of Franco‘s regime and the liberalization of political institutions, Spain was able to finally welcome the arrival of freedom of the press. Spain’s PR industry matured very quickly: The 1960s boasted the growth of a dynamic consumer market in Spain, which led to the birth of many PR agencies.

PR (Spanish: relaciones públicas) firms in Spain have a wide range of clients, from Spanish companies like El Corte Inglés (a department store chain), to American companies like Coca-Cola. With the increase of PR agencies, firms and consultancies, a new professional society emerged in Spain.

Spaniards view the PR industry as an essential part of business (yay!). Consumerism is growing, so corporate identity and transparency has become increasingly more important. The term “public relations” is not used as frequently in Spain as it is in the United States. “Communications” (comunicaciones) is the preferred word to describe PR practices, because the term “public relations” has a negative connotation, a result of a few PR practitioners who associated themselves with superficial activities, such as hosting cocktail parties.

Spanish PR practitioners value close relationships with journalists; media relations, after all, is emphasized as the most important aspect of PR firms and departments in the country. Also, many PR professionals have an educational background in journalism (sounds like PR students at the University of Oregon!). And Spain’s higher education system gives students opportunities to study subjects that will enhance their careers in the PR profession.

The Association of Consulting Companies in Public Relations and Communication (Spanish initials: ADECEC) was created in 1991 and now includes 32 of the largest national and multinational PR agencies that represent 65 percent of the consultancy billings in Spain. Some of these firms include Burson-Marsteller and Hill & Knowlton. Most agencies are located in Madrid and Barcelona (cities considered to be centers for Spanish business). The ADECEC is very similar to the Public Relations Society of America. It provides professional development opportunities by offering seminars, workshops and job banks, and also sets industry standards for ethical practice.

So, there you have it…PR in Spain. I hope this makes you PR people want to go visit! (You’ll love it.)

Hasta luego,

Another UN of PR?

I know, I know. I haven’t blogged in quite awhile. In my defense, finals week sprung out of nowhere and demanded my full attention. And right after finals came spring break, and no, I did not neglect blogging because I was busy partying. I neglected my blog because I was busy job hunting! (Anyone hiring? Teehee.) Indeed, I graduate in two months! How scary…

Let’s not think about that. I’ll get too stressed. Let’s get back to international PR. In this post, I am going to discuss another international PR organization that I feel anyone interested in international PR or communications should be familiar with. This organization is called the International Public Relations Association (IPRA).

Formally constituted in 1955, the IPRA is an organization that was created with the objective of raising standards in the transnational PR industry and improving the quality and efficiency of international PR practitioners. According to its website, the IPRA’s mission is to be “the world’s most relevant, resourceful and influential professional association for senior international public relations executives.”

The IPRA is run by a Board of Directors elected by the IPRA Council. The Board is chaired by a President, also selected by the Council, and operates within a set of Bylaws agreed upon by the Council. Indeed, Board and Council members come from all over the world; on the 2010 Board, for example, one Director was Indonesian, and another British; two were Egyptian and one hailed from Portugal. Indeed, the IPRA boasts members from almost every nation.

Members of the IPRA reap the benefits of services that help them meet their goals and succeed in their careers — professionally, financially and intellectually. Being a member of the IPRA provides you with unsurpassed international networking, international professional credibility, reduced fees and rates at conferences and forums and everyday intellectual challenges. Click here to take a look at the IPRA application.

Well, that’s my spiel on the IPRA. Sounds pretty nifty, huh? Hope you learned something!

Also, forgive me for this, but I’m going to do some shameless self-promoting (because I’m just so excited!): Last term, for one of my PR classes, four students and I produced a video to promote the PR major at the University of Oregon‘s School of Journalism and Communication. This video is now on the University of Oregon YouTube Channel! Click here to watch it! And I hope you enjoy it!

Until next time,

The UN of PR

There's one of these for PR?

Did you know that there’s a United Nations of public relations? Indeed, there’s an international non-governmental organization that builds on the cooperative efforts of large bodies to tackle problems with a global perspective — for PR. I got so excited when I heard about this that I knew I just had to blog about it!

