Spain boasts a great deal: second largest country in Europe, third most UNESCO world heritage sites, one of the globe’s largest wine producers, to name just three. It is amongst the most visited countries in the world, and its citizens have an extraordinarily powerful nationality to travel with, able to visit 190 other countries visa free – more so than the US, France or the UK. Its colonial legacy in parts of Africa and Asia, but mostly in Latin America, has left Spanish as one of the most spoken languages in the world, second to none but English.
And a massive increase of Spanish-speakers in the US has reignited not only the language’s cultural importance, but its political one too. Solely Spanish media and news sites are flourishing, many of which are based in Spain.
The media in Spain today
The freedom of the press and media in Spain has come a long way since the Franco dictatorship ended in the 1970s, but according to some reports journalism remains one of the most untrusted professions. Nonetheless, generally Spain has a comparably strong open and incorrupt media, although many concerns exist on the mass ownership of outlets by a handful of individuals, much like what is found in most developed countries.
TV used to be one of the largest sources for news and information in Spain, but this has fallen with people getting more of their information from social media. The print media, on the other hand, continues to be a main source for Spaniards everywhere, with El País, La Vanguardia, El Mundo, ABC and La Razón being the top circulated print media.
Today, radio remains huge in Spain and one of the main ways people receive their news, with national radio stations such as Cadena Ser and Cope receiving millions and millions of listeners at any one moment.
But much like Spain’s politics, regionalism is strong within Spanish media. Regional newspapers and radio stations have huge reaches because of the importance of their local identities: in Catalonia, one of Spain’s most distinct regions, almost two-thirds of news consumed is through regional or local newspapers with the majority in Catalan rather than Castilian Spanish.
Considering all of this, how should we as PR consultants go around engaging with Spanish media?
Our tips for doing PR in Spain
Before anything else – don’t categorise Spanish media with other countries. Germany and France, for example, have vastly different media landscapes. Likewise with Latin America – what might work for Mexico will not relatively work for Spanish audiences. Keep this in mind, do your research and implement our top tips on how to work with the media in Spain!
Localise your message
Because of the diversity in media between national and regional outlets, sometimes your message might be better placed in a more local media company. Get specific with your targets, and know what audiences are best reached and how. Writing or contacting people in Spanish is always preferred, but be sure to understand that Castilian Spanish is not the same as the Spanish language found across Latin America, and even in Spain itself the language varies! If in doubt, English is widely understood to some extent by journalists, and in fact this might be a wiser option for some regions such as Catalonia where the use of Castilian Spanish can often be seen as offensive because of political troubles in the countries past. As always, know who you're pitching to!
If sending out a pitch or a press release, spend time highlighting what you want to communicate. Highlight what’s different, and what’s new about what you are trying to pitch without adding ‘fluffy’ language that takes up space. Be clear by only communicating relevant information – ask yourself: “does this sentence add anything new to what is already written?”
Choose your medium
Email is always used amongst journalists in Spain, but try not to overcommunicate through it. Continuously following up with a journalist who has not responded will not gain you any favour, and failing to follow up could also mean losing out on an opportunity. We recommend following up just once, whenever is right for your story. Is your release time sensitive? Following up a day or a couple days later would be useful. Is it not a pressing matter? Perhaps a weeks’ time would be best.
Moreover, a lot of journalists use WhatsApp in Spain to collaborate with PR professionals. We don’t suggest introducing yourself straight away by social media or instant messaging, but once that relationship has been established and grown a little, using WhatsApp to garner attention for your story may work in your favour!
Plan the right time
Unlike other countries, a lot of Spanish journalists do not tend to look at pitches earlier in the morning; many will come back to their emails mid-afternoon. Unless your pitch is breaking or needs urgent attention, we recommend timing your press release or pitch to later in the day than you might be used to.
Finally, if you are doing this from abroad of Spain – make sure you have a clear understanding of how to go about building a virtual relationship. You don’t want to find yourself following our specific guide for Spain, but still alienating journalists.
Go in with a plan and follow our advice. ¡Éxitos!
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Having studied at top institutions including Sciences Po, City University of Hong Kong, Oxford Brookes University, KIMEP University and having completed his Masters at the University of St Andrews, Alex’s insider knowledge means that he genuinely understands the inner workings of universities and higher education institutions. Alex has won awards for his academic writing and is fluent in both English and French, and proficient in Spanish.