Cuba’s PR journey… So close, but so far away

Barack Obama’s decision to rekindle Cuba relations last December was a historical move. After years and years of relative state of being closed up for foreign businesses, the country is slowly starting to open up. The race for Cuban customers; hearts and minds has started already. What does that situation mean for communications? Is there a place for PR in newly-opened 11 million nation?

A couple of days ago, I stubled upon a very intersting article by PRWeek. The short analysis of not-so-imminent PR revolution in the country opened up my eyes further to an array of very complicated issues and events that need to take place for communications to function (or even be allowed) in a given country. It also shows clearly that PR needs to know its queue and its place in the newly-emerging Cuban market in order to be successful.


Image: Newsweek

In fact, agencies Llorente & Cuenca and Weber Shandwick are the first PR companies to embark on a bold move of entering this relatively unpredictable, fresh market. Cuban government remains careful and cautious about any brands becoming visible on the island. Therefore, their operations are likely to be limited and highly monitored. As a result, brands might decide to go into the direction of sponsorship to avoid bigger bureaucracy and legal issues.

I think that the new Cuban market will be highly challenging. What we know about Western customers, their preferences and methods of ensuring their engagement might not work there as well. The Cuban customer is someone we need to yet to explore and understand. What’s more, social media are not so easy to access, since only 30% of its population has (very limited) Internet access. Only 5% have unlimited Internet access. To make matters more complicated, average Cuban salary is 25-30$ a month – way too little to make for spendable income.


Picture taken from HERE

I think that for quite some time, Cuban market will be on the one hand very limited for communications agencies willing to engage in full-on PR and marketing campaigns. They will need to adjust to a different reality and different legal and cultural standards. It will probably take quite some time for them to properly understand the array of audiences they would aim to engage with. On the other hand, I think that the Cuban opportunity will pose a great creativity challenge. Only creative, innovating and appealing ways will speak to the new market and ensure its responsiveness. All in all, I look forward to learning how the industry enters and manages in Cuba. It’s certainly an extremely interesting case study to learn from.


Header image: HERE


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