Is public relations the same the world over or are there significant differences in from country to country. For example do PROs find it easy to move between the US and the UK?
Britain and the States have always shared common values; historically the two countries are closely aligned. Whether you are watching a repeat of Friends, or grabbing a Starbucks coffee, the cultures seem similar. But when it comes to PR, what are the significant differences in how companies on either side of the Atlantic operate?
Dennis L Wilcox, author of Public Relations Strategies & Tactics, says that that PR practices are not only the same in the UK and the US, they are the same globally. He explains: “The principles and basic concepts of effective public relations are the same around the world. There’s still a focus on media relations in all nations, but practitioners around the globe are getting much more sophisticated about managing issues, crisis communications, CSR, social media, and even the metrics of measurement.”
Rebecca Southern, account director at PR agency Edelman, has worked both in London and in New York. She agrees that, basically, PR work in a large agency is the same in both nations. Rebecca took a five-month placement to the New York office and she was surprised at how alike working in the US is to working here. “The first thing that struck me when I started working in New York was actually how similar the day-to-day activity was when compared to my role in London. The processes, strategy and tactics underpinning client programmes were much the same.”
Day-to-day life may be similar for PROs working in the New York or London office of a large consultancy, but the differences between the British and Americans start to come to light when working with clients and with the media. Here there are important differences, both culturally and logistically. Because of its size of America, there is a huge range of communities, in terms of consumer tastes and therefore media consumption. Andy Barr, co-founder of PR agency 10 Yetis. He has experienced marked contrasts when working across the Atlantic. “The sheer geographic size difference between the USA and the UK means that where you can use generic press releases nationally over here it simply won’t work in America, they need to be really tailored state by state.”
Apart from its size, there is a great deal that the UK shares with America, which is why UK PROs find it relatively easy to cross over, and vice versa. However, the differences between us should not be discounted.