We sat down with Waters Agency new SVP, EMEA for a broad ranging Q&A on the agency’s proposition in Europe, how to best manage Pan-European campaigns effectively and the challenges facing the PR industry due to Covid-19.
Q. What is the Waters Agency proposition in the UK and Europe?
We focus all our energy on technology companies. To date, our focus has been on Cloud and enterprise computing in the US and Europe but we’re looking to expand into marketing, telecoms, and broadcast technology over time.
We offer b2b and b2c technology companies Pan-European PR support at a price that works. Unlike traditional agencies, our team of only senior-level PR, social and content professionals bring deep country expertise. Collectively, we have more than 300 years of experience working in marketing and PR. We’re also a completely virtual team — we have been from day one. We don’t have the overhead of a large networked PR shop, so although our clients benefit from senior-level PR expertise, we’re typically more affordable and flexible.
Our footprint covers all the major European markets, including: the UK, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden and Spain, with more countries to come on board in the coming months. And due to our virtual model, we can always quickly spin up support in new countries depending on the client's needs.
We see a great opportunity to support our growing roster of US clients in Europe - over the last three years alone we’ve worked with 50+ companies on projects, and we now have 20 clients on retainer - as well as secure net new clients.
Q. Why do you think Pan-European campaigns fail?
Many organizations want to make an impact in Europe but often feel overwhelmed with the number of countries and varying cultural and socio-economic influences that need to be taken into account when planning PR programmes. There is never a one size fits all model for Europe - one tactic that may work in Germany but doesn’t in The Netherlands - so companies need to ensure strategy and content is right from the start. Costs can often spiral and value diminished by losing time and budget on trying to find the right strategy and agency partners to get the project or campaign up and running.
US or UK PR agencies generally use partner networks. Despite the best efforts, that proves difficult to manage when two or three different agencies are pushed together with different ways of working. It can often fail to deliver real value or get projects approved due to added project management costs of all the agencies.
Pan-European PR programmes need careful consideration and require strong planning, but they often need to be executed quickly and sync with bigger campaigns. With our model we have the best in breed senior PR experts on hand that can pick up a project quickly, understand the technology and have the senior expertise to know what works and what doesn’t so all budget can be put towards securing the best results. Much of the success also comes down to managing the campaigns centrally. It’s vital to have that quarterback, that one point of contact for a client that can understand the project’s goals and help coordinate all the activities across the countries to drive the best results possible. I feel we have a strong and cost-effective alternative to sprawling networked agencies or disfunctional partner networks.
Q. How will the COVID-19 pandemic impact PR in the UK and across Europe?
The PR industry is far from immune from the effects of the pandemic. We have seen over the past four months that PR budgets have either been frozen or cut and there has been a pretty significant slowdown in new business opportunities. We’ve also seen the rise in importance of a strategic communication programme for brands. Never before have organizations needed senior-level assistance to navigate the media and send the right messages out to the public.
As green shoots of recovery are starting to appear in the UK and Europe from the pandemic, PR budgets will naturally come back but lower than before. The need for organizations to get value for money will be stronger than ever. The larger, and even mid-sized, PR firms are just not going to be able to make these smaller budgets work, and if they do then it will need to lean heavily on junior-level individuals to manage and work on the account.
We provide both US and Pan-European PR support that delivers value but at a price that is sustainable. And as we were already a 100% virtual team, we are already set up for success. I have no doubt that we will continue to provide the same level of high-quality service and senior PR expertise, regardless of the current environment or circumstances to support organizations looking to grow.
For more information or to learn how Waters Agency can help your organization reach the next level, contact us today.