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What's PR like in Brazil?

With a population of 216 million people, the land of Bossa Nova, coffee and football, Brazil is the 10th largest economy in the world. This vibrant nation is a dynamic combination of successes and failures. Political turmoil, high inflation, slow growth, you name it, we got it.

Perhaps the fact that we’ve been dealing with crises since anyone can remember is to blame for a heightened sense of urgency in corporate life and in PR. Companies need to perform faster than in more stable markets, whilst dealing with bureaucracy and inefficiencies typical of developing markets.

Whilst you may find similarities between running PR programmes in Brazil as compared with other countries, there are important nuances that are worth knowing ahead of time if you’re suddenly tasked with the responsibility of launching your brand in Brazil.

Portuguese is required

Brazilians speak Brazilian Portuguese, which is vastly different from Portuguese from Portugal. According to The British Council, only 5% of Brazilians speak English and only 1% speak it fluently. Thus, operating in the local language is a must.

Digital rules

Brazilians love digital. We’re the No 3 country in social media usage (behind India and Indonesia), No 3 market for Google, No 2 in WhatsApp subscribers, No 2 in number of digital influencers. If you google about it in Brazil, in Portuguese, of course, chances are there’s an influencer talking, dancing, singing, or expressing opinions about it.

PR must show results beyond reputation

It’s possible that, in Brazil, PR might need to show its value faster than in other parts of the world. Impatience is a word that may well describe the mood of executives who approve PR budgets in a country such as Brazil, perhaps due to the pressure to meet increased pressure from international headquarters. In this scenario, we’ve had to reinvent our craft by adopting a growth marketing mindset capable of proving the value of our craft in the buyer’s journey, from awareness, all the way to recommendation.

We have blended PR with digital marketing to generate awareness, aiming at driving organic traffic, attracting leads and customers. We’ve learned to think digital first and media relations as a complement.

Localised blogs optimised for search in Portuguese and distributed by social media posts and paid ads, complemented by key media placements, helps drive leads, which is easy to prove with digital marketing metrics.

Traditional media remains relevant

There’s no question that a placement in Exame, Brazil’s bi-weekly business magazine or on Valor Econômico, our No 1 business daily, remains every executive’s dream. However, as is true in other parts of the world, our media has significantly shrunk in the last five years, making pitch creativity an increasingly important skill - only outstanding storytellers get noticed. At the same time, there’s a surge of niche media outlets expanding in relevance, with high levels of influence in their sectors, and several prestigious journalists, who were laid off by major outlets, have created their own media platforms in a variety of formats, such as podcasts, newsletters, or blogs.

How to choose a PR agency in Brazil

According to Brazil’s PR association, there are more than 1,500 PR agencies operating in the country. What should you take into consideration when selecting an agency?

1. International PR fluency: make sure your account team not only speaks English well, but that they understand how PR works internationally and how to demonstrate the value of PR in Brazil to an international client.

2. Digital focus: look for clues that the agency has expertise in digital marketing, with a “think digital first” mindset, or at the very least, offer and propose digital solutions.

3. Pitch creativity: evaluate the agency’s capacity to localise your company’s stories.

4. Performance mindset: ask to see how the agency’s stance on metrics and how it presents results.

Ultimately, running successful PR programmes in Brazil boils down to how open you are to experience new ways of seeing the world and enjoying yourself whilst you do it. After all, fun is something we can promise when you work in Brazil.

Article written by Silse Martell, founder of the Smart Group of Agencies

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