Crossing into Unfamiliar Territory - A Publicist’s Guide to International PR
Crossing into Unfamiliar Territory: A Publicist’s Guide to International PR
The growth of the global economy has many brands’ operations now spanning across borders. What started out as a U.S.-based company may now have an expanding presence in Europe or Asia — and this international expansion requires business leaders to reevaluate their approach to PR and marketing in these new regions.
As a publicist who may be part of a company’s global PR push (now or in the future), it’s important not to assume the same tactics that worked at home will also work abroad. This is especially true when it comes to media relations. Having feet on the ground and partnering with local PR agencies helps PR professionals understand every nuance when it comes to tone of voice, subject matter, messaging, creative campaigns and even imagery that is used (and considered appropriate) from one country to another.
Know thy (media) landscape.
Not everyone will be excited about the news when a foreign company sets up shop in their hometown. It’s likely the local press will stand up for the home-grown talent pool and businesses before considering coverage of an unfamiliar, out-of-town stranger that’s there to shake things up. This is where a partnership with a local PR firm can help smooth matters over. They have established relations with the neighboring press and can brainstorm news topics that will resonate with their readership — hopefully steering clear of a David vs. Goliath type of story angle.
Know thy reporter.
Here in the U.S., our approach to media relations is often considered more formal than say, across the pond in the U.K. While publicists in the States may be great at sleuthing and stalking reporters online, they don’t always get the chance to meet them face-to-face, given the vastness of the country and isolation of media markets. It’s even more true now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, that U.S. journalists are living and working remotely in areas that may not be near the major media hubs like San Francisco and New York.
On the other hand, in places like the U.K. where the size of the country is much smaller, pockets of journalists tend to reside in the major metropolitan areas, making it easier for PR professionals and reporters to meet in person. Oftentimes these types of meetings can be held informally at a pub, which may not seem like an “appropriate” professional rendezvous spot to U.S. counterparts.
Know thy client.
The U.S. PR industry tends to be more cutthroat when it comes to client expectations and wishes. There’s a lot of pressure on PR professionals to land a steady stream of top-tier coverage for their clients, by any means possible. Some agencies will even resort to blanket pitching, constant sleuthing and more aggressive tactics to get coverage. If the reporter says “no,” at least they might be able to figure out why, so they can relay that feedback to the client. Going back to how things are done in the U.K., clients tend to understand a more curated and relationship-based approach to media relations and that those relationships take time (often years) to cultivate as this can lead to fuller and richer coverage as the journalist will trust the brand, and agency, more.
Founder & Managing Director at Gallium Ventures