In this guest post, Rafał Sałak of Prowly PR Software shares insights into public relations in Poland; pitching to journalists, media landscape, and media law.
By Rafał Sałak
One of the biggest countries in Europe. A CEE hub for brands like Facebook or Spotify. Its dramatic history has had — and still has — a huge impact on nearly every aspect of where the country is today; its society, business culture, and media landscape. But, from a media relations perspective, is there really a difference between Poland and any other Western democracy?
[Spoiler alert: Yes, there is—wait for the “quote authorization right” part below]
When it comes to Poland, it’s worth knowing just how centralized the country is. The capital city of Warsaw is the focal point of the country, with nearly all significant government structures headquartered there. That’s also where the majority of international businesses establish their offices. For the same reason, most editors working for the mainstream media either are based in Warsaw or visit the city often enough to make themselves available for interviews, press conferences, press trips, and so on.
About that coffee…
Never underestimate the value of an opportunity to have a direct conversation. Polish journalists are fine with a 1:1 off-the-record talk over a cup of coffee, during which you can discuss a pressing matter or brief them about your business. One of the best formats I’ve ever used was a media brunch roundtable—a semi-formal meeting dedicated to discussing a specific topic, finger foods and product samples included. It’s an excellent tool for building media relations and securing significant coverage as well. Just make sure to send out invites at least two weeks ahead of the event.
Twitter, Facebook, or… what?
38.5 million citizens. 16 million log in to Facebook at least once a month. 4.5 million visit Twitter each month. Poles seem pretty active in social media. Are these channels also this popular among journalists? According to a survey by pressinstitute.eu, up to “one-third of journalists in Poland can’t imagine their job without social media.” Although 82.6% use social media for both personal and professional purposes, nearly half (45%) have separate work & personal accounts. Interestingly, 26% of journalists claim they use social media to browse press releases & other company news or simply reach out to various press offices and spokespeople.
Now, I consider myself quite an active Twitter user. Being the spokesperson at Prowly, I often tweet and re-tweet company news, key announcements, industry comments, etc. Still, I’ve never had any kind of a media cooperation request neither offered nor accepted by a Polish editor on Twitter (over 32% of editors admit they monitor their Twitter feed on an ongoing basis). On the other hand, my Facebook profile is a mixture of posts about my holiday trips, some personal stuff, and news about Prowly—and without even opening the Messenger app, I can think of at least a dozen media opportunities handled through this platform. My perspective is that even though Polish editors tend to be active on Twitter, their activity focuses on sharing their own pieces or researching new stories and events. Twitter pitch is not a popular option (yet!).
If not social media, then what?
Well, Poles are famous for being quite conservative. If you’ve got an editor you want to pitch, best grab a phone and give him or her a call. Of course, you’ll probably end up being asked to email your press release, photos, and any other attachments they may need, but blasting it without a short chat beforehand won’t do you any good. Sure, you may get your news copied & pasted by what we call media workers, but is that really what you’re aiming for?
Even though online press releases are quite popular already, there’s still a group of editors who don’t trust links in emails. It’s good to have a good old PDF copy of your top announcements ready for them, just in case.
Quote authorization — what’s that?
Polish press law introduces an original regulation that is hard to find in any other legal system in the world. The quote authorization right (pol. autoryzacja) implies that, whenever you’re being cited by a written medium (i.e. dailies, news portals, magazines), you have the right to approve your quote before it gets published. Journalists/interviewers are obliged to inform their interviewees about their rights and the time limit to grant or deny their authorization (6h for dailies and online news platforms, 24h for print).
In most cases, however, it’s advisable to notify the editor that you wish to authorize your quotes in time, otherwise they may assume the authorization was granted by default.
Keep in mind that the authorization right doesn’t mean you’re allowed to change the meaning of what you or your spokesperson said. Of course, you may be able to change the wording or cross out a line or two (provided that you have a very good relationship with the other party), but the basic idea is to make sure the interviewer understood what you’ve said and did not change the meaning of your words (intentionally or not) while working on their piece.
Of course, this is only a glimpse of how media relations work in Poland. Want to know more? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or include Poland in your upcoming PR campaign strategy.