regensburg-85883_640_David Mark_Pixabay

Staying grounded

In between dealing with clients from all over the world, conference calls that go beyond borders, and working together with people from a wide range of nationalities, it’s easy to forget that Justa Public Relations is based in Regensburg in the heart of Bavaria, Germany. And even though we are so internationally focused, feeling like you are part of a community in your home base is worth a lot. This is exactly why a few years back we decided to join Stadtmarketing Regensburg – a group bringing together local businesses in the vibrant historical (and surprisingly industrial) city of Regensburg.

Stadtmarketing Regensburg is an association of a wide range of small businesses to major conglomerates in and around Regensburg, from big fish such as Infineon, Continental, Osram and BMW to one-(wo)man-ventures. Its goal is to make Regensburg an even more attractive playground for science, industry and commerce. Every month it organizes a networking event called Netzwerk|Stadt, where members get the chance to take a look behind the scenes at a fellow members’ businesses. In the summer, there is a special edition of the Netzwerk|Stadt: the Summer Lounge. On this evening, the members can introduce themselves and their businesses in a fair-like setting. Having attended it in previous years, I knew this would be a great opportunity to continue to connect with the Regensburg business world.

So, despite most of our customers and partners being based elsewhere, we believe it is always important to have a strong network around you. To stay up to date, creative, and constantly moving with the times. It’s no wonder co-working spaces keep sprouting up everywhere: the interchange of new ideas is what keeps any business going. We stay connected to give you the best possible service!

Industrial Automation

Highly-specialized partners wanted!

Industrial AutomationOften, we are approached to help Germany-based clients with international marketing or communications projects in native-English, but every now and again we are recommended by previous clients or colleagues to support an international technology or engineering business looking for help in Germany, where we are headquartered. We had just such a request last week, that made me realize how completely individual and unique the necessary skillsets for such projects can be.

Differentiation: what’s your sweet spot?

Increasingly, clients seem to be looking for reliable partners with that ‘sweet spot’ overlap in multiple, specialized criteria. First comes functional expertise, such as messaging and storytelling knowhow, media relations skills, or social media capabilities – without this you don’t have ‘table stakes’ to begin a partnership discussion. Second – though often ranked highest in terms of importance to information experts within the client organizations – comes an understanding of the relevant business sector or industry, specific areas of innovation or applications, and the relevant trends that are driving that market currently. This is often where the competitive differentiation lies, and you may not be considered without an Engineering Degree! Third – though often taken completely for granted – is having the right combination of cultural and/or language skills. Let me explain with a current example.

Current project: industrial automation social networking in Germany

My new US-based client knows they need a specialized partner to help the company position its expertise in industrial automation to potential influencers and customers in Germany. If you think you might fit the bill – please get in touch and fill out our Partner Application Form here.

It’s not a massive budget (where is these days!), and they have also had a less than positive experience in the past with larger agencies, so they prefer to work with experienced ‘freelancers.’  The topic and engineering audience mean that a high level of technical understanding – and ability to engage people around industrial automation topics – is essential.

When it comes to culture and language, there is no one-word, simple answer (contrary to frequent expectation). In this case, native-German is essential, while the ability to translate from US-corporate-to-German-engineer (Mittlestand, even) is also desired. In these days of digital transformation and multi-generational workforces, the words, examples, and channels you use – even choosing international English for some German LinkedIn groups – may positively influence success in meeting goals.

Like I say, this is not a simple job description to write – but every project that comes through our door has a similar combination of completely unique client needs! Have you had a similar experience filling difficult to specify roles?

All in the day job

In the meantime, we’ll help the client to specify this project, look at the available budget and which goals or activities they should prioritize accordingly, and help them to develop the brief for this and related projects. Luckily, we’ve had experience of doing this for technology clients in the past! For example, a previous client at the US consumer software company Techsmith said:

“I have had the pleasure of knowing Ronna Porter for many years now. During my time at TechSmith, I worked directly with Ronna as she led the agency team in Germany to great success. Her team spearheaded TechSmith’s PR-led demand generation push in Europe to consolidate established brands in the market – Camtasia Studio and Snagit, while launching new ones including Jing. TechSmith was able to directly link weekly sales figures to coverage, reviews, and giveaways. While managing agencies long distance can be a real challenge, Ronna made this as easy for me as she could through excellent communication skills. I recommend her to other American companies looking for PR or AR help to break into lucrative European markets such as Germany.” If you are looking for this kind of support too, Just Ask!


