THE BIG QUESTION: What was your biggest international public relations blunder? Poor communication between agencies is the greatest impediment to a successful international PR campaign according to a poll of 70 Edelman PR Worldwide senior consultants

John Mahony, Edelman PR Worldwide

John Mahony, Edelman PR Worldwide

’In the run-up to the flotation of Eircom, an Irish telecoms company,

Edelman wanted the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange to mark the

listing by drumming a bodhran following the ringing of the bell.

Disaster struck when the bodhran was mislaid by the airline just before

the flight from London to New York. The Edelman machine went into

overdrive and staff, relations and friends were dispatched on to the

streets of New York to find the proverbial needle in a haystack. Ten

minutes to listing and the bodhran was found. The world media looked on

in awe as the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange departed with

protocol and tapped the bodhran as he made his way across the floor,

following the ringing of the bell.’

Jeff Hunt, Burson-Marsteller

’I’ve lived in Korea and Mexico and worked throughout Latin America,

Europe, North America and Asia. While I have seen the occasional

cultural faux pas with the misinterpretation of language, intent and

even colour, the biggest stumbling block to global campaigns has to be a

disease called ’myopic territoriality’, otherwise known as ’not invented

here’. The first symptom of this is when the local manager says: ’You

don’t understand my market; it doesn’t work that way here.’ It’s all

downhill from there.’

Dale Lawrence, Lufthansa German Airlines

’Working in Cambodia from 1994 to 1995 posed many problems - both

personal and professional - not least the ever-present threat of

guerrilla group the Khmer Rouge. But the crumbling infrastructure of the

country caused most frustrations - in particular the inadequate and

unreliable power generation system. Back-up generators were a must, but

not all government ministries could afford them. So when I tempted CNN’s

Tom Mintier to the capital, Phnom Penh, to interview Cambodia’s

environment minister Dr Mok Mareth, all thoughts of self-congratulation

were quickly dispelled when a power cut denied us the benefits of air

conditioning - essential in such an oppressive climate - and turned the

ministerial office into the areas’s newest sauna.’

Anita Tiessen, Unicef

’In my previous position as media director at Amnesty International, we

launched a campaign to promote human rights in China. The launch itself

was to take place in Bangkok. This was, politically, a very sensitive

issue, and our Chinese expert and myself were arrested while making our

way to the press conference - allegedly so that the police could check

our visas - so we never arrived. On the positive side, though, Amnesty’s

secretary general did manage to get there, so the event took place. The

fact that we were detained by the police simply meant we held a second

press conference when we were released two hours later. As I’ve lived to

tell the tale and I emerged with full make-up on, it was all all right

in the end.’

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in