What are the major corporations across sectors that have decision-making units based in the region?
Pharma (Richter), healthcare (GE), road transportation (Waberer’s) automotive (Audis’ largest engine plant in the world), telecoms (Nokia, Ericsson development centres).
What are the hottest sectors for start-ups?
IT is clearly one of the hottest sectors for startups. The education system has a focus on training ITC experts at high schools and universities. Although the industry is willing to take most of these educated people, many believe that they can build themselves up better independently. Many succeed, since more and more startups provide services to an industry that has an insufficient workforce.
The majority of startups are active in the automotive (autonomous bus and truck development), biotech (nutrition and nutrition supplements) and pharmaceutical industries. A national fund has been established to support start-ups by means of financing and mentoring them to get them to market. Primarily, inventions based on IT are in the pipeline.
What kind of sectors are the rising stars in the local economy?
The automotive industry is the most powerful: Audi, Mercedes, Opel and Suzuki have a production presence in the country and, as a result, the local supplier industry is developing rapidly: mechanical parts, electronic devices, tires and chemical products. The national bus manufacturing program is supported heavily by the government, with cities ordering electric buses that are also manufactured locally. An autonomous vehicle program is growing as well.
What holds sway in your region – traditional or new media types and influencers? How is that changing?
Social media is on its way to succeeding over print and the partly institutionalized online media. Although the government heavily influences conventional media, it was possible to organize large demonstrations in many cities after the parliamentary elections in April by using blogs and chats.
What is the influence ecosystem – the media, analysts, consultants and non-traditional influencers (bloggers etc). And where to start in this ecosystem?
Analysts are often regarded as being neutral experts. The media uses analysts, broadcasting and publishing their views on various matters. Some years before, we said that we ask the experts, now we utilize the same persons but it is better to present them as “analysts”. There are only a few highly respected bloggers who drive general opinion. To influence the specified target groups, we use trade and expert online media, combined with Facebook or LinkedIn.
In case there is a particular product or solution to be popularized, we go to Internet services that reflect the social status of the group. Sometimes, we have to talk to many sites with a narrow audience group, but the members have a high degree of affinity to the issue we are talking about.
What kind of stories tends to dominate influencer/media attention? What type of stories receive little attention?
The news value must be high. In terms of topics, employment matters, modern technologies easing work flow and future trends are welcome. Also, all problems, scandals, faults are guaranteed to be of interest.
What doesn’t work: success stories, non-revolutionary new products, issues without any currency.
What communication tools are the best to use in your market – media relations, social media, employer branding, events, content marketing etc.?
Content marketing in a must. The use of social media is unavoidable. Employer branding is very important since the need for a highly skilled workforce is growing daily and competition for them is increasing.
What kind of communication software are you using in your daily activities? (media and social media monitoring, CRMs, knowledge management, project management, news distribution software etc. – give names ).
Media and social media monitoring, news distribution software. These activities are outsourced, we pay to suppliers.
Do you have any “horror stories” or anecdotes that demonstrate contemporary PR/communication practice in your region?
It is often the case that some client is under the false impression that their product or service is so revolutionary that the media will be happy to publish a story about it and, as a consequence, customers will fighting one another to buy it. The in-house atmosphere of a large company makes the communication manager enthusiastic about the fantastic corporation that has hired them and he cannot imagine that the story may be uninteresting from a local/regional perspective. These people arrogantly demand this kind of great coverage just on the basis of a press release. They hardly understand that the reality is, unfortunately, that the product, the company and the issue must have something important (trend setting, satisfying a real need, breaking up a monopoly etc.) in connection with the local market. Otherwise, there is no chance to publish anything about it with the tools of PR at our disposal. It can just be published as an advertorial, a ‘supported’ publication or as an ad.
This just concerns publications, while the real interest of the client is to reach and gain a target group, making them stakeholders of the company/brand/service provider.
What can we do in these situations? We can only do our best to teach them that media relations alone won’t help. The PR company must establish interest e.g. by gaining the influencers, teasing the target audience members, by first making the story sexy. Sometimes it is the case that the marketing manager loses patience and goes off looking for another agency. Good luck to them!