Digital PR

What are the main differences between the Ukrainian and foreign PR markets and how to adapt to them


Communications tendencies are mostly universal. Approaches and trends in the market are more or less similar worldwide: omnichannel, the use of AI, the development of the employer brand, the power of collaborations, social responsibility, etc. These are the trends that have been included in each “top communication trends” list every year for the last five years (as at the scene of Friends TV series, now Phoebe shouts: “That is brand new information!”) and which will not surprise anyone. However, if you are used to working in the Ukrainian communication market and want to work more with foreign projects, there are things you can prepare for.

What about communication channels and tools

We are often convinced that all innovations, communication solutions, channels, and tools come to Ukraine from abroad.  This is mostly true, but don’t forget that international PR is known for its preserving classic PR tools: audience abroad trusts traditional media more, people there publish and read print media, communication specialists produce classic and laconic press materials, while in our market – creative goes off the scale, and classical approaches are branded as old school.

Most Ukrainian communication managers have deleted print mass media from their communication channels.  Because where do Ukrainians read the news? More than 76%—in social media, the second place takes television (66.7%), the third one, the Internet (we are not talking about social networks here)—61.2%., and 15.7% read the printed press. Although there are rare cases when you need to target the necessary messages through local print newspapers in small communities, however, this is more the exception to the rule. In cooperation with foreign brands, you can often hear about their work with newspapers and magazines in their inquiries. Even when the brand is a global technological company.

For communication managers, who work in the international market, it is also important not to limit yourself to the usual social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, but, for example, to pay attention to Reddit, which is not very well-known in Ukraine. Abroad, this social network is loved for the opportunity to create thematic communities (subreddits), be a part of them, discuss everything you want without applying seven filters to the photo because aesthetics is not very respected in this social media. And if you need to hunt down the gaming community, I hope you’re already creating an account on Reddit.

“Could you please publish our news”

There are also differences in media work. Abroad, there is a trend of establishing warm contacts with journalists and cool pitching of your topic, for journalists to write about your project and company. Mail (according to the Muck Rack “State of PR 2022” research, e-mail was named the best method of communication with journalists by foreign PR specialists) and maximally personalized communication are helpful in this. Because general mailing is evil, spam, and the way to block for foreign journalists. Also, you should be prepared for the fact that foreign media will probably take a long time to respond to your messages and letters. We have a case when a personal letter was answered ten months after sending.

In Ukraine, the good old Facebook still remains the social network for work, and our journalists are quite efficient. And while our Ukrainian Twitter (#укртві) invented its concept of what Twitter should be, communication specialists abroad rely on it in their work with journalists. And, of course, on LinkedIn.

CSR: do we still plant trees?

For obvious reasons, the CSR area is also significantly different in Ukraine and abroad for the last year. Abroad, social projects are mainly related to the environment, the well-being of employees and the community where the company operates, education, etc. These are undeniably essential topics, and it is great that brands take care of them because it has an impact on society, reputation, and long-term goals of companies.

CSR in Ukraine is now simply a must-have, and the question of expediency does not even arise. All responsible Ukrainian brands a priori now have to support society, our defenders, and the country in general. Communication specialists for public and charitable organizations, NGOs, both independently and in cooperation with business, have also received a new lease of life and are creating demand in the communications market. It is clear that such fundraising campaigns as “People’s Bayraktars” (fundraising project by Serhii Prytula Foundation for the purchase of the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones for the needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine) or ‘An eye for an eye’ (fund-raising campaign of Come Back Alive Foundation & OKKO for the purchase of 25 Shark unmanned systems) would not have such a resonance without a reputable background, public trust in the faces/team of the foundations and a powerful omnichannel communication campaign.

According to LOOQME’s research of charitable foundation communications during the year of full-scale war, the total number of online media mentions of charitable organizations supporting the military reached 107,202,000 and received 129 million potential reaches. Unfortunately, we do not have research for previous years to follow the dynamics, but it is not difficult to guess that charitable organizations did not have such communication activity before. And since the competition for the public’s attention (and, accordingly, support) between various organizations is growing, one of the key criteria for selection is their reputation and the effectiveness of their communication campaigns.

Ukrainian VS foreign specialists

There are also noticeable differences in the range of duties of communication managers abroad and in Ukraine. Foreign specialists are sincerely surprised at how many vectors our specialists can coordinate in parallel, and at what speed they do it. At many foreign brands, large communication departments work on activities that here one specialist manages to do on his/her own. 

And since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, another challenge has appeared – reducing or disbanding  the PR department.  A study of the Ukrainian PR industry by LOOQME shows that in 2022 this indicator tripled. The same study, by the way, shows that the spectrum of PR challenges for Ukrainian communicators has changed significantly over the past year: a large amount of multifaceted work appeared, companies limit or do not allocate any budget at all, specialists have a difficult physical and psychological state due to the war. If we recall a similar study from the Muck Rack company, where the majority of respondents live in the USA, the difficulties of their specialists are more professional in nature. There, the biggest challenges PR specialists say are: getting responses from journalists (52%); budget constraints: (45%) –and here we virtually shake hands, business impact measurement (38%), and search of relevant journalists (37%). Time and the demand of foreign brands for Ukrainian specialists will show whether the forced challenges make Ukrainian communication managers more competitive and stable in the world market, or, on the contrary, more prone to burnout.

Considering the present situation in the country, we also tend to avoid developing long-term strategies.   We have stopped to make year plans because it is difficult to predict what will happen even next month. Instead, we have become as flexible and adaptable as possible. And when some foreign clients tell us: “We can do this project in 2024, and this one in 2025” it is strange for us to run so far ahead, because one day, we have already woken up in the morning when all our strategies, plans, and projects in one day became irrelevant and paused. We move in short sprints, make planning for the quarter, and understand that we can turn the project around 180 degrees any day. And everyone is mentally ready for it.

Of course, there are many more differences between our markets. At the beginning of cooperation with foreign clients, it is important, for example, to study the legislative points of their countries. It’s good to know if you can set up targeting in Germany as easily as in Ukraine, how GDPR works, or the fact that you can’t use ChatGPT in Italy. However, this is also another challenge among many other ones. Our differences can be turned into competitive advantages: offering foreign clients non-standard approaches and solutions to their requests and being quicker to clients’ requests and stress-resistant. At least we have already learned how to make work calls with EDGE connection from the windowsill, using the power of thought to catch an additional ‘stick’ to turn on the camera during the call, so the rest is a matter of time.

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