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Global Alliance: International Resource For National PR Societies

Global AllianceThroughout the world, public relations practitioners belong to professional associations to share information and PR best practices with each other. About 12 years ago, six of the largest of these national organizations came together to form an association of these national organizations: the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management (informally known as the Global Alliance). This group has grown to encompass 77 professional associations in 65 countries on 5 continents. (That's a lot of buzz, in any language!)

Bridge interviewed the Global Alliance's immediate past chair, John Paluszek, Senior Counsel at Ketchum, about the organization, its activities and the benefits it offers the 160,000+ PR professionals who belong to Global Alliance's affiliated associations around the world.

Examples of value that the Global Alliance has brought to the profession, according to Paluszek, include:

  • A global protocol on public relations ethics
  • Management training for the member associations
  • Research on public relations credentials
  • Global public relations curriculum study
  • Establishment of a World Public Relations Forum (the next will be in Madrid in 2014)
  • A series of webinars on various aspects of the profession
  • A newsletter and website

Paluszek noted that the member associations of Global Alliance learn from each other and members of the profession can learn from observing colleagues in other countries. "In Canada, the credentialing system for professionals is really top notch, for example. The Chinese learned how best to present their nation, thanks to the Olympics. Everywhere I go, I see some example of public relations or of public relations association management that we can learn from."

He referred to the current state of the world: recovering from the worst global economic meltdown in 70 years, trying to achieve consensus on climate change, and dealing with a lack of trust in many kinds of organizations and institutions that public relations people serve.

"There was never a better time for public relations professionals all over the world, operating at the interface between their organizations and society, to share new research, best practices and evaluation of outcomes," he said.

Topics: ethics, World Public Relations Forum, public relations research, International public relations, John Paluszek, PR associations

The New PR Initiative: Nation Branding

The world has seen firsthand the effects of this global downturn: job losses are high, and foreign direct investment is low. Governments around the world are scrambling to rebuild economic strength, which is tied not only to tourism and direct investment from abroad but also to status as an international power. So how does a country attempt to reshape its global image? It hires a public relations team.

146Over the past decade the term "nation branding" has emerged in the public relations industry's lexicon of image consulting and brand awareness terminology. Countries ranging from Australia to South Korea and the United States have all begun to initiate PR campaigns, hoping to communicate an attractive global image that will attract business, tourism and investors. Just as businesses rely on PR professionals to manage their reputations and foster relationships with the public, customers, the government and other groups that are important to them, countries are starting to turn to PR to manage their "brands" as well.

International 'best country brand' competitions have emerged as a result of work done in this area. Two prominent research polls, Nation Brand Index and the Country Brand Index (CBI), have emerged as the experts at ranking countries' brands on criteria such as standard of living, technology and tourism. For example, according to CBI 2008 world rankings, Australia leads the globe on the overall CBI ranking, followed by Canada and then the United States. However, the U.S. is #1 in the "Ideal for Business" category.

Perhaps the most interesting effect of the trend towards nation branding is a greater global reliance on public relations. South Korea, Finland and Hungary, to name a few, are all hiring PR consultants to help with global branding and marketing communications. Nation branding takes the idea of niche marketing to a new level. Countries with only a few major assets to promote to the rest of the world are seeing the benefits of positioning themselves in a particular niche and then initiating a global PR campaign to communicate that branding - for example, as a "luxury hotspot" for tourism, a paradise for honeymooners, or as a major business hub.

Business Etiquette '101' Helps in International Public Relations

Traveling overseas on business can mean experiencing cultures with unfamiliar etiquette. In a business setting, the distinction between what is forbidden versus what is acceptable may be unclear. Although most business people do not expect foreign travelers to understand their cultures, it doesn't hurt to know the basics. In international public relations, knowing Busines Etiquette 101 helps even if you're not traveling anywhere.  Below are international etiquette tipsinternational business etiquette for a few countries to impress your foreign business associates:

Germany: celebrating your birthday abroad? In Germany, you host your own birthday party and are expected to bring cakes and drinks to work to treat your business colleagues.

United Arab Emirates (UAE): Because the UAE is officially a Muslim country, alcoholic beverages are only served in licensed hotels. Even in a hotel that serves alcohol, out of courtesy to your hosts, either forego the wine or drink with moderation.

