Population: (2012 est.) 3,171,000
Monetary unit: Litas (LTL)
Capital city: Vilnius
Major languages: Lithuanian
Major religions: Mainly roman catholic
Ethnic composition: Lithuanians, Russians, Poles
Age breakdown: -
Life expectancy: Male: (2011) 68.5 years Female: (2011) 79.1 years
Urban/Rural split: Urban: (2011) 67.1% Rural: (2011) 32.9%
Income per household (USD): (2011) 12,280
Broadband internet users (%): -
Source: Encyclopedia Britannica
Having joined the EU and World Trade Organisation in May 2004, and helped by income and corporation tax set at the appealingly low level of 15%, Lithuania's economy grew on average 8% per year for the four years up to 2008. It was badly hit, however, by the global financial crisis and GDP plummeted by nearly 15% in 2009. It has posted low single digit growth since then, but industry insiders are optimistic about the future.
“The PR industry is recovering along with the rest of our economy,” says Orijana Mašale, Chairwoman of the Association of Lithuanian PR Professionals. “Our members are positive about the future, and many of them report that they are now involved in more strategic work, making direct contact with interest groups, using social media, and relying less and less on traditional media.”
One agency boss agrees. “The Lithuanian PR market is young – perhaps ten years old – but we have come a long way in that time,” he says. “While a decade ago we might have been running media relations campaigns for local brands, now we are very often the trusted local adviser for a global brand.”
Yet, for all this optimism, Lithuania remains heavily dependent on Russia and its Eastern European neighbours for trade, and the European Union for its PR projects. “Banal communication about EU projects is the biggest part of income for too many PR agencies,” says Mašale.
“Press is losing its power dramatically,” reports Mašale. “Radio has never been especially important in Lithuania, but television remains a key medium. However, the coming force is online, most especially social media.” There are more than 1.1 million Facebook users in Lithuania, nearly 32% of the population.
The most popular television broadcasters are: TV3, LNK, LTV, BTV, Lietuvos ryto TV, TV6, TV1 and PBK.
The most popular newspapers are: Lietuvos rytas, Vakaro žinios, Kauno diena, Šiauliu kraštas, Vakaru ekspresas, Klaipeda, Lietuvos žinios, and business daily Verslo žinios.
Other important print titles include weekly Žmones, monthly Panele, and monthly lifestyle magazines Moteris, Laima, and Cosmopolitan.
According to TNS research , professionals from the banking, telecommunication and insurance sectors were the most quoted in the Lithuanian press last year.
Yet it is not only the large companies in these established sectors that are investing in PR. In October 2012 Vilnius hosted the Baltic Sommelier Wine Championship, and wine company Liviko hired Consensus PR to publicise the event and to raise awareness of its products. The Lithuanian representative achieved second place in the Championship and the PR campaign achieved an impressive 24 pieces of media coverage across print, online and radio, as well as wider coverage across the entire Baltic region.
Other campaigns that were particularly noteworthy include the former Prime Minister highlighting the shadow economy, the Mayor of Vilnius against illegal parking, and the European Basketball Championship setting the world record for the largest number of people bouncing basketballs in the same place at the same time.
There are about 40 PR agencies in Lithuania, but in 2012 only two of them earned more than 10m Litas (£2.5m): Hill & Knowlton affiliate, Viešuju ryšiu partneriai, and Publicum.
Other important players in this fast developing market are VIP Communications, BVRG Burson-Marsteller, Gravitas Partners, Idea prima, Consensus PR and Edelman.