Known to be very sociable and outgoing most Southern American regions welcomed Social Media with open arms. In Argentina the relationship-building and maintenance to bloggers and the monitoring of blogs and other social media meanwhile account for a large part of the daily PR services as PR expert Ana Laura Esposito tells us.
* 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. What’s the latest trend in PR you can identify in your country/region?
Ana Laura Esposito: Just like in other places around the world, PR activities in Argentina have been deeply influenced by different social media tools such as blogs and social networks. In our country, Facebook and Twitter are among the most popular ones.
Precisely, although one of our main activities as PR consultants has always been to strengthen the relationship between our clients and journalists, now there’s a new actor: the blogger. Many bloggers have a high reputation and acknowledgment among the general audience and organizations. They also have thousands of readers. Since their vision and role is different from journalists’, we have to develop a PR strategy based on their profile. On the other hand, the rapid growth and mass popularity of social networks allow organizations to connect directly with their public without the need to rely on traditional communication media. This is also a scenario we need to consider when planning PR work in social media. Not only do our clients want to appear in off-line mass media and online news media, but they increasingly consider appearing, being mentioned and/or having a good reputation in social networks in order to reach their public in real time and with no intermediaries.
In this scenario, professionals working in PR must be trained in this new kind of communication, in developing strategies based on these accelerating times and in facing new situations. These situations include any person being able to interact with the company through messages that may be positive or negative for corporate image. We need to be prepared for this. In addition, we need to consider the new measuring systems to evaluate the quality of work done. These include the number of followers and the level of interactivity, for example.
Also, it is necessary to mention that since the Internet revolution, which helps to reach millions of people at a low cost and in real time, the number of traditional media like magazines has decreased. In this context, it is common to find just a few specialized magazines in the market. At the same time, there are hundreds of websites, newsletters and blogs dealing with the same topics every day.
Since timing on the Internet and language are not exactly the same in online and off-line media, we need to consider different variables when dealing with the press. To sum up, our job in PR is extremely dynamic and requires continuous updating.
2. How does this scenario affect your company?
Ana Laura Esposito: Our everyday work has developed together with these changes. For example, the clipping department carefully monitors what is going on both in websites and blogs. It also searches for new media since portals and blogs on the Internet grow much more quickly than off-line media. Furthermore, members in our team have knowledge and experience in the institutional use of social media. They help our clients identify their goals and needs in social networks. Then, after planning, it is us that implement the planned actions because there is no doubt that the presence of an organization in a social network like Facebook can’t be trusted to chance.
Since institutional communication in social media is quite new, it is necessary to take planned and monitored actions. Also, clients’ expectations must be real and they must be trained about the pros and cons of this universe. It is important to say that not only do we reach final customers through these media, but also journalists, who use them on a daily basis at work to keep updated.
In this scenario, we want to behave and position ourselves in the market as pioneers on institutional communication in social media. It is a service we can add to our traditional portfolio to offer our clients a more complete and comprehensive PR strategy 100% based on their needs.
3. Could you give an example of some of the work you have done connected to your previous answers?
Ana Laura Esposito: As the number of journalists writing in online media and bloggers increased, we started to offer tools to make their job easier. Then, traditional press releases started to include videos and different size photos so that the press could use them. We do the same with major social media tools. For example, our agency has a profile in Facebook and Twitter. There, we work to manage and optimize institutional communication among our clients, the mass media in general, journalists and bloggers. Precisely, one of our most active clients in Facebook is the German loudspeakers manufacturer Thonet & Vander. Thonet & Vander uses this social network to spread news about their products and comment updates on the music world by reminding users of celebrities’ birthdays and recommending music videos, for example. In this way, the company builds its relationship with music fans who are current or potential clients as brand loyalty is fostered.
Another example is Dassault Systèmes, world leader in 3D and PLM (product lifecycle management) who started to include photos in different seizes and videos into traditional press releases for the press to use.
