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What do you think about products made in Germany, UK, US, France or Japan? High-quality, stylish and reliable? According to the 2013 Monocle Soft Power Survey, those countries are at the top of the opinion table.

Most people think reputation is gained organically. But as a PR professional, I would say that at least half of reputations are grown from good PR. PR builds brands. And while a country or nation isn’t necessarily considered a ‘brand’, it needs PR just as much.

Nowadays, the public perception of a country influences corporate investment, brand presence and visitor arrivals. Reputations of nations were built long before consumer brands were born. An example of a country which has strengthened its reputation in recent years is South Korea. South Korea is now highly regarded for its pop stars, gadgets, and fashion and cosmetics products and has become a top tourism destination.  

In 1990, Joseph Nye of Harvard University, developed the concept of ‘soft power’, which means influencing people to want the outcome that you want. This compares with 'hard power’, which is the use of coercion and payment to achieve your objective. The difference between the two is very similar to the difference between PR and paid advertising.

It’s impossible to win audience and influence by telling lies. If countries were to focus more on PR, they could build their internal communications and better define their core values, traditions and culture. Through PR they could achieve a stronger sense of national identity and pride. In 22nd century, which country needs PR the most?