Coming from America?

Coming from America?

In 1999, when I started work for Hyperion as EMEA PR Manager, the internet had already begun to change the international communications landscape. Companies could no-longer conduct discrete communications and media relations programmes on a country-by-country basis. What was said in California on Tuesday could be known to UK and European journalists on Wednesday morning. And what was done in France on Thursday could be read about in Canada on Friday.  This immediately brought huge challenges for the co-ordination of announcements and consistency of messages that many people still find difficult to grasp.

Let’s centralise

Some organisations take the view that all communications should be best handled centrally; carefully crafted and controlled messages can be distributed across the internet through ‘wire’ services and email lists. While it might first appear that this makes global communication simpler, there are a few ‘barriers’ when it comes to Europe, particularly for international technology businesses.

Language

Europeans speak HUNDREDS of different languages and dialects. The 28 nations of the European Union alone have 24 different ‘official’ languages. And while many publications are in English, outside the UK and Ireland, most are not. The small editorial teams at trade publications or business desks rarely have time to rework your story into local language. To translate a simple press release into all of EU’s 24 official languages would cost thousands of Dollars/Pounds/Euros. You therefore need to be very precise about where your target audience resides, what they read and the best way to reach them.

Social Media

You can’t rely on Social Media in Europe. Yes, most of the search engines and social media platforms used in Europe are owned by US corporations, and Europeans are familiar with Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. But uptake varies widely from country to country, and some favour Twitter over Facebook, or Instagram over YouTube. In addition you have the complexity of regional offerings such as Xing in Germany, fulfilling the role of LinkedIn for many German-speakers.

Value your Journalist

European journalists like to feel valued – just like US journalists. If you have a story for them, they like to know it is for them and not just for everyone or anyone. Most countries have ‘national’ newspapers read across the country, and many have national broadcasters such as the BBC. These top-tier publications have real impact everyday on their readers and viewers. It’s therefore important to deal with them strategically and to build long-term relationships offering value and insight. Exactly the same applies to trade journals. They may have relatively small readerships, but they are often deeply embedded in their industry.

Changes in international PR

I am fascinated by the changes within European media during the last 20 years, brought about by the internet and globalisation. But I find the things that have stayed the same are even more interesting.

The complexities by the VP of Corporate Communications / Director of PR should never be underestimated, particularity when the organisation is expanding into Europe or developing its European markets. In my experience, local understanding and a strategic approach are critical success factors.

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Christopher Webb
chris@precisionpr.co.uk

Chris has spent nearly 30 years managing in-house and agency PR teams creating highly successful communications campaigns. With a little help from friends, Chris created Precision PR in the spring of 2017. Chris has held senior communications roles at CODA, Hyperion, CSI, Qualys and Epson, and has worked in several mid-level and senior agency roles gaining a range of strategic and hands-on skills with clients and business partners that include; Alcatel-Lucent, Adaptsys, BHA Software, IBM, Microsoft, PeopleSoft, QAD, Qlik, Salesforce.com, SAP, SDRC and Yokogawa. Our associates have worked with many others.