Euro fever is upon us like the flu bug sweeping the country. UK plc
is not part of the first wave of countries entering this financial
entente cordiale, so does this mean that UK-based businesses looking to
deal with Euroland are going to catch an economic cold?
Putting the partisan sabre rattling aside, the global players who have
corporate HQs in the UK have not waited for the political nod, choosing
instead to embrace the new currency in their everyday dealings with
The majority of smaller players have chosen to watch and wait. Surveys
conducted by Barclays revealed that as late as September last year, the
majority of UK companies had still not put the issue on their boardroom
agendas. Whether this was a result of arrogance, apathy or a lack of
understanding, the debate about the business opportunities and threats
is going to be centre stage in the coming months, and our industry has a
great opportunity to play a significant role in that on-going
A pre-requisite for our contribution to this debate is that PR
practitioners fully grasp the implications of the euro and are skilled
in the development and implementation of pan-European strategies. It is
also vital that they are involved at a strategic level in their client’s
business planning programmes which in the run-up to the millennium are
likely to be more dynamic and responsive to market stimuli than
Indeed, the euro can be compared to the relentless march towards new
media. Not so long ago simply everyone ’had to have’ a web site whether
they needed one or not. More often than not these were simply ’brochures
in the sky’. The fact that the use of new media is now more educational
and dynamic is down to the PR industry and the strategic advice offered
to clients. There is a definite parallel here with the euro and the PR
industry has a tremendous opportunity to highlight the pluses and
minuses of dealing with Euroland.
There are also opportunities on the flip side of the euro coin. The UK
may be outside the boundaries of Euroland, but, according to
PricewaterhouseCoopers’ findings, the volume of trade between the UK and
the rest of the EU countries is around 20 per cent of the total external
trade which is about the same as the US and Japan put together. This
makes the UK the largest trading partner, an important consideration in
terms of international PR.
In PR Week’s Leader last week, it was argued that there may be a power
shift towards countries such as Germany where the PR industry is in
ascendancy, as the new communications gateway.
However, it must be remembered that the euro is an economic venture
The pursuit of the seamless pan-European PR campaigns will not decrease
in its complexity and companies looking to communicate with the circle
of 11 euro-based economies are still more likely to deal with the
familiar UK gateway.
The UK should therefore strengthen its position as a hub for PR activity
in the new Euroland. Sophisticated players in the UK will be able to
capitalise on this by offering fast and responsive programmes and mature
affiliate networks across the 11 member countries and beyond.
The trend towards becoming all singing and dancing operators comfortably
offering both strategic consultancy and tactical implementation across
Euroland, is moving ahead at a pace of knots. PR agencies operating out
of the UK are at the helm of that drive even though this sceptred isle
might at this moment be seen as bobbing in the wake churned up by the
first wave of euro entry.
Christine Ryder is group managing director of Key Communications.