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.
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.)