Spotlight: Berlin

Christiane Schulz, CEO of Weber Shandwick Germany, details how digital comms and integrated work is crucial for growth in the city.

Christiane Schulz, CEO of Weber Shandwick Germany, details how digital comms and integrated work is crucial for agency growth in the city.

What makes Berlin great?

As the German capital, Berlin is a very vibrant city. You can feel and see the history on one side and, on the other, it is very modern.

It has a great mix of people, such as politicians, PR professionals, actors, creative people, and a lot of tourists.

Klaus Wowereit, mayor of Berlin, once said that the city is "poor, but sexy." He was right. There is not much industry, but a lot of culture. Berlin has three operas and German theaters, such as Deutsches Theater, one of the best in Europe. There is Museum Island [home to five different museums] and you can also discover a lot of art.

Describe the state of the PR industry in the city?
Berlin is the creative capital of Germany. You will find all the relevant players in the city.

The PR and communications industry in Berlin is not huge, so as an agency you will work for clients from across Germany.

There are internationally established network agencies, but also some small independent and local firms. The status of the industry is pretty good.

Have the economic problems with the eurozone affected the industry?
The financial crisis did hit in 2008 and 2009 and affected every agency. Everybody who made it through this crisis came out stronger.

Traditional PR does not grow that much anymore, but if you are able to deliver digital and integrated work, you should have seen growth since 2012.

Check In

Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Berlin
Fasanenstraße 85 D, 10623 Berlin
Tel: (+49) 30 31510
www.ihk-berlin.de

German PR Association
Reinhardtstraße 19,
10117 Berlin
Tel: (+49) 3080 4097-33
www.dprg.de

Die Zeit
Dorotheenstraße 33,
10117 Berlin
Tel: (+49) 3059 00480
www.zeit.de

What sort of services are clients looking for agencies to deliver?
Clients look for agencies that help them solve their problems in the best possible way. We can see that creative excellence is very important to our clients.

Providing consulting advice to organizations to help them become media companies is a big trend right now. In doing so, digital is an important factor.

How is social media and technology being integrated into PR and communications in Berlin?
Digital communications is very important for the PR industry and the more you place it at the center of your work, the more success you will have.

Leveraging digital is the biggest chance to engage with your target group.

What is the talent situation like in Berlin? Do you benefit from the growing expatriate freelance community?
Berlin has a lot of talent and is very international. You can work in the city without speaking the German language.

If you speak English, you will be able to get along, especially with the network agencies.

What sectors are seeing the most growth?
The pharmaceutical industry is growing in Germany and also in the city, followed closely by tourism and digital creative economy.

What is the tech and startup scene like?

Some people call Berlin the Silicon Valley of Europe. It is awesome and I can only recommend that people in the industry take the time to visit the cafés, such as Betahaus in Kreuzberg or St. Oberholz in Mitte, to get in touch with that scene.

The atmosphere is not as vibrant as in Silicon Valley, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time before that changes.

What do you love most about Berlin?
I love the feeling of the city in the summer. It is very special.

Berlin is a melting pot, lively, creative, and inspiring. I love the cultural mix of people you find here.

What advice would you give a client or agency looking to break into the market?
The good news is that all of the [media companies] have a correspondent in the city or are located here, such as media group Axel Springer.

There are lots of radio stations and bloggers as well. From a media perspective, the city is terrific.

The bad news is there is always something going on. The city never sleeps and neither does news production. Even with the best planning and thinking, Berlin can come up with a surprise when you want to communicate something. So be creative and stay flexible.

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