Malaysia: Refrain from wearing yellow to formal dinners-this color is reserved for royalty only.

Japan: After-hours socializing is a big part of how the Japanese build business relationships; so plan on going out to dinner every night of your stay!

Topics: international travel, international etiquette, international customs, international business

PR Pros Still Prefer Traditional Media Outreach

With the rise in popularity of social networking sites such as FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter, the longevity of traditional communications tools for PR, such as phone calls, becomes uncertain. Will email suddenly be too cumbersome for reaching journalists? Are sites like Twitter just a fad? Bridge decided to conduct a short survey of 100 PR professionals via email to ask which communications tools they find most effective for media outreach. This is what we found:

143

  • 91% surveyed said they use email most frequently, followed by 53% who said they use the phone most often.
  • When asked which tool they find most successful when making first contact with a journalist:
    • 95% said email
    • 46% said phone
    • 2.3% said Twitter

    144

  • 89% said email will be the preferred method in five years
  • 38% said the phone will be the preferred method in five years
  • Although email is still predicted to be the most prominent communication tool in the future, 16.2% did say that Twitter would be the future tool of choice.
  • Not shown on the chart, 13.6% of professionals surveyed between the ages of 45 and 65 said that in five years the preferred communication method will be a tool not yet invented.

In Conclusion: Don't delete those phone numbers and emails in your digital "rolodex" just yet. "Perhaps we should have asked whether we will need to do traditional media outreach at all in the future," reflected Bridge's president, Lucy Siegel. "Some people say we will we be directing our messages to the public - to individuals, via social media - in the future, rather than through the traditional media. However, I believe that traditional journalists will always play an important role."

Topics: social media, media outreach

Spotlight on PR in Spain

An interview with Rosalía del Río, Associate Director of Mind the Gap Comunicación in Madrid

Rosalía del RíoBridge: Can you give us an overview of the Spanish media? Does Spain have a media capital?

Rosalía del Río: Roughly 80% of Spain's national media are based in Madrid, with a few in Barcelona. We also have more local media in Spain's different regions: Andalucía (Grupo Joly), Galicia (Grupo Voz) and Basque Country (Grupo Correo). Public relations work is easier with the regional media because the national media is much more competitive in terms of getting coverage.

Bridge: Spain's press was largely controlled by the government until the 1970s. How much freedom does the press in Spain have today?

R. del Río: We live in a democracy and the press has been totally free since 1975.

Bridge: Spain has over 100 daily newspapers. How do you decide which papers to contact with client news?

R. del Río: Spain's largest newspapers include El País, ABC, El Mundo, Público and La Razón, based in Madrid, and El Periódico de Catalunya and La Vanguardia, based in Catalonia. Spain also has free dailies, including Qué! and 20 Minutos. We pitch to the different media based on the news topic. For example, all healthcare news is pitched to the newspaper El Mundo. Our decision on which media to pitch is also affected by whether the news is national or local, and by the size of the client.

Bridge: Does Mind the Gap Comunicación conduct media outreach outside of Spain? Is there a difference in the way you approach them?

R. del Río: We prefer to work with local agencies when contacting international media. For example, if we want to reach the Portuguese media we work with Consultores de Comunicaçao, a public relations firm based in Portugal.

Bridge: You have two partners at Mind the Gap Comunicación. What is the division of responsibility amongst the three of you?

R. del Río: Mind the Gap divides responsibility in three areas: human resources, office management, and finance. We all work together with new business and promotions, and decide amongst the group who will be in charge of each task.

Bridge: In the United States, many print media have stopped publishing as more people are getting their news online. Is Spain dealing with a similar situation? If so, how does this affect someone working in public relations in Spain?

R. del Río: This situation is also happening in Spain. Due to a decrease in readership, there has been a decrease in advertising, and staff cutbacks have led to work being done by freelancers. Public relations in Spain is affected because it is has made media relations more difficult with traditional media. Online media and PR 2.0, using online technology and social media, have become more effective in creating awareness for a client.

Spotlight on PR in India

An interview with Sreehari Nair, an Indian freelance journalist

Sreehari NairSreehari Nair, a freelance journalist, has worked with India's leading newspaper, The Times of India, and as chief reporter at ITP Publishing in India, publishers of Hotelier India.

