Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Notes from Berlin: We held our second annual European awards dinner in Berlin on Wednesday night—the preceding frenzy of activity and the ensuing hangover are the reasons for my absence from the blog the past couple of days—and attracted 450 attendees from 23 different countries to an event that celebrated good work from across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

One dramatic difference between the European event and the U.S. dinner (which was held earlier in May) is that the Europeans turn it into a party. In the U.S., if we’re not done by 10pm people start to drift away, and as soon as the last award is presented, guests are heading for the trains back to Jersey and Connecticut. In Europe, we wind up around 11—the whole thing is conducted at a more leisurely pace—and no one leaves. We kept a cocktail bar open until long after I went to bed and it was still plenty busy at 3 in the morning.

Why such a difference. One factor is that in New York, 80 percent of attendees are local; in Berlin it was probably less than 5 percent. Most people had traveled a good distance, and were not headed home that night. Another is that the European event provides a rare opportunity for networking: the heads of EMEA for all the big agencies are together in one room, along with 30 or 40 of the best independent firms from across the region, who don’t see each other nearly as often as their counterparts in the States.

But the Europeans socialize with their colleagues outside of work much more than Americans. People from all levels of the company get together for drinks on a regular basis and it was at one of these gathering one possible explanation occurred to me: as the attendees grew increasingly inebriated, I witnessed in the course of three or four hours at least half a dozen incidents that could have resulted in a lawsuit in the U.S., from “inappropriate” touching (hands on knees! arms around shoulders!) to innuendo to too many dirty jokes to keep up with.

I can’t help wondering whether the U.S. litigation culture doesn’t inhibit social interactions.


  • At 5:55 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    When I was more heavilly involved in international PR one thing that always struck me when travelling to attend exhibitions or run press conferences was that Americans found it much more difficult to socialise and interact than Europeans.

    You might have 10-20 different nationalities out for dinner or a drink and the US participants were nearly always the first to leave and struggled more to keep up with the banter and jokes, despite the fact that conversations were always in English which wasn't the first language of most people.

  • At 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Dear Paul!

    How come I can't find any information on the web concerning who won?


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