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Anniversaries are great occasions for reflection and at Action Global Communications this takes us back 30 years to when we took the step to expand beyond our HQ base in Cyprus and opened our first overseas office in Athens, Greece.

This week, we brought together local celebrities, key influencers and clients to celebrate a landmark event in the company’s history – 30 years of successful local operations in Greece.

The occasion represents one of the most pivotal moments in the history of the Action Global Communications network. After the initial establishment of the agency in Cyprus in 1971, Tony Christodoulou was inspired by the needs of clients Visit Britain and British Airways to branch out to the Greek market by opening an office in Athens in 1989. The expansion was into a country which spoke the same language and shared some cultural heritage, but in most other ways, that’s where the similarities ended.

What quickly became apparent was the need to ensure the operation was staffed by highly skilled, local operatives fully versed in their country’s specific political nuances, cultural sensitivities as well as consumer and media preferences. Into this mix we combined the best international standards and practices – an ingredient which in many cases put us ahead of the competition.

There were lessons learnt and taken on board. As the Athens office thrived, so did Action’s confidence in its ability to expand. Thirty years on, those lessons have led to a powerful network spanning 40 countries across two continents including operations in some of the most challenging political and culturally sensitive landscapes on the planet.

Greece supplied crucial lessons, not least on how to survive in a market battling against detrimental economic conditions with all the social challenges that brings. As major name players and networks moved out of the country, Action stayed firm and forged ever closer client, stakeholder and media relationships sending a clear message – we’re with you in the good times, and the not so good.

Maintaining a strong communications agency in Greece for over 30 years has taught us a lot about managing agencies in international markets. Some learning applies to all markets, like investing in local skills and knowledge, but equally important is ensuring very regular contact with on-the-ground teams so they always feel part of a multi-national network. Instilling a feeling of unity with other Action offices gave our Greek team a sense of bigger purpose.

In Greece we particularly learnt the importance of adapting to changing needs and budgets. Over the years, our Greece business has gone from utilising large budgets for grand events and visual campaigns to really having to prove value for communications spend as the country’s economic struggles challenged companies’ bottom lines. As budgets shrunk, Action offered services that delivered ROI for every Euro spent, while maintaining and leveraging its incredibly strong media relations to provide effective corporate communications services. In a country where emotional communication is a key driver, Action has strengthened its influencer management and now offers a full suite of digital communications services.

The valuable experience gained during this period set Action Greece on the path of becoming the go-to agency in tourism and travel PR alongside a highly diversified client portfolio with clients in IT, finance healthcare.

The network’s “in it together” relationship approach has reaped dividends. In Greece, the average client contract is around three years, with client surveys revealing a deep appreciation for our service levels and meaningful relationships. This gives meaning to our commitment to constantly evolve with changing circumstances and times.

The evolution, borne out of the success of our first expansionary step, continues today. Action now thrives through dedicated international public affairs, corporate communications and digital and influence marketing ensuring it provides a fully integrated service fit for 21st century communications in an era of constant change.

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