Since starting my career in Public Relations (PR) over four years ago, I’ve always been intrigued by the different ways companies communicate messages to their target audience and how influenced they are by the ‘norm’ in their industry or country.

As PR is about managing reputation and in-turn influencing opinion and behaviour, a key aspect to a communication strategy needs to come down to the nuances of the market and culture.

With this in mind, I decided it was time to step outside my comfort zone and leave New Zealand to experience life on the other side of the globe. Rather than pursuing the usual Kiwi in London dream, I decided to take a different route and settled on Ireland – a country where I didn’t know a single person and had no idea where I was going to live.

That might sound a bit daunting, but it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Working for Porter Novelli in New Zealand gave me the opportunity to connect with the global Porter Novelli network and secure a contract at Drury Porter Novelli in Dublin – which definitely took some of the stress off moving!

Now looking back a year since I took the big leap, I have further expanded my knowledge of the industry, and noticed a range of differences and similarities in PR across the two markets. Although both countries are relatively small there are some key differences which can play a big role in a communications strategy.

The top three differences between PR in Ireland and New Zealand:

  1. The Media landscape is a world of its own: The high print readership in Ireland still amazes me. With several daily tabloid and broadcast papers as well as weekend and regional papers there is always a huge push to secure coverage in print. This is almost opposite to the New Zealand media landscape where sadly, print is almost dead. There are very minimal print papers still in existence and online and broadcast is where the majority of news is consumed.
  2. Media partnerships are becoming an essential part of PR Campaigns: In Ireland I have found more media outlets are becoming commercially driven and it is now almost essential to include a media partnership as an element of most integrated campaigns. Although this was starting to become evident before I left New Zealand, it wasn’t anywhere near the scale it is in Ireland. A media partnership is an effective way to create initial intrigue and awareness through a trusted news source. Enabling a media outlet to add their own expertise to a campaign message and then also pushing it out through their social channels can make the all the difference in sparking conversation and creating brand engagement – a vital aspect of any campaign.
  3. Local terminology is different in every market: Although Ireland and New Zealand both speak English there are several differences in the style of language used in everyday communications which can have a huge impact on message interpretation. I’ve found Kiwis are generally a lot more direct in our style of language and if we want something done we will simply ask ‘can you do this?’. In Ireland, people are far politer in their requests and instead will usually say something along the lines of ‘you might do this?’. From a direct talking culture, I found this simple term very confusing – is that a suggestion on how the activity could be done or is it an ask regarding how it should be done? It is interesting to see how one slight change of words can completely alter your interpretation of a sentence, which is why understanding the local terminology and colloquialisms is so important in the world of communications.

Top three similarities between PR in Ireland and New Zealand: 

  1. The lines are now entirely blurred between digital and PR: Before leaving New Zealand, digital communications had started to become an integral part of every campaign. This aligned directly in Ireland whereby digital is now just another communication platform used to amplify the key messages and client campaigns. Content is key and it’s all about how you re-purpose material to resonate with that specific channel. A traditional news release now needs to be edited into a blog for LinkedIn and posts on social media. Included in this is also the need for video and captivating images which will encourage the target audience to engage with the message or brand directly. Tactics which are all now incorporated into the wider PR strategy.
  2. Aligning with the right influencers is key: In stating the obvious, the digital phenomenon has taken off and ‘influencers’ have become a key way for brands to drive awareness around their products. However, in smaller populated countries like New Zealand and Ireland, with a relatively limited number of well-known influencers, the market has quickly become saturated with multiple brands aligning with the same person. Due to this over-saturation we are now seeing a push towards more micro influencer targeting to ensure content is kept authentic and engaging to their audiences.
  3. Creativity will always be important: Creativity is an aspect of PR which is essential no matter where in the world you are. Whether it is in writing, messaging, adapting an existing strategy or brainstorming a big new campaign idea, creativity really is the key to success in the industry. This emphasis on creativity is fundamental to brand communications across the two markets.

Through all my learnings in the past year, I have found the fundamentals of Public Relations and brand communications are very similar across the globe. The key differences come down to market size, media landscape and language, which all play a part in the different strategies and techniques you might use in a communication campaign. There is always a lot we can learn from each other and as the industry continues to evolve it is important we understand what is driving the key trends in all markets.

By Amy Hacon