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What do PR and the Eurovision Song Contest have in common?

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Copenhagen plays host to the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest this weekend. The contest was first established as a light entertainment program in post-war Europe, as a way to bring countries back together. These days it remains a fun way to unite the continent. The annual song competition sees artists from across Europe performing a song live to represent their country. The participating countries score each performance (except their own). The most popular song wins the title and becomes the following year’s host country.

The cultural nuances between each country and region are clear to see through choice of song, dress and voting tactics. This is where I see comparisons with PR. Nuances also exist between the media landscapes in Europe. It’s something we see daily in the LEWIS PR international division.

So, ahead of this weekend’s competition, here are my (light-hearted) comparisons between Eurovision and public relations:

The Nordics

Starting with an ABBA win back in 1974 for the song “Waterloo,” Sweden is one of Eurovision’s most successful countries. Perhaps this isn’t surprising given the Nordic ‘cross voting.’ Sweden regularly gives top marks to Denmark for example, and vice versa.

Companies often choose to run ‘Nordics’ PR campaigns, rather than individual country campaigns, citing similarities between the media needs and that content produced for one market will generally work in another. However, while Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Norway share similar cultures and small media landscapes, they have different languages, currencies and needs. Media in the Nordics favors country-specific input, preferring to receive local proof points and interview local spokespeople.

Iberia

Spain and Portugal are another political-voting duo, who often give top marks to each other. Their songs are typically performed in native language and bring a local flavor to the competition.

Comparing this to the Iberian press, journalists feel much more comfortable doing interviews with spokespeople in their own language, rather than with global spokespeople in English. They respond positively when PR pros tie their content in with local events and news issues. Without a local angle, there will likely be no media interest.

UK

As a Brit, I can say we’re the cynical ones in the competition! Our commentators mock the other countries in a friendly way. We choose less frivolous acts. We like to think our songs offer substance.

Similarly, the UK press can be cynical too. To be successful doing PR in the UK, PRs need to present a new angle, with hard-hitting statistics and proof points (such as a customer reference), and senior executives with strong views and opinions.

If you’re interested in learning more about the similarities and differences of media landscapes in Europe – and beyond – check out our global media guide.

Do you have your own experiences of working on European PR campaigns? We’d love you to share them with us.

And, good luck to all participating countries in tomorrow’s contest!

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