This UN of PR is called the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management. According to its website, the Global Alliance (whose motto is “Leading the PR Profession Globally”) strives “to enhance the public relations profession and its profession around the world” by unifying and linking all PR and communication management associations; providing a framework for discussion and census of professional standards; aiding in member development; being the authoritative global voice on PR matters; and working in the public interest for the benefit of the profession.

Yup. Sounds like a UN of PR to me.

Global Alliance Chairman John Paluszek

The Global Alliance was formally established in Chicago, Ill., in 2000, after a Public Relations World Congress sponsored by the Public Relations Society of America and the International Public Relations Association. More than 20 national and international associations were involved in the founding of this organization.

And what are the benefits of having your association become a member of the Global Alliance? There are quite a few. Your association will

  • Belong to a global network of professional associations, whose key stakeholders include the World Bank and the UN (wow!).
  • Have a voice in the definition of global PR standards.
  • Be able to share information and collaborate with other countries and cultures.
  • Have the opportunity to host international events in your country.
  • Have access to valuable professional resources.

To join, associations must fill out a membership form on the Global Alliance website. The membership fee is somewhere between €150 and €1000, depending on how many members are in any given association.

The Global Alliance logo

In the last decade, the Global Alliance has hosted a Public Relations Festival in Rome (which focused on PR ethics); participated in the World Congress on Communication Development (which was promoted by the United Nations); turned the Global Alliance website into one of the central resources for the online PR community; and established a Global Alliance Center in Switzerland. Pretty cool, huh?

Well, that’s my brief spiel about the Global Alliance. I hope you found it interesting and insightful. If you’re anything like me, you’re really interested in international PR and are keen on learning even more (or sharing what you know) about this international organization. If that’s the case, please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment! I’d love to know who shares my interests.

Oh, and click here to follow the Global Alliance on Twitter!

PR and Economics

Dr. Sriramesh

Oh, economics. Not my favorite subject, but thanks to an article called Globalisation and Public Relations: An Overview Looking Into the Future by communications expert and professor Dr. Krishnamurthy Sriramesh, I now understand its importance when it comes to (yup, you guessed it!) public relations.

The economic system or development level of a country can provide opportunities and challenges to a PR practitioner. In this post, I’m going to summarize Dr. Sriramesh’s recommendations for practicing PR in countries with market and capitalist economies and countries with low development levels. Get ready for an interdisciplinary lesson!

Dr. Sriramesh writes about practicing PR in a market economy. To refresh your memory, a market economy is one based on the division of labor. The prices of goods and services are determined by supply and demand. According to Sriramesh, market economies (like the U.S., Canada and Germany), emphasize “public sector undertakings.” This means that PR practitioners should work with the public sector, or the part of a state that deals with the production, delivery and allocation of goods and services for and by a government and its citizens. Sriramesh says that the government often becomes the “sole public” for PR practitioners.

These things relate to PR more than you may think.

In a capitalist economy, Sriramesh writes, private enterprise, or privately owned businesses, are favored and PR is needed to communicate with multiple players — not just the government. This is because in a capitalist economy, the means of production are owned by private individuals or corporations, instead of government ownership or control. Profit is sent to people who invest in businesses, and wages are paid to workers employed by these businesses.

A capitalist economy is similar to a market economy, but the main difference is that a market economy refers less to the production of wealth and more to how wealth is exchanged. Free markets are a necessary component of capitalism, but the term “free market” is not synonymous with capitalism. Examples of capitalist economies include the U.S. (yes, it falls into both the market economy and capitalist economy categories), Japan and Sweden. So in countries like these, PR practitioners will be working closely with private individuals and businesses — not just the government.

Unfortunately, the majority of the world lives in developing countries — countries with a low level of material well-being. Sriramesh writes that these countries (such as Afghanistan, India and — my home, sadly — the Philippines) prioritize nation-building. PR is a tool used for this. So a PR practitioner in a developing country should not be surprised to find himself or herself involved in development communication, defined as a type of marketing or research designed to develop effective communication to promote social development. One example of a successful development communication campaign was the use of instructional TV in El Salvador to improve primary education. In the 1970s, El Salvador lacked trained teachers, so TV programs were designed to provide kids with the basics they’d need if they wanted to pursue higher education. The programs clearly worked; graduation rates significantly increased.