Mistress of my own destiny

On International Women’s Day #IWD2018, I share the story of what has most influenced my work choices in case it inspires someone currently facing a wide gap as my attempt to #PushforProgress and share role models! Thanks to Jenifer Boughey for allowing me to share one of the six stories she collected for her (successful!) MBA thesis – ‘Mind the Gap: Female perceptions and narratives of women’s journeys in communications/PR’. You can watch the video (including images of some of the wonderful places I’ve lived and worked around Europe) at:

For me, being a leader isn’t a management position. Leadership is something you do and are witnessed to do. It’s an action. It’s practical. It’s a quality you demonstrate again and again over your lifetime. Virtually by definition: it’s a role model people choose – or choose not – to follow. 

While my bio lists several senior international communications roles over two decades, I don’t believe that the jobs I’ve done define my leadership capabilities. That’s why building an international network of contacts and references, in real life and on social networks such as LinkedIn, has been so valuable to me. That said, when I needed a job in my late 40s, failing to tick a long list of generic boxes meant I was unlikely to be interviewed for the few potentially-appropriate roles in small-town Bavaria, Germany, where I lived. Let’s just say that the odds were stacked against me. But – having already struggled to get back to work after maternity leave 10 years ago when I was a ‘trailing spouse’ – I wasn’t going to let that hold me back again.

Although I’ve gone on to live in several European cities, I grew up on a tiny, windswept island on the west coast of Scotland. At 21, my first graduate job was with a United Nations agency in Geneva, working with people – literally – from every corner of the globe. When I look back, this contrasting experience has influenced many of my life choices and given me a passion for building relationships in a geographically-dispersed, networked world.

I’ve now spent half of my life outside my native Scotland – you might as well say outside my comfort zone in terms of culture, language, and approach. Only in retrospect is it clear to me that, although challenging most of the time, this is exactly the thing that has exercised and strengthened my ‘Thriving on Constant Change’ muscle.

So, when the Munich-based Communications Consultancy I’d helped run for seven years decided to close in Spring 2016, I created my own freelance consultancy, Justa Public Relations, offering a ‘public-relations-as-a-service’ approach, giving my clients access to as much or as little expert, native-English international communication as they need, without having to commit to a retainer or a minimum budget.

So, I applied for and received a business start grant and haven’t looked back, acquiring 10 international clients in the first 18 months. In the main, it’s because my clients wouldn’t normally employ someone like me, that they need to hire my consultancy services.

Other that believing that this was the right approach for me at this point in my life, I was also restricted by my location in Regensburg and family responsibilities while my husband travelled significantly. I also chose not to waste my time and energy finding the right job, in the right language, at the right salary. I already knew it didn’t exist! 

In this way, I’ve taken control of my own destiny to use my knowledge, skills and experience in a digitally-transforming world. 


Voyage of Discovery

I’ve been lucky enough to experience some real high points in my communications career, learning something new from each one – from developing the communications plan for the launch of the UN International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour in 1992, to whisking a dozen influential European aerospace journalists on their first impressive week-long tour around Ontario, Canada in 1998 (the province now earns around 70% of all Canadian aerospace revenues), to more recently helping to attract £290 million in European investment to Edinburgh (of particular pride as a Scot!) Not bad for someone who ‘just writes press releases’ for a living!

Today, I’m adding another project to my portfolio that I know I will look back on equally with pride, all the more so as I’m also supporting an old colleague and close friend in doing so.

Drawing on our earliest spirit of exploration, this summer nine teams of Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) researchers and their international peers will forge new ideas together on the sailing ship ‘Thor Heyerdahl’ (pictured). After months of preparation, FAU today launches Science Sets Sail which is designed to explore new research horizons during a ‘voyage of scientific discovery’ on the Baltic Sea. Over three separate legs, the voyage begins in Kiel on 15 July and ends in Rostock on 11 August, taking in Malmö, Riga, Helsinki, Tallinn and Danzig on the way.

