December 10, 2014

International PR? Yes please!

flags Naturally, large corporations want to distribute their PR work worldwide. Most of them do this with the help of PR agencies. Medium-sized enterprises are more hesitant in this regard. Perhaps, to them, it seems as if the efforts and costs are too high? Many don’t realise that, aside from the domestic PR work, there are also different international agency models. It is noteworthy to take a closer look at the market and to choose the most appropriate model.

Agency models for the international PR work

In essence there are two popular models:

– International network agencies (“one-agency” model)
– International agency networks (“best-of-breed-agency” model)

International network agencies are the major agencies in the industry, such as Weber Shandwick or Edelman. Their worldwide branches take over the implementation of a company’s international PR strategy in its respective country. Network agencies usually operate in a centralised way, i.e. they are controlled by a lead agency. At the same time, this is their greatest advantage. As a customer you buy a brand name, an agency culture and a widely standardised price model. Messages and measures are centrally defined and localised in the countries. Apart from the fact that international network agencies are situated in the high cost region, I believe they have one major disadvantage: If a country’s agency does not deliver the results expected by the client, then the replacement of this agency, for example, is very complicated and comes at a great expense.

International agency networks such as Whiteoaks International Network (which we are part of), PR-Comm or Globalcom are a consortium mostly made up of local, owner-managed PR agencies. Our approach is a “best-of-breed”, in which we want to offer the client the best possible agency for the respective country. Even international agency networks can be controlled centrally through a lead agency. The pricing and reporting, just like with network agencies, are also standardised. It goes without saying that company messages are distributed on a global scale. The advantage of this model lies in its flexibility. If it doesn’t work out with one of the country’s agencies, then a new one can be found relatively fast. At least in the bigger countries, the agency networks have many alternatives that can quickly integrate themselves into the system.

The model is also a solution if there are already good agency relations in several countries that one doesn’t want to give up in favour of new international networks. In any case, it is certainly worthwhile to talk to your agency about the possibilities of international PR.

Making a decision based on budget and feeling

To select the right agency network, it’s best to make that decision based on the available budget and consider which of the above models is most suitable. The next step would be to exchange experiences with colleagues. Afterwards, you should talk to your own agency, and an agency that represents a different model, about what an international collaboration could look like. Check all the possibilities on the basis of your own defined catalogue of tasks. This might appear uncreative, but will help you to compare costs.

The choice of an agency is also a matter of feeling. It comes down to you and whether talking to different agencies is your basis of decision-making, or whether you base your decision on a pitch.

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