That’s my brief summary of Sriramesh’s article about economics and PR. Sriramesh (and I!) would like to remind readers that these recommendations for practicing PR in countries with different economies and levels of development are generalizations; by no means are these recommendations hard and fast rules. As I’ve stated in previous blog posts, the real lesson is to proceed with caution when working with a new culture or unfamiliar country. And I think that referring to Sriramesh’s tips can certainly help you out.

Cross-Cultural PR and Language

Neil Payne

In his article Public Relations Across Cultures, Kwintessential’s Managing Director Neil Payne highlights a few key areas to help PR practitioners begin to consider how culture may affect their PR projects.

I want to use this blog post to discuss one of the areas that Payne highlighted: language. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, to succeed as a PR practitioner in a foreign country, it really helps to speak the language. But bilingualism (or multilingualism) isn’t enough. Language is far more complicated than direct translations. Here are some things that Payne thinks PR practitioners need to take into account when working within a culture whose language is different from their own:

The Pinto: A cool car, but not to Brazilians

When Ford launched the “Pinto” in Brazil, the company wondered why sales were dead. They soon found out that to Brazilians, “pinto” means “small male genitals.” No one wants to drive a car that implies small male genitals. The lesson here? Take cultural nuances into account! And not only between languages, but within languages.

Seriously. Even in English, there are cross-cultural differences in meanings. United Airlines headlined an article about Paul Hogan with “Paul Hogan Camps It Up”; in Australia and the UK, “camping it up” means “flaunting sexuality.” Oops. I can’t imagine Paul Hogan was too happy about that…

The Spoken Word.
If your PR tactics involve speaking, keep in mind that speaking styles differ across cultures. British and American communication styles are “explicit,” which means that messages are conveyed primarily through words. Ambiguity is avoided and spoken words are literal. In many other cultures, however, communication is “implicit.” Non-verbal cues and the speaker’s identity are just as important as content.

Speaking of content…speakers must be aware of cross-cultural differences in humor, metaphors, aphorisms and anecdotes.

The Written Word.
Yes, even your written materials will require cross-cultural analysis when you’re applying them abroad. Journalistic traditions, writing styles, delivery systems, newsworthiness and whether a “free press” exists are areas that will affect how you tailor your written tactics.

Think before you write.

You should also remember to write in a way that will engage the readers of that society or culture. Some cultures may prefer emotional and inspirational writing, while others may prefer more factual writing peppered with statistics.

So, as you can see, simply speaking a foreign country’s language will not suffice. If you really want to succeed as a PR practitioner abroad, there’s a lot more to take into account. But if you remember to keep Payne’s ideas in mind during your campaign-building process, you’ll effectively communicate with your target audience while avoiding offense at the same time.

PR in the Philippines

Last week, one of my PR professors, Tiffany Gallicano, lent me a book called International Public Relations: A Comparative Analysis by Hugh M. Culbertson and Ni Chen. We were both really excited when we noticed that chapter 10 is about PR in the Philippines. See, I was born in the Philippines and I lived there until I was 12. It’s my home. 🙂

The Philippines

Because the Philippines means so much to me, I decided to write a brief summary of PR in the Philippines, using the information from this book and my own knowledge of this particular country. Let’s begin with the history of Philippine PR…

The History of Philippine PR
Many Philippine PR practitioners trace their roots back to the 1880s, when the Philippines was seeking colonial reforms from Spain. (Spain colonized the Philippines from 1565-1898.) The writers and activists at the time, including Jose Rizal, who is now considered our foremost national hero, wrote influential works that triggered the Philippine Revolution. According to Culbertson and Chen, this Revolution is widely known as the first successful challenge by an Asian people against their Western colonial masters.

Manila, the capital (and my home)

But the PR industry didn’t blossom in the Philippine archipelago until after Manila (the capital) was liberated from Japanese occupation in 1945. With the return of the Philippine press, and the sudden success of business pages and business sections, several firms were prompted to assign people to handle press relations, and, later, full-fledged PR.

It was a man named Jose A. Carpio who really developed the theory of PR in the Philippines. Carpio, now known as the Father of Philippine PR, saw PR as far more than publicity. He saw it as a planned program of policies and behavior designed to build public confidence in and understanding of an individual or an organization. In 1957, Carpio founded the Public Relations Society of the Philippines. The PRSP would soon singlehandedly spur the growth of Philippine PR through seminars, training programs, workshops, awards, contacts, publications and networking. The organization also introduced a four-year PR curriculum, which was approved by the Ministry of Education and Culture, to several Philippine universities.

