PR Globe Trotting From Germany to Dubai [Podcast]

Amy Rosenberg

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On this week’s episode of the PR Talk Podcast, host Amy Rosenberg chats with Katharina (Kat) Hicker, founder of Castleforbes Communications and co-founder of the Speakeasy Club. Kat calls in from her home in The United Arab Emirates to talk about her career and what it’s like running PR campaigns in so many different parts of the world.

Link to full article here.

A Global Career Trajectory

Kat started her PR career as a freelancer in Germany before joining the McDonald’s in-house team in 2012 at its headquarters in Munich. In 2015, Kat moved to Ireland and began working for Google. Three years later, she moved to Amsterdam to head the company’s B2B PR efforts in Northern Europe.

Kat left Google in 2020 and moved to Dubai, where she joined Careem — the Uber of the Middle East — as its global director of communications, public relations and social media. In 2021, Kat left Careem and launched Castelforbes, which offers PR services and media training to organizations in the United States, Europe and the Middle East.

PR Practices Around the World

When asked what it was like to run campaigns in so many different countries, Kat described how each place has its own unique rules, which PR professionals need to understand before pitching.

The Middle East

As Kat describes it, the Middle East is “wild,” with a very informal pitching process involving WhatsApp messages and in-person conversations over coffee. Kat said she appreciates less process and more human interaction, but the informality in this approach leaves less for PR pros to rely on.

Continental Europe

Europe has a more formal process than the Middle East or the U.S., with much longer lead times. Many organizations in continental Europe publish quarterly, which means pitches have to be very precise.

The United Kingdom

Journalists in the United Kingdom are some of the toughest Kat has ever dealt with and approach their role from a more adversarial perspective. She says they have a practice of asking for comments on difficult stories late on Friday afternoons, so PRs and their clients have less time to form quality responses.

The United States

The U.S. falls between the Middle East and Europe in formality, but journalists here are much more likely to offer feedback and opportunities for improvement when they say no.

As for what these regions have in common, Kat says how you write a press release is the same just about everywhere. Timing is also the same, with most pitches going out between 10 am – 2 pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Perhaps most importantly, journalists everywhere appreciate it when you send a quality piece of writing.

Advice for Yourself First Starting out

Amy ended the conversation by asking Kat what advice she’d have for herself when she was just starting out in the industry. Kat said it would be to embrace the mistakes that you’re making because they’re the best way to learn. Rather than seeing mistakes as a failure, see them as a lesson and use them to do better, which is advice we all could benefit from.


Don’t Miss an Episode

Amy and Kat covered much more during their conversation, including Kat’s approach to using freelancers and her process for handling crisis communications, so make sure to listen to the entire episode. After you’ve finished, don’t forget to subscribe to the PR Talk podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio and Spotify.