Bridge: Indian newspapers have the second largest market in the world. Do you think that as more people have access to the Internet, Indian newspapers will go the way of American newspapers, or is there some advantage Indian newspapers have?

Sreehari Nair: Print news is still what people believe in. There has been a tremendous increase in news channels but print publications are still relevant. Reading a newspaper while sipping a cup of coffee is a norm that is still practiced in India.

Bridge: Indian media is among the oldest and largest in the world. What about it would surprise the American readership?

S. Nair: The sensationalism of news practiced in the Indian media would surprise many American readers. Sensationalist reporting is rampant.

Bridge: What aspects of the Indian media would you describe as uniquely Indian?

S. Nair: The 'uniqueness' is that in the fight for more eyeballs, we have forgotten responsible journalism. Reporting on deaths, cruelty, and calamities are given more importance than in the West.

Bridge: India is the world's largest democracy. Do you think the media does a good job educating the public? Is the media often accused of having a political bias as it is in the U.S.?

S. Nair: Indian media has yet to don the role of educator. Sensationalism is commonly practiced to increase sales figures. Many channels and newspapers are biased. In fact, a few of the dailies are run by politicians. So it can only be guessed how much truth is covered in them.

Bridge: What is the greatest media scandal, involving a newspaper or a TV news operation or magazine, in India within the last few years?

S. Nair: Only recently a reporter from a news channel called Live India reported about the involvement of a teacher in a sex scandal. Everybody went to town with that story only to discover later that the entire story was fabricated. The editor of the news channel claims he was kept in dark. How can we believe that? This story has put the credibility of news television at stake. Nothing can be trusted at face value.

Bridge: What is the traditional career path for someone who wants to make a career in the print media in India?

S. Nair: The media has become very competitive, so it is always better to go for a degree/diploma in journalism. Most courses are available for a six month or one year duration and are a good investment. Once you have a foot in the door as a reporter, climbing the stairs is not that difficult.

Bridge: How would you compare and contrast the ways in which the recent terrorist attacks in India are covered by Indian media versus how they're covered in the West?

S. Nair: This time the Indian media went over the top. Commandos taking positions were shown 'live' which is now believed to have helped terrorists track their movements. Also, live coverage of dead bodies is revered in the India media. After the 1993 blasts in Mumbai, a leading print publication carried a picture of a man holding only the head of a person. Even when covering the Tsunami, TV channels were broadcasting images of bodies floating on water. I think that is totally unnecessary and tasteless. Be it 9/11, the London tube bombings or the Madrid bombings, I never saw dead bodies being shown in Western media.

Bridge: Newspaper sales actually increased in India by 11 percent in 2007. What do you think accounts for this?

S. Nair: The penetration of online publications is nothing compared to what print publications have. Newspaper prices are also so low that a household today subscribes to more than one paper. Print has so much reach in India that if channeled properly, it can mobilize the nation.

The Art of Public Speaking: Interview with Coach Sandra Kazan

sandra kazanA lot of people fear public speaking, and yet it is something that is part of most senior executives' jobs. Bridge spoke to Bridge public speaking coach Sandra Kazan, who shared her thoughts about fear of giving speeches and how to be a better speaker.

Bridge: Have you ever experienced any fear in public speaking yourself?

Sandra Kazan: Yes, I have indeed experienced nervousness in public speaking. This makes me understand what happens to other people who get nervous (and most of them do) when speaking publicly.

Bridge: Have you always had a gift for public speaking or was this something you had to teach yourself? How does your theater/acting career tie in with your public speaking coaching?

Sandra Kazan: As an actress I have always loved language, the human voice and communicating ideas to other people. I use many acting exercises in my speech coaching. that help you relax, breathe and concentrate on your objective, which all actors must do.

Bridge: Why do you think people struggle in public speaking?

Sandra Kazan: There are a variety of reasons depending on the individual. Generally, people concentrate on what other people will think of them and not enough on what they want to communicate.

Bridge: What are some tips for getting rid of the "fear" in public speaking?

Sandra Kazan: Many people fail to use their breath when they get up to speak in public. They would benefit from knowing how to release their tension and use the abdominal support of breath which is the energy of the voice.

Bridge: How can non native speakers get rid of their accents?

