1 Aug 2023

The Benelux – How to be successful in a region that contains three very different countries

Bruges Road.

Benelux specialist Progress Communications gives its advice when it comes to PR strategy across a dynamic and unique region.

Often we are approached by companies who are in need of public relations (PR) or marketing communications in the Benelux. However, communication in the Benelux region, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, is dynamic and known for its own unique characteristics. Internationally it is considered as one region, but there are many key points and differences to consider when discussing activities in the Benelux. It is one of the reasons why we service the different countries from our offices in Amsterdam and Antwerp, to cater to explicit local needs.

Multilingualism: One region – 3 languages

One of the defining aspects of communications in the Benelux is the multilingual nature of the region. Belgium has three official languages Dutch/Flemish, French, and even German, while the Netherlands primarily uses Dutch, and Luxembourg predominantly uses French and German. Companies considering PR or marketing in the Benelux need to consider language diversity when working on their communication strategies, ensuring messages are effectively conveyed across different linguistic communities.

Small countries, but with cultural differences

Each country in the Benelux has its own distinct cultural nuances, communication styles, and media landscapes. As communications and marketing professionals we must be sensitive to these differences and tailor our approaches accordingly. For example, in the Netherlands, direct and open communication is generally valued, while in Belgium, a more nuanced and indirect communication style is preferred. This explains why ‘taking care of Belgium from the Netherlands’ is often not a fruitful strategy. The Dutch are sometimes considered to be (too) blunt.

Media landscape across the region

The media landscape in the Benelux is diverse and each country has its own influential newspapers, television stations, radio channels, and online platforms. Due to the broader range of industries, including finance, technology, creative sectors, logistics, agriculture, and more, there are more trade media outlets in the Netherlands compared to Belgium. Brussels is also known as the ‘Capital of Europe’ and hosts many important institutions of the European Union (EU). This presents unique opportunities for PR professionals in the Benelux to engage with EU policymakers, advocate for clients, and shape public opinion at EU level.

Tech and Sustainability are strong in the Benelux region

The Benelux region has a strong focus on sustainability and environmental issues. One can see this reflected in the tech and innovation landscape, with a growing number of companies developing clean technologies, renewable energy solutions and implementing sustainable business practices such as UBQ, Electriq Global and NetApp. Consumers and stakeholders increasingly expect companies and organisations to demonstrate their commitment to social and environmental issues and the region is home to numerous innovative companies actively working towards a more sustainable future.

So, whether you’re considering a PR campaign, marketing communications strategy, or simply seeking to understand the intricacies of the Benelux region, remember that success lies in recognising and respecting its diversity. Together, let’s embark on a journey and create meaningful connections that transcend borders.