Recognised as a centre of excellence for innovation and international research (for example, Reuters ranks it 6th in Europe), FAU has designed Science Sets Sail around its eight major research topics, each with poignant relevance today such as: New Processes and Materials; Electronics, Analytics and Digital Transformation; and Cultural Values, Religion and Human Rights. Through moderated discussions, presentations, interdisciplinary research, teamwork, and every-day on-board life – swabbing the decks, cooking in the galley, keeping watch, and so forth – FAU’s goal is to grow together with its research partners from Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Poland, Sweden and further afield. Meanwhile, ‘Open Ship Days’ at the five ports of call will broaden the initiative’s audience and appeal.

Launching Science Sets Sail and a new website

The initiative is the brainchild of my old colleague, friend, and now client, Blandina Mangelkramer, FAU’s Head of Communication and Marketing, who said: “With Science Sets Sail, we’ve created a dynamic environment for international collaboration. To widen our net beyond the direct participants, we’re taking every opportunity to share information and exciting stories from the ship and ports of call, including a growing list of events, and a ship’s log book which will be updated in the run up to and during the voyage.”

In fact, that’s where Justa Public Relations comes in as we’ve been developing all the English content for the project, including brochures, a separate website, press and other materials, and now social media content. Blandina adds: “Justa Public Relations is a joy to work with – smart, dedicated, and quick to come up with a pragmatic solution to each new challenge. I’ve valued Ronna Porter’s judgement and support across multiple complex topics for many years.”

I look forward to seeing what kind of impact the project will have on innovative international collaboration, trying to put this into words, and learning lots in the process!

Find out more about Science Sets Sail at


An image of hope on migration and integration

The image of three-year-old, Alan Kurdi, lying lifeless on a Turkish beach in September 2016, became overnight the defining image of the current refugee crisis. How do we explain to our children the desperation that drives parents to risk everything – even the very lives of their family – to escape war, torture, and persecution? How do we help them to understand the complex issues around open and closed borders, psychological trauma, the mountainous obstacles of starting again in a new country – with a new language – and the challenges that integration poses to individuals, societies and economies. A new dance-in-schools project called ‘Lysa’ (an anagram of the German word for asylum) attempts to do just that.

“When I saw that picture, as a father I couldn’t help but think what if it had been us? Trying to save my family, and losing them all in the attempt to cross the Mediterranean into Europe and safety as Alan’s father did,” said Sebastiano Bonivento, of Ballett-Freunde Regensburg. “I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and began to discuss with fellow choreographers, Martina Feiertag and Alessio Burani, the concept of creating a project that broaches the complex topics of migration and integration with school children from nine years old using the universal language of contemporary dance.

The moving and impactful 30-minute dance is the center point of a teacher-assisted project that allows the children to reflect on, discuss and react to migration and integration topics in a safe environment. Teaching staff introduce and follow up after the performance, which often takes place in the school gymnasium. The five amateur dancers from Ballett Akademie Bonivento Dazzi (aged 15-17, and themselves all school pupils), together with the powerful choreography, convincingly express a wide range of emotions through dance – fear, uncertainty, determination, despair, kindness … and finally connectivity and hope.

Lysa was premiered at schools around Neutraubing in Germany in July 2016 to much acclaim. “I recommend the Lysa dance project to other schools,” says Susanne Anker, vice-principal of Josef Hofmann Elementary School. “The topic of migration and refugees is all over the media, and so known to the children. Television news in particular graphically shows the life-threatening circumstances that force people to leave their family and home to go to a foreign, safe country. The Lysa Project is a whole new way to address this issue, and to show how it affects the individual fleeing war and persecution.”

How do you get 100 young boys and girls to sit quietly and watch a contemporary dance performance? With surprising ease, it would seem. The choice of music which ranged from soundscapes of a stormy sea, rock anthems, percussion, just a touch of mesmerising opera, and a cacophony of voices in a range of languages, caught and maintained the short attention span of even the most restless. While some of the younger children’s highly-engaged questioning focused on the nationalities of the dance team and the ‘sport’ of dance itself, the older children were quickly able to grasp the imagery and meaning of the performance. For example, the role of a long piece of white cloth to form the sea, a wall or border, or the fabric of society that binds every one of us together.

“I was amazed how effectively movement and dance communicated the fears, struggles and difficulties faced by people on the run, and how much concern it can trigger in its audience,” says Ms. Anker. “The children were captivated, and I am sure also to some extent surprised by what can be expressed with dance and body language. During the dance performance it was obvious that the children were highly focused, and actively asked questions afterwards.”