Sandra Kazan: Work with a speech coach who can teach the correct sounds of Standard American English. It involves more than simply listening to a tape. The speech coach can identify what the speaker is doing with the articulators, i.e., tongue, lips, jaw and palate, and demonstrate the correct placement.

Bridge: What can people practice on their own to improve their skills? What is the best method to rehearse proper speaking?

Sandra Kazan: Reading aloud can not only be pleasurable but also really helpful. Children's books can encourage greater variety of vocal range. Also, writing out your written text so that it is easier for your eye to grasp at a glance is also important. Rehearsing in front of a mirror enables you to maintain good contact with your audience.

To learn more about private lessons in public speaking with Sandra Kazan, contact Lucy Siegel at Bridge Global Strategies.

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Topics: public speaking, speech coach, PR, Public Relations

Tips for Giving Better Speeches

By Sandra Kazan

Rehearse your speech in front of a few colleagues or friends and ask for feedback. Here are common criticisms of speakers and suggestions for improvements to address those criticisms:

  1. If you have distracting body mannerisms: write the mannerism in the margin of your text, i.e. "head scratching," "finger pointing," and cross it out. This will help break the habit.
  2. If you can't hold the audience's interest: establish genuine eye contact with your audience. Arrange your written text in spoken phrases so that you look at the people you're addressing rather than at your text. Use language written for the eye instead of the ear. Your audience should feel you're talking to them, not making a speech. Find words that are direct, vivid, and to-the-point. The audience has to grasp what you say immediately.
  3. If people have trouble understanding you:firm up your consonants. Speak a few lines of text with your index knuckle in your mouth. Then remove it and speak normally. Your articulation will be crisp and clear.
  4. If you are self-conscious about your accent:working with a speech coach can help identify the sounds-i.e. "l" "v" "r" "w"-which most non-native speakers of spoken English have trouble with. With practice, an accent can be reduced and you can speak with confidence.
  5. If you suffer from stage fright — i.e. dry mouth, shaking voice, legs turning to jelly: preparation and rehearsing for a presentation will give you confidence. Warm up your voice with a gentle hum from low to high and back to low.

    When fear sets in, people often hold their breath. To release the breath, prolong your exhale, then allow the breath to return. This will help focus your concentration. For dry mouth, bite the tip of your tongue gently to create saliva.

    Get centered physically. Flop over like a "rag doll" as far as you can. Make sure you fully relax your head and neck. Now with your eyes closed slowly roll up to a standing position. When you're physically centered open your eyes. You should feel released from tension.

Sandra Kazan is a speech coach, Broadway actress and director who has served as a speech consultant to corporate executives in top management positions for over 20 years. She has special expertise in coaching people who are not native English speakers and want to make speeches and presentations with greater clarity, ease and confidence. She has worked with clients of Lucy Siegel, Bridge's president, for more than 15 years. For information on working with Sandy, call Lucy Siegel (tel: 212-583-1043).

Wonder What's Up Down Under?

73Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush. Colleen McCullough, Nevil Shute, Morris West. And let’s not forget Olivia Newton-John. A lot of talent for a country of 20 million. A new bilateral Australia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement has focused more attention on our exceptionally close ally. Australia, with one of the world's strongest economies, welcomes over 400,000 Americans a year.

In this issue, Bridge features an interview with Sonia Rendigs, founder and director of Media Moguls Communication, a new PR firm in Melbourne, on public relations in Australia. The firm offers strategies for hospitality, food and lifestyle businesses in Australia.

Sonia RendigsBridge: How does the vast open interior of Australia and its other unique geographical characteristics affect PR in the country?

Sonia Rendigs: From a client base perspective: the low population and lack of very wealthy individuals make the opportunities seem slim compared to the U.S.A., where I lived and worked from 1999 until 2004.
Australians in general are very adventurous and inquisitive. They are hard workers, but also love to holiday. We have four to six weeks annual vacation, enjoy the outdoors and love to see the wonders of the world. This translates into a very active travel and lifestyle PR industry here with many glossy magazines, trade publications and broadsheet [newspaper] columns.

Bridge: In developing a PR strategy for Australia, what big overriding issues does one need to keep in mind?

SR: We work in the field of luxury travel, spas and high-end food products, and therefore we carefully assess the demographics of the audience to select effective media targets. Our travel clients receive most of their revenues from the domestic market.

