In part 1 of the interview our PR expert Vilma Bosticco we talked about current trends and influences on PR practices in Italy. Part 2 deals with general regional differences and special requirements for international PR in Italy.* The series is based on phone or face-to-face interviews and written input, therefore please excuse language mistakes which might reflect foreign language influences.
1. Are there PR practices in which you think your region differs from PR in other part of the world?
Vilma Bosticco: In our country language is still an issue, therefore international corporations should take into account the fact that launching a central campaign through social media is not a guarantee for getting coverage in the local country. Each campaign needs to be localized, not only as far as contents are concerned, but also in terms of local market needs and understanding.
Also when approaching Italian journalist you have to take into account the fact that they may not have the same approach as, for example, UK or US journalists have.
2. Can you describe common mistakes foreign companies make?
Vilma Bosticco: The most common mistake is to think that what worked abroad will for sure work in Italy as well. It’s not always the case. For example we noticed a trend where foreign companies prefer to centrally handle global announcements by doing teleconferences with journalists from different countries.
While I fully understand the reasons to do so (cost reduction, saving time and money avoiding executives travelling across the European continent) I’m always skeptical about organizing such “virtual” meetings with Italian journalists. Apart from language barriers, our reporters are difficult to “catch”: They may confirm their attendance to the teleconference and then they simply do not connect to the call. When you contact them the following day to understand why they missed the event, they’ll answer that they had last minute priorities and they’ll ask for a press kit or a playback.
There are other areas in which we always advice our customers as companies regularly make mistakes in situations such as press meetings. Maybe “off the record comments” work in other regions but we warn customers about mentioning information they don’t want to see appearing in the media in Italy. I guess we Italians have a hard time to keep a secret. Maybe is has to do with our history of having big families or living in small villages or city districts where when you tell somebody something, it can be expected that soon the whole family or village knows about it anyways.
3. What do clients from other markets need to keep in mind when they plan to do PR in your region?
Vilma Bosticco: You need to tailor the information you are sharing to the different journalists’ needs and level of knowledge. This is why having a local agency driving your campaigns is really important. I’ve seen many examples of companies deciding to centrally handle PR activities in the Italian market. Unless you are a very well known brand, this usually turns into poor and fragmented coverage. You still need to carry on ongoing activities in Italy, you have to be very proactive with our press if you want to get the level of attention that any company investing in PR is wishing to receive.
Next Thursday Japanese PR specialist Tadahisa Kimura will report that traditional media, such as newspapers and TV, are still key to successful PR in Japan. PR experts however expect a significant shift towards online PR within the next few years.
Vilma Bosticco is a Managing Partner of the Milan based agency Prima Pagina Comunicazione – GlobalCom PR Network Partner Italy for IT and Tech topics. Vilma has spent the first ten years of her professional life in the IT market working for Italian subsidiaries of US companies like Concurrent Computer Corporation, Oracle Corporation, Ashton-Tate, Borland. In 1993 she became part of the staff of a Public Relation Agency operating in the IT market, where she was Account Supervisor. She founded Prima Pagina Comunicazione in December 1995 together with Tania Acerbi and Massimo Reverberi.