Lysa is initially being developed by Ballett-Freunde Regensburg as a Bavaria-wide project, partly funded by the Cultural Department of the City of Regensburg. The first performances will take place in schools and at cultural engagements, such as dance festivals. Those interested in booking a performance, or who would like further information, should contact Ballett-Freunde Regensburg at

Justa Public Relations sponsors Ballett-Freunde Regensburg with pro bono public relations, social media and marketing support.


Ensuring your writing is ‘Just Brilliant’ with editing and proofreading


The world is changing. Organisations of all kinds want to retain as much control of their business and their money as possible. They all need a very good justification to bring in external resources at additional cost. Especially when budgets are tight! Long gone are the days of hefty agency retainers!

For start-ups to take this approach is clear, as they have no spare cash to splash around. In fact, the ‘information experts’ themselves increasingly need to ‘produce content’ for social media or news channels. Certainly, based on my recent conversations with charities and public sector organizations including cities, universities, applied research institutes. Its another conversation entirely whether they have the time, motivation, language competence, or other required skills. In fact, many more people are taking responsibility communication tasks as part of their day job.

PR-as-a-Service – you choose what, when, and how much

That’s why Justa Public Relations borrowed the ‘as-a-service’ nomenclature from the tech sector. Clients chose when, how much, and what kind of international expertise and support they require. Often you can do 80-90% of a job in-house using your fixed resources at no additional charge than paying your team’s salaries. While this can be cost-efficient, is it effective?

JustaPR can then quickly and expertly take you up to 100% by providing access to exactly the skills you don’t currently have in-house, for example, native-English proofreading. Don’t underestimate the importance of this.

Extending your team and skillset

Internal team members, even in some cases algorithms, software or automated processes, can do the lion’s share of the work to get you close to your goal. However, someone with the right know-how should always do the final check. This provides the reassurance that the final result is Just Brilliant! | Adequate to Purpose | No Longer Embarrassing (delete as appropriate). So, if you don’t have the necessary skills and experience in-house and available when you need them, cost-effective outsourcing protects your reputation.

JustaPR takes a ‘PR-as-a-Service’ (PRaaS) approach, giving you access to as much or as little expert international communication, marcom or social media support as you need at a fair price, without having to commit to a retainer or minimum budget.

Just a press release, fine; just a blog post, no problem; just a native-English proofread of your business plan, investor pitch or website, when do you need it by?

Contact us to let us know what we can help you with today.



man looking at the horizon

International cooperation: how wide are your horizons?

man looking at the horizon

As I write this I am on a train that began its journey in Prague, in the Czech Republic, and will end at Munich, Germany. Within the first five minutes of boarding I’ve heard conversations in Chinese, Arabic and Spanish. While I frequently travel ‘the last bit’ of this route between home and work, the atmosphere today reminds me of the wonderful opportnity I had for international cooperation as a young adult: to InterRail around Europe, and then expand my horizons and earning potential by working ‘abroad.’ And there was much room for expansion, as I grew up on a small island in Scotland without many advantages other than a decent education.

Taking personal responsibility for the team effort

I could, less poetically, grumble that my train is running half an hour late, it’s pretty old rolling stock, or hundred other imperfections in the overall infrastructure. Nothing is perfect in life, after all, and the more moving parts there are in a system, the harder it can be to coordinate all the inputs, processes and outputs. Perhaps I’m just a ‘glass half full’ kind of person. More likely, it’s that I’m realistic about the personal contribution that we all need to make to a team effort to achieve great things. I don’t expect things to be easy, or to be given preferential treatment.

Don’t mention politics!

That’s probably why – like many – I find the ‘debate’ around the US Presidential candidates and the UK referendum so deeply troubling. We have great opportunities that we need to work together to achieve, not to mention massive challenges to overcome. There are enough crazies shooting up American schools and night clubs, do you really want to put one in the White House?

Brits: what is your evidence that the UK will be politically, economically, culturally or socially stronger outside of a united Europe, rather than making an appropriately strong contribution to a united team effort? That The Sun and Boris Johnson say so! Even when it is in direct contrast to hundreds of world leaders, investing businesses, experts & influencers, and British subjects like me who have taken advantage of the benefits and freedoms that membership that the European Union offers. Even if you opt for narrower horizons – which is your choice – would you deny that option to the coming generations?