Boomers are a huge market and still read broadsheets and magazines. Gen Y love the internet and virus marketing tactics. We have even done some grassroots work with school newsletter editorial. Controlled content is going to be a huge trend in TV over the next ten years. At the moment we have four prime-time travel shows on free-to-air TV, so TV is a key outlet for travel clients.

The domestic market is then ranked state by state by our clients. We focus on the media outlets that will generate the most effective results in each domestic sector. Sydney is the location for the national editorial offices – as New York is in the U.S.A. Therefore we do pay special attention to the media events there.

Sydney and Melbourne are the key markets; however, national campaigns cannot afford to restrict themselves to these cities alone. Particularly with travel and leisure, there are regions all over Australia which must be included (i.e. Tasmania, the entire Queensland coast, Adelaide and surrounds and Perth and surrounds). Outback Australia, particularly the Northern Territory, is also a major growth area for tourism – especially on the luxury and 'gourmet' level.

We pay special attention to Brisbane and the North East coast of this continent, which is the Florida of Australia. To target this market, we are working to create special 'Boomer' packages.

Bridge: How would you compare the way journalism is practiced in Australia to the U.S. and the U.K.? Is it very similar? What are the differences?

SR: In all three countries, the role of the PR professional is to present relevant information in an accurate and timely manner. The key news angles must be thoughtfully presented so the media are informed in a way that makes the information newsworthy. It's a subtle process and good faith will build over time.

However, major media outlets in the U.S. and the U.K. have much stronger cultures of editing and fact-checking than in Australia. With a population of only 20 million, perhaps there is not the talent pool to draw from, nor the money available to pay for a huge editing staff, and therefore the PR professional here has less opportunity for media coverage.

Bridge: How well does the average Aussie business person understand PR?

SR: Throughout mainstream business in Australia, there is a fundamental lack of knowledge about what PR involves. A lot of businesses won't budget for it because they aren't sure what it is and how it can translate into dollars. It often gets confused with advertising or human resources.

Bridge: Compared to New York, how expensive is it to hire a PR agency in Melbourne or Sidney?

SR: Our rates are just about the same numbers as New York City rates, except ours are in Australian dollars, not U.S.$ [Note to readers: $10,000 US = $13,200 AUD, so a $10,000 AUD retainer is a lower amount than a $10,000 U.S. retainer.] At first I got shocked responses accompanied by rejection, but the business model demanded those fees. With some research (and courage) I found a core of good clients who understand and value PR so the fees are accepted as fair and reasonable.

Making a Speech? Five Tips to Becoming More Calm and Confident

Making a Speech?by Sandra Kazan

To hear yourself the way others hear you, record your speech and then listen to it.

  1. If you speak too fast:
    Pay attention to the vowels in the words. Linger on the vowel sounds for a count of 3. i.e. "Threeeeee bliiiiind miiiiiice." This will slow you down. Repeat, then speak normally.
  2. If you hate the way you sound:
    Nasal? Your soft palate needs exercising. First, yawn and sigh out on a silent "Ah." Then yawn and sigh out on a voiced "Ah." Repeat several times and you will feel your voice coming out of your mouth, not your nose. Weak breathy voice? You need abdominal breath support. Walk around the room exhaling on a hissing "s" making it last as long as possible. Repeat. Now, exhale on a "z". Repeat. You should feel the abdominal contraction at the end of the exhale.
  3. If you speak with unnecessary fillers:
    Listen to the number of times you fill your pauses with "um", "er", etc. Record your speech again making a conscious effort to avoid them.
  4. If you feel you can't breathe while you are speaking:
    Exhale. Slowly inhale on a count of 4 and exhale on a count of 6. Repeat. This will release tension and normalize your breathing.
  5. If your voice sounds monotonous, even to you:
    Explore and exercise your vocal range. Walk around the room and sing your text. Make up your own tune. Then speak it and you will hear more vocal energy and variety.

Sandra Kazan is a speech coach, Broadway actress and director who has served as a speech consultant to corporate executives in top management positions for over 20 years. She has special expertise in coaching people who are not native English speakers and want to make speeches and presentations with greater clarity, ease and confidence. For information on working with Sandy Kazan, email or call Lucy Siegel (tel: 212-583-1043).

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