PR in Philippine Government
PR has become a very important part of Philippine government. Filipino PR practitioners understand that strategic government PR creates awareness and generates acceptance of public policies and programs. It also projects an image of good, legitimate governance.

Ex-President Ferdinand Marcos

But PR has never been more prominent in Philippine history than during the Marcos years (1965-1986). From the time martial law was declared in 1972 until Marcos’s presidency was forcibly ended in 1986, the government put on a massive and sustained propaganda campaign, locally and worldwide. The emphasis was on ensuring sustained U.S. government and military support.

The success of this campaign was due to Marcos’s well-funded nationwide media structure. The two succeeding governments of Presidents Aquino and Ramos maintained the “monolithic government media and information system” (Culbertson and Chen, 1996). Today, three broadcast networks and a newspaper chain still remain under government control.

The Philippine Anvil Awards
Like the Public Relations Society of America, the PRSP hosts annual Anvil Awards, an awards ceremony that recognizes outstanding programs, projects and PR techniques. The ceremony, according to Culbertson and Chen, is known as the “Oscars of Public Relations.” A campaign to save the Philippine eagle won the coveted Grand Award in 1993.

Culbertson and Chen’s Summary of Philippine PR
According to Culbertson and Chen, PR is a concept from the West that has been transplanted to Asia. But Philippine PR has drawn its sustenance from its own soil. Philippine PR practitioners have been faithful to their culture, making PR in the Philippines relevant to Filipinos — especially when the government is involved. Culbertson and Chen say that Philippine PR is self-propelled, dynamic and professional.

Doesn't this make you want to practice PR in the Philippines?

My Thoughts on Philippine PR
The Philippines is a developing country. Developing countries need hope. As a profession, PR can popularize and crystallize ideologies so that people in developing countries can unite and share common values — and work towards progress and development. The mass media in a developing country like the Philippines, then, need PR practitioners to produce messages and images that inspire, energize and mobilize people toward development. So far, the Philippines has demonstrated that its PR industry is strong and dynamic. Nevertheless, there’s still room for improvement in Philippine PR if the country wants to join the ranks of developed nations. With PR growing as an industry, both in the Philippines and worldwide, I have high hopes for the Philippines. And who knows…maybe one day I’ll have the opportunity to go back home and take part in the Philippines’ successful PR industry.


Hofstede’s Cultural Constructs and PR

To succeed as a PR practitioner in a foreign country, it really helps to speak the language. But bilingualism (or even multilingualism, if you’re really ambitious) isn’t enough. In order to really excel in a foreign country, you’ll need to have a good understanding of that country’s culture.

Mr. Hofstede

The influential Dutch sociologist, Geert Hofstede, recognized the importance of really understanding a culture before working with it. He conducted what is arguably the most comprehensive study of how values in the workplace are influenced by culture. His research demonstrated that there are national and regional cultural groupings that affect the behavior of societies, and that these are persistent across time. From this research, Hofstede developed five major cultural constructs, which I want to share with anyone involved or interested in international PR (or even international business). But before I (briefly) summarize each of these constructs, I want my readers to know that I just learned about Hofstede’s cultural dimensions over the weekend (thanks to a very captivating book called International Public Relations by UO’s professor Pat Curtin and Elon University’s T. Kenn Gaither), so by no means am I an expert! These are my explanations of Hofstede’s cultural constructs and how I think they will be helpful for international PR practitioners.

And so, without further ado, Hofstede’s five cultural constructs

Power Distance Index (PDI) is how much the less powerful members of a country expect and accept that power is distributed unevenly. Power and equality are fundamental factors in any society; as Hofstede says, “All societies are unequal, but some are more unequal than others.” According to Curtin and Gaither, in high-power distance cultures (e.g., Malaysia), practitioners can benefit from more coercive communication strategies; in low-power distance cultures (e.g., Ireland), however, rewards or premiums prove more effective.

