Weber Shandwick Seattle brings you Global Media Relations Insights, a blog series that explores media relations around the world through Q&A’s with some of our top global talent. The fourth edition of the series includes insights from Katharina Meyer, who leads the Consumer Marketing team at Weber Shandwick Munich.
Q: What is the media landscape like in Germany and what are some of the top-tier targets?
A: Overall, the media landscape in Germany has changed significantly the last few years. Due to a decrease in media spending, editorial offices have closed and media companies have released hundreds of employees. That makes it really hard to “tell a nice story.” Client content needs to be extraordinary to have a chance to be published.
Despite that, the overall landscape is still quite decentralized. Munich, Hamburg and Berlin are the three main cities where most of the magazines, newspapers, press agencies, etc. are situated. In these cities, you’ll find all national and international glossy mags like Vogue, GQ, Elle and Cosmopolitan; business papers like WirtschaftsWoche; newspapers like Süddeutsche Zeitung and Handelsblatt; and agencies like Deutsche Presse Agentur have their editorial offices. The TV stations and large media companies, such as ProSieben, Sat1 and Sky, are located mainly in Munich. RTL Group is in Cologne, while ARD (a public station similar to BBC or CBC) is in Berlin. These are the key outlets.
Q: How do you go about pitching and securing client stories in Germany?
A: I think it’s pretty much the same as in the rest of the world – just grab a phone and call your buddies. No seriously, we have a large number of close contacts that we can call directly and tell them about our client’s stories. We also pitch via email with a solid follow-up call, but only if we have a strong story to tell.
Q: What is the role of social media in Germany and how does it impact telling client stories?
A: Social media is growing in Germany, but it’s not at the same level as the U.K. or the U.S. Currently, more than 78 percent of internet users have at least one social network account. With 27 million users, Facebook is the most important platform in Germany, and is growing. Next to Facebook, the business platform Xing is important, followed by Twitter and LinkedIn. Unfortunately, no official Twitter numbers have been published this year, but experts estimate about 1 to 1.5 million users in Germany, with most of them using the platform professionally. Pinterest (2.1 million users) and Instagram (about 1 million users) are also growing here. Many clients are still very careful with digital profiles and campaigns, but we’re always looking at ways to integrate our communications strategies as we develop ideas.
Q: How do you engage with media and develop relationships in Germany?
A: Editors in Germany are not too keen to meet us PR folks every evening for dinner. So, informal lunches are a perfect way to talk a little bit more in private. Also, editorial tours with a client or meeting up at conventions and trade shows are a good way to build relationships.
Q: What piece of advice can you share about working with media in Germany?
A: Be informed about the whole media landscape, read a new magazine, newspaper or blog whenever it’s possible. Get to know an editor’s daily routine and be respectful. Don’t call just for the sake of it if it’s not a close contact, and of course, always be 100 percent reliable.
Katharina Meyer leads the Weber Shandwick Consumer Marketing team in Munich, and has more than eleven years of experience in lifestyle, consumer, food and trade PR. She’s developed successful integrated communication campaigns for renowned national and international clients across a range of business sectors, including entertainment, sports, food, digital, e-commerce and consumer technology.