4. Does PR practice in your country differ from other places in the world?
Ana Laura Esposito: Actually, I’m not keen on generalizations. However, I believe not all PR actions carried out in other countries are equally accepted in Argentina. An example of this is web casts and webinars. Definitely, the Argentine press still prefers to attend an event personally and undervalue web press conferences. Argentinian professionals value meeting executives face to face and being able to talk to them in person.
On the other hand, while other countries such as the United States have policies preventing journalists from accepting invitations to press tours, in Argentina this is a common practice. The same applies to gifts to journalists on their birthday, on Journalist Day and New Year parties. In fact, those days are ideal for companies to honor journalists through their public relations agencies.
Another widely accepted practice in Argentina is exclusive meetings (for breakfast or lunch) of an executive and a journalist to get to know each other in a more casual atmosphere than a corporate event. A great number of companies would rather organize this kind of event than the traditional 20-or-more-journalists event.
In conclusion, although social media have a privileged role in institutional communication strategies, some traditional actions can’t be replaced with online actions.
5. Could you describe some common mistakes of foreign companies in the local market?
Ana Laura Esposito: Even though Argentine people speak Spanish, like in most Latin American countries, our dialect is quite different from the Spanish spoken in Peru, Mexico or Central America, just to mention a few examples. That’s why it’s not considered correct for PR campaigns to spread their message in a “neutral” Spanish, which sounds “foreign” in Argentine ears. A typical example in the IT business is the use of “ordenador” or “la Internet”. Actually, in Argentina we say “PC” or “computadora”, and “Internet” without the article.
Another frequent mistake of foreign companies, especially from the United States, is to believe that all journalists have an outstanding command of English. Then, they spread material especially developed for the press, but in English. A very common case is videos, which can be seen on YouTube.com in English without any subtitles. Therefore, local professionals find themselves limited. Another common example is the launch of products. Although products are available in the local market, the price given is the one used in the United States.
6. What would clients from other markets need to consider when implementing a PR plan in your country/region?
Ana Laura Esposito: Definitely, they should not take a PR plan implemented in another region and use it as it is in our country without checking and adapting it as necessary.
As I have said in the other questions, when I work with my clients I suggest the following: First, their material must be written in Argentine Spanish. That is why it is necessary to identify and change the terms that we don’t use in our country, such as “computador”, “ordenador”, “la Internet”, “Mercadotecnia”, and others.
Secondly, it is important not to take for granted that journalists and their audience know English. If there are videos in this language, at least they must have subtitles in Spanish. If events are organized with foreign executives, there must be professional translators available. Likewise, if a foreign executive answers a questionnaire in English, the PR consulting agency must translate it and send it to the journalist in his or her language. Although these seem obvious suggestions, they are very common mistakes made every day in our country.
Thirdly, although social media actions are very important today, it is necessary not to overwhelm the audience with multiple messages. We can see that, since information is spread so easily in these online media, many firms distribute so many press releases and pieces of news that the public is burdened. Many journalists feel “invaded” when they receive the same press releases in their Facebook profiles and in their email inboxes.
Finally, we can’t forget that journalists should always be segmented according to their interest (technology, business, etc.) because it is essential to build a good relationship with them and offer data that they will find really useful for their jobs. This is relevant because in many cases, firms don’t really know for certain “who is who” in the media world, which clearly damages their image.
Ana Laura Esposito is General Director of the Argentine PR agency Espósito Marketing. The company it was found in 2002 and is specialized in IT and Tech PR market, delivering press and PR strategies for small, medium and large companies as Emerson, Italtel, Dassault Systemes, LANDesk and Sybase among others.
Ana Laura has spent the first 3 years or her career as a specialized IT journalist and then working for an international public relations company base on United States and focused on Latin American market, before founding Espósito Marketing. She is graduated as a Bachelor in Science Communication in the National University of Buenos Aires.