Being 42 years old, I belong to a generation that had very few reasons to be optimistic about Brazil. During most of my life, the feeling was that we were living in a permanent state of crisis.
Hyperinflation, dictatorship, several currency changes and even the impeachment of a president were part of our routines during the 70s, 80s and most of the 90s.
But since the implementation of an economic plan, called Plano Real in 1994, the country has started to find its track. And a coronation of this process was the selection of Brazil to host the 2014 Soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games (in my hometown, Rio de Janeiro).
These selections created for Brazil a once-in-a-lifetime chance to promote its image as a modern, stable, democratic and prosperous country abroad, a radical departure from the Brazilian tradition of looking inward. And, although advertising will have its importance, public relations will play a key role in this process.
The Brazilian national government started to take advantage of this opportunity on two different fronts, using an interesting combination of top local PR companies and some of the main international agencies. The Federal Secretary of Communications (Secom) is taking care of the institutional side of the work, while the Brazilian Tourism Board (Embratur) is focused on the promotion of Brazil as a tourism destination.
The work of Embratur for the North American market is coordinated by FSB in partnership with Edelman. It has achieved meaningful results over the years (it started in 2006) and has benefited from a characteristic that many Brazilian ventures lack: continuity. The establishment of a long lasting relationship with journalists helped Embratur generate more than 410 million media impressions in the US alone in 2011, with an ROI of 1,000%.
The good results achieved by Secom and Embratur are not enough though. Considering the prospects it has from now until 2016, Brazil should be doing much more to promote its brand abroad. We now need private companies, trade associations and state and city governments to jump on the bandwagon and to start investing in communications in key markets.
More than ever in its history, Brazil is an active player in a globalized world and has to start acting accordingly. The country finally has the chance to strengthen its international perception. For local and multinational PR agencies, this scenario means business opportunities.
My generation is looking forward to witnessing this moment.
Flávio Castro is a partner at FSB Comunicações