THE BIG QUESTION: Can PR be used to make Europeans love the single currency?

On 1 January the euro will switch from being a 'virtual' to a

'real' currency in 12 EU states. The UK has opted out, but this week it

was announced that one in three British retailers will accept euro

notes.



JOHN RIVETT - Hill & Knowlton



'I'm not sure we'll ever love the euro but we can learn to live with it.

Once the accusations of "rounding up" prices have died down, I would

concentrate on a dual approach of creating excitement around ease-of-use

and picking off some of the core concerns. In my view, mobilising big

business and youth (who seem less hung up about the national identity

issue) will be two strategies. One area that is important to both is

travel and I can see a real opportunity in using the euro to help

reinvigorate Europe's travel market. In fact, if we could convince a

younger European audience that the euro is "their" currency, wider

acceptance would follow more quickly.'



LUTZ MEYER - Weber Shandwick Worldwide



'Yes. Negatives appear to stem from three areas: discomfort with a

decision that has been made by remote Eurocrats, the angst of an

economic adventure, and a resistance to give up a national symbol. The

key to a pro-euro campaign must be consistency of message balanced with

specifics that address local concerns. The theme has to be one of

reassurance with messages about security, ease-of-use and sovereignty.

It should use the net, electronic/ print media, direct mail and

in-person communications to answer questions. Strategic alliances must

be created with organisations that have direct contact with consumers as

well as a role in the introduction process (e.g. banks, tourist sector)

as part of a PA and issues management programme.'



RICHARD PRICE - The Euro PR Group



'No. PR can't make people love the euro because to love something is an

appeal to our emotions and that is best left to advertising. We are not

meant to love the euro but rather to understand its benefits and in this

area PR has a crucial role. PR should be at the heart of campaigns

across Europe to provide clear messages on the advantages the euro will

bring. PR can demonstrate the euro's practical value and usefulness. UK

attitudes to the euro will change once coins and notes are widely

available and people experience the ease of changing money when moving

between countries and the savings made through not having to pay

commission. Effective PR can provide clear practical examples of the

advantages of using the euro and help us avoid getting involved in

emotional debates.'



BRAD STAPLES - APCO



'The euro starts with no emotional capital. Actually, it suffers from

the negative legacy of Britain's ERM experience as well as a government

divided over whether or not to lead. Until this is sorted, a proper PR

campaign cannot begin because the euro isn't grounded in ties of

nationhood or kinship. Since most people are pragmatic and adaptable, PR

needs to focus on personal economic benefits.



As long as the euro's value does not plummet and the transition doesn't

include excessive costs, people will accept it. The PR messages need to

be realistic; steer clear of abstract ideals and stick to the common

sense message that unity - not fragmentation - is best for jobs,

investment, prices and prosperity. This means bringing home the message

we see everyday in the news; this is an interdependent world, and we

will sink or swim together.'



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