As posted this morning on Twitter (if you’re not following us, @PRNewser), I had the chance to meet one-on-one this morning with three visiting execs from the Worldcom Public Relations Group’s EMEA arm: Imma Folch, Worldcom EMEA marketing chair and CEO of Barcelona-based LF Channel S.L.; Patrik Schober, the network’s member recruitment chair and managing partner at Prague-based PRAM Consulting; and Voss, who is also an MD at HBI Helga Bailey GmbH, based in Munich, Germany.
Worldcom is a network of independent firms with more than 100 offices that span around the world. Voss, Folch, and Schober represent a diverse region that encompasses dozens of languages, cultures, and hundreds of millions of people. (The other two Worldcom regions are Asia-Pacific, and the Americas.) And the number keeps rising. Last year, a firm in Istanbul was added to the mix, and soon a South African firm will be joining.
Many PR firms operate globally, whether it’s a firm that opens up an office overseas, an agency that partners with or takes a stake in a firm based in a geographic location of interest, or a network like Worldcom where each firm is independent. The visiting Worldcom execs discussed why the network path they’ve laid out is best.
“When a firm joins another firm, you don’t stay independent,” said Schober. “In Worldcom, we stay independent.”
Because of that independence, each firm approaches their work with both the client and the partnership in mind. According to Voss, each business is maintaining a local standard of quality that may elude firms that operate outside of a network.
“What I see very often, once you are in a chain, you will get something sold and then you go into Germany and you find there are a couple of interns looking after your account. You can’t really check where it’s gone to,” she says.
Moreover, Voss adds, there’s scalability. Clients can add other countries and services as they move along. And each firm is responsible for results.
“In the end, I’m still HBI in Munich and I have to survive the next year. That means we have to watch much closer the quality of our services and how we deliver them,” she adds.
Besides maintaining a personal quality standard, there are standards set by the network. Schober says there are two annual meetings — one global, one regional — and every other year, member firms are subject to peer review.
In exchange firms can count on each other to help with pitches where different geographies come into play. And there’s the promise of exclusivity. In many countries, only one firm is in the Worldcom network. Where there are multiple firms, for instance in Spain, the firms have different specializations that preclude competition in the network.
So needless to say, Worldcom is enthusiastic about the network system. Feel free to share your perspective in the comments section. And tomorrow, we’ll have another post from my conversation with Worldcom focused on social media use and importance for PR overseas.