One job, two different markets: discover the differences of doing digital PR in the UK vs. Italy


Working in the English digital PR department of an Italian web agency has its perks. You get to work with some big name brands and there’s a sort of exclusivity associated with your job in that you can offer your client great web exposure beyond Italy and in a language other than their native tongue. But easily finding people who want to publish what you consider is “the best article you’ve written…ever” is NOT one of those perks.

After speaking with my Italian colleagues who take care of digital PR solely in Italy, I came to a rather enlightening conclusion: Italy seems to have the best food in the world, the best shoes, and apparently the best selection of journalists and web influencers. So I’ve got two options: learn Italian really well and join the Italian digital PR (DPR) team or establish the differences between the two markets to be able to properly conquer PR in the UK. My Italian’s not so good, so let’s go with the latter.

Here are the three main differences between doing digital PR in Italy and the UK:

Italy hasn’t jumped on the bandwagon quite yet with SEO. The whole idea of a web marketing agency is still a budding business in Italy and not everyone has caught on yet. In the UK, however, web marketing is far more developed, making journalists and influence makers more aware and therefore much more privy to what you are trying to do as a PR professional. One time someone from an editorial team got quite short with me, saying they would “never accept an SEO article like this.” How do they even know that term SEO?? In Italy it’s quite rare to have a response like this because SEO and web agencies have yet to be exploited.

Younger vs. older journalists. Journalists in Italy tend to be a bit older than those in the UK, in my opinion working in the favor of a web marketing agency. First and foremost, this goes hand in hand with the previous point. According to my colleagues, most Italian journalists aren’t yet versed on this subject. The idea of this job is an exchange of great content to get exposure for your client. Those principles seem to still hold true in Italy with an older generation. In the UK, it’s a different story: they want to avoid you like the plague. OR they want money. Nothing’s free anymore. Your article usually makes it to the editorial team of a website in the UK (I like to call the publishing police), and it dies right there. UK websites can smell you as a web agency a mile away and often toss you to their advertising team.

Approach. Whereas a digital PR professional in Italy may be able to contact several journalists and websites like a traditional PR agency and have great success, if you’re working with the UK market you’ve got to get crafty. You’ve got to personalize each email, literally spell out what you would like to write for them and where exactly it would be a great fit. You have to sell the pants off these people! It’s a tougher competition and a tougher competition requires you to go the extra mile.

If you’re working side by side with your Italian colleagues in a web agency, don’t get frustrated, it’s merely a different market, a different way of working. As long as you understand it, you can surely have the upper hand in the situation.