Individualism describes how much members of a culture define themselves apart from their group memberships. Individualist cultures (e.g., the U.S., which scored 91 on Hofstede’s individualism scale) emphasize individual goals and accomplishments. People in these cultures tend to think of themselves as individuals, distinct from other people. They prefer clarity in their conversations to communicate more effectively and like to get directly to the point — something PR practitioners should keep in mind when working with individualist cultures. Individualism is the opposite of collectivism, which emphasizes the interdependence of every human in some collective group and the group’s goals over individual goals. According to Curtin and Gaither, Asia is a largely collectivist culture; most Asians prioritize community and family.

In individualist cultures (e.g., the U.S.), people like to think they're different from everybody else.

Masculinity refers to the gender roles in a culture. In “masculine” cultures (e.g., the U.S., Germany), people value competition, ambition, assertiveness and wealth. In “feminine” cultures (e.g., Spain, Thailand), people value relationships and quality of life. PR practitioners should keep in mind that in a masculine culture, a direct, concise and unemotional communication will be most effective. In a feminine culture, on the other hand, trust is of the utmost importance and weighs more than, say, projected profit margins, according to Kwintessential.

Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) is a culture’s tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity. In other words, it indicates to what extent a culture prepares its members to feel comfortable in unstructured situations. Brazil, for example, a country that is high in uncertainty avoidance, avoids ambiguity at all costs. Curtin and Gaither advise practitioners to hire local firms and acquire local sponsors for PR campaigns in countries like Brazil.

Long-Term Orientation (LTO) measures the importance a society attaches to the future, versus the past and present. In high long-term oriented cultures (e.g., China), future rewards are emphasized; perseverance and thrift are paramount. Cultures with low long-term orientation focus on virtues related to the past and the present, such as tradition, immediate stability and social obligations (e.g., Bangladesh). In a long-term oriented culture, then, PR practitioners need to understand the value of long-term commitments and extend their PR plans far into the future. PR practitioners in a low long-term oriented culture should remember that people want results almost immediately. Also, in low long-term oriented cultures, change tends to occur more rapidly, because long-term commitments do not get in the way.

Keep in mind that these constructs are generalizations. Just because Germany, for example, is a masculine culture doesn’t mean that Germans do not value relationships and quality of life. “Five constructs,” Curtin and Gaither say, “aren’t enough to summarize a culture.” The real lesson for PR practitioners is to proceed with caution when working with an unfamiliar culture.

Well, I hope my brief summary of Hofstede’s five cultural constructs helps anyone involved or interested in international PR. Thanks to Curtin and Gaither, I know I certainly learned something new! Oh, and if you want to see how your country scored among Hofstede’s five cultural constructs, click here!

Hello, Blogosphere!

Welcome to my blog! You should know that this is my very first blog, so please cut me some slack as I try not to embarrass myself on the Internet. As a senior at the University of Oregon, I’m still a PR rookie, but I hope that this blog can serve as a forum in which PR professionals, PR students, and I, Sarah Sullivan, can share PR knowledge with one another and generate insightful discussions pertaining to this growing industry.

It's a small world, after all...

It's a small world, after all...

This blog will examine global and cross-cultural PR. The reason I’ve chosen this particular topic is because of my lifelong exposure to (and appreciation for) different cultures. I’ve lived in three countries; I was born and raised in the Philippines, spent my teen years in the Bay Area, and studied abroad in Seville, Spain, in 2010. (I currently live in Eugene, Ore.) My mother is Filipina and my father is Irish-American, so even at home, I experience many notable cultural contrasts. With this blog, I’ll be combining my passion for PR and my appreciation for cultural differences to discuss PR practices in different countries and to discuss how to create effective multicultural messages.

This is me.

This is me.

Needless to say, I’m studying PR at the University of Oregon. I’m also majoring in Spanish. Outside of the classroom, I do part-time PR work at an inspiring nonprofit called DanceAbility International; I’m an account executive at the UO’s student-run PR agency, Allen Hall Public Relations; and I write for the UO Romance Languages departmental website. Aside from PR, my passions include traveling, listening to music, writing and exploring the world of social media. I take grammar, punctuation, AP style — and eating a good breakfast every day — very seriously.

If you’re still reading, I thank you, wholeheartedly, for your continued interest in this post. Don’t hesitate to leave me a comment and join in on the conversation. I hope you enjoy my blog!