I’ve already posted my vote to keep Britain as a strong member of the European Union, and I wholeheartedly encourage all Brits to do the same on the June 23.

Choosing the right direction – its easy to go wrong!

Update: Writing this bit on the way back from an unscheduled 4-hour stopover in Domazlice, just across the Czech border. Turns out I caught the train going the wrong way and didn’t notice due to writing blog posts, etc. Let’s hope that the UK and the US – unlike me – will choose the right direction.


If boring, you suck! A salutory tale of bad proofreading


Were it so simple. Imagine if popping a tab of dextrose could make you a more engaging speaker. Then you wouldn’t risk – with sweaty palms and heart racing like a speeding locomotive – reaching the round, red carpet on the TED stage only to fumble on monotone for the allotted 18 minutes. No, this isn’t a post about presentation skills. Dextro Energy alone is, unfortunately, unlikely to stop any of us being a bore in meetings or networking events, or sucking at public speaking! However, some good proofreading might.

Great idea, poorly executed

When we first relocated to Germany in 1999, I took part in a language training course organized by my husband’s company, a well-known German engineering enterprise. Knowing that the days would be long, and the content uninspiring, the front cover of the training folder helpfully included a pack of Dextro Energy and the instruction: If boring, you suck. The intention: give trainees a sugar rush just when they need it. However, this incident would become my initiation into ‘the Grammar Police.’

What it should have said was: If you get bored, try this!

It’s become my role in life to help businesses to find the most effective words that resonate with their target audiences and differentiate them from their competitors. This is already a highly-specialized task when everyone in the team speaks the same language – both literally and metaphorically! Add into the mix a number of different mother-tongues, cultural backgrounds, skill areas, and increasingly complex topics – such as the impacts of digital transformation and the internet of things (IOT) – and the value of clear thinking, an external perspective, careful editing, and a final native proofreading can’t be overstated.

But where do you find such a service?

My new business, Justa Public Relations, delivers effective international communication and technology PR expertise for the dawn of digital transformation. It takes a PRaaS (public relations-as-a-service) approach, giving businesses of all sizes access to as much or as little expert international communication, marcom or social media support as they need, without having to commit to a retainer or minimum budget.

Just a press release, fine. Just a blog post, no problem. Just a nativeEnglish check of your website, investor pitch or sales proposal, when do you need it by? We’d love to hear what you need today.

Disclaimer: The training book actually said: If boring, suck this! I edited it both for a stronger headline, and to avoid the implied sexual connotations. If you don’t understand why, then I suggest you investigate native-English proofreading support for your most important English texts!

wind turbines

Smart grid technology gains momentum

Where does it come from?

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The standard chunk of Lorem Ipsum used since the 1500s is reproduced below for those interested. Sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 from “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” by Cicero are also reproduced in their exact original form, accompanied by English versions from the 1914 translation by H. Rackham.

Where can I get some?

There are many variations of passages of Lorem Ipsum available, but the majority have suffered alteration in some form, by injected humour, or randomised words which don’t look even slightly believable. If you are going to use a passage of Lorem Ipsum, you need to be sure there isn’t anything embarrassing hidden in the middle of text. All the Lorem Ipsum generators on the Internet tend to repeat predefined chunks as necessary, making this the first true generator on the Internet. It uses a dictionary of over 200 Latin words, combined with a handful of model sentence structures, to generate Lorem Ipsum which looks reasonable. The generated Lorem Ipsum is therefore always free from repetition, injected humour, or non-characteristic words etc.


Measurement: how effective is your international communication?

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

Where can I get some?

There are many variations of passages of Lorem Ipsum available, but the majority have suffered alteration in some form, by injected humour, or randomised words which don’t look even slightly believable. If you are going to use a passage of Lorem Ipsum, you need to be sure there isn’t anything embarrassing hidden in the middle of text. All the Lorem Ipsum generators on the Internet tend to repeat predefined chunks as necessary, making this the first true generator on the Internet. It uses a dictionary of over 200 Latin words, combined with a handful of model sentence structures, to generate Lorem Ipsum which looks reasonable. The generated Lorem Ipsum is therefore always free from repetition, injected humour, or non-characteristic words etc.