As our goal is to deliver ‘leadability’ for international organisations, and the market momentum that goes with it, in the Central & Eastern Europe (CEE) region, we have prepared a short guide on factors to take into account if you want to build lasting relationships with the media for your organisation or brand.
CEE is a diverse mix of countries stretching East from Germany and Austria and South from the Nordic countries. Each country has its own language, history and culture. It is essential to tailor your actions to the requirements of the country, but we have identified some themes that apply to more than one. We hope you find the tips helpful.
1. Make Your First Contact Personal
It’s essential to make your first contact with journalists in the region a direct personal outreach. Relying on news wires will not work.
It therefore makes sense to use local agencies led by local managers and owners who have personal relationships with your target media, influencers and opinion leaders. You can either go market by market or you can search for an individual hub agency that will manage the other agencies, or to create regional agency coverage within The Worldcom PR Group.
Local agencies not only have a better grasp of the local media and communication landscape, but also know all the DOs and DONTs for any type of client or brand given to promote.
2. Don’t Default to English
Each country in the CEE region has its own native language and it is essential to communicate in that language when addressing journalists – certainly on the first occasion. If the first email is in English, it will probably not be opened.
We strongly recommend you use a translator for the first contact and to create a relationship with the journalists. When you get a response, it may be possible to send additional content in English.
3. Plan Budget According to Sub-region Levels
The fee budget required varies by country. We have provided a guide below.
If, for example, you have a budget of 3 000 EUR for a scope of work in Germany, you will need the following average budget in each country for the same scope of work:
- About 2 000 EUR for Poland, Czechia and Russia
- About 1 500 EUR for Slovakia and Hungary
- About 1 000 EUR for Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Croatia
4. Be Realistic About Your Media Coverage Expectations
Two countries offer well developed media relations markets similar to Western Europe – the Czech Republic and Poland. The other countries in the Region offer a lower number of traditional print media and business magazines (less than ten). The reason behind is that the media are concentrated under only a few media houses causing complication in the case of organic media coverage. Therefore, the other countries mainly use online media and are more active in blog posts, podcasts and social media.
5. Create Impetus by Attending Events
If you want build business and brand momentum in the CEE Region, one of the ways that works is to attend appropriate conferences and shows. Most of the big events are pan-European – IFA in Berlin, World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, Web Summit in Germany, Krynica Congress, Geneva International Motor Show, or many others.
In general, we do not recommend attending local conferences, but instead to search for the events in Western Europe. You can be sure that Eastern European buyers will be there.
6. Early Adopters
For those who are not familiar with the term, early adopters refer to countries that adopt new innovations in any field faster than others. The Baltic countries are known as early adopters that have developed government and their level of development is comparable to Northern countries. For instance, Romanians are early adopters. On the other side, Czechs are more conservative in general, yet early adopters when it comes to startups. This is one of all specifics that need to be reflected also in the way you communicate within each state.
7. Plan for Cultural Differences
The CEE Region can be split into different cultural types when it comes to an approach to life and work. Polish, Slovakia and Hungarian people are culturally closer and more conservative that the Czechs, who are close to Western culture. The Baltic states tend to have similarities with the Nordic countries.
It is not always possible to effectively adapt global strategy on the local level. Therefore, it is crucial to have a local partner who knows the landscape, to team up with them and build a real mechanism to create a local bond and connection.
8. Don’t Be Late
One common attitude across the Region is a preference for punctuality. Throughout the region punctuality is very important and regarded as a sign of reliability. While 15 minutes grace will be offered, arriving late is definitely frowned upon.
9. Get an Accurate View About Perceived Prejudices in the Region
Although Eastern Europeans have a reputation for being xenophobic and having low acceptance levels for the LGBT community, refugees and gender equality, the reality is very different.
There are many women in leadership positions in companies and women are active in politics. LGBT communities are generally respected with the possible exceptions of Poland, Russia, Slovakia and Hungary.Refugees became more of a political problem than a public problem since the public has no problem with them.
10. Be Prepared for Very Different Behaviour from Journalists in Different Countries
Journalist behaviour varies across the Region and can be very different from the respectful style adopted by most US journalists. For example, at a press conference Polish journalists will ask multiple questions and could appear pushy. Czech journalists on the other hand will stay silent and may appear disinterested. The opposite is usually the case as they prefer to listen during the press conference and ask questions later on.