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Is it such a small world after all?

By Rachel Mitchell

With the prevalence of technology and high-speed transport the world can sometimes feel very small. We can speak to people on the other side of the world at the click of a button. If I left my desk now (just post-lunch) I could be in Paris by dinner time.

Whilst this has transformed how we live, when it comes to PR it can also lead to a misconception that ‘one size fits all’. The world may be ‘shrinking’, but that doesn’t mean we’re all the same.

International PR, and the differences in how we work with people in different countries, offer great examples. Some of these are simple, practical variations in working practices. On the continent, for example, article length is generally measured by the number of characters, not by the number of words as we tend to do here in the UK. In France, the lunch hour remains sacred (quite rightly, in my opinion), and my French colleagues tend to find the hours between 11am and 2pm most challenging when trying to reach contacts.

In the UK and France, if you are skilled/lucky enough to contact the right journalist at the right time with the right story, it can be published online in a matter of minutes. German journalists, on the other hand, like to plan well in advance. One German colleague contacted a print publication in December last year and was politely offered a slot in a 2018 issue. Swedish printed publications operate in a similar way too.

When talking to UK journalists, we take a lot of time over building and cultivating relationships (“How was your weekend?”, “Did you have a nice holiday” etc etc). Similarly, my Spanish colleagues chat away to journalists as if they’re old friends. In France and Germany, there’s rarely time for these niceties. This is nothing to do with manners it’s simply good efficiency.

Augmented and virtual reality are highlighted as the next big technology trends to hit the workplace. Certainly, anything that enables us to work more flexibly, collaboratively and productively gets my vote. But as we convene in this brave, new, increasingly digitalised world, it would be a mistake to think that cultural preferences and perceptions have been eroded. In fact, experience tells us the opposite is true.