How European Journalists Approach CEO Interviews

One of the biggest dangers facing CEOs who engage in international media relations is the failure to understand how journalistic practices vary from one continent – or country – to another.

To help CEOs and their communications executives understand how journalists in Europe prepare for, and conduct, CEO interviews, the Public Relations Global Network ( surveyed 165 European journalists.

Among the insights uncovered in the PRGN European journalist survey:

  • European journalists are less likely to turn to social media for background than their North American counterparts, and typically turn to the company’s annual report as the first research source (64 percent), followed by press releases (59 percent), past media coverage (58 percent), and company website and brochures (55 percent).
  • Like their North American counterparts, European journalists generally prefer to interview the CEO at the CEOs office or a company facility; although it appears UK-based journalists usually prefer a telephone interview.
  • While both North American and European journalists find the CEOs knowledge of the company and market crucial, European journalists tend to find the CEO’s personality more important and third-party and analyst opinions to be less important than their new world counterparts.
  • European journalists tend to be more accommodating than North American journalists in allowing the CEO to have pre-publication review of their articles. In Europe, depending on the relationship, almost two-thirds of journalists may allow review of the entire article, while in North America, 86 percent never allow pre-publication review.

Also, the survey showed that even in Europe, practices vary widely from country to country. For example:

  • German and Italian journalists are more likely to consider the CEOs private life as part of their story.
  • Swiss journalists are more likely to rely heavily on previous media coverage than any other source.
  • Italian journalists tend to consider the CEOs educational background a key factor, while Finnish and British journalists almost ignore it.
  • Irish and Italian journalists will not accept a “no comment” answer.

The bottom line is: when operating globally, CEOs and their communication executives need to be mindful of the differences in the cultures and practices of journalism in each country they serve.

A resource such as PRGN, which brings together locally owned and operated offices on the ground in more than 50 major markets around the world, can help CEOs with local cultural knowledge and media expertise to maximize the success of their communication efforts. For more info, visit

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