Regardless of the long-term ramifications of Brexit, Europe will continue to be a key region for any business looking to expand its global footprint – eight out of the top ten countries listed in the Global Innovation Index are all based in Europe. If you are looking to get your foot in the door or increase your existing presence within Europe, a strong communications strategy should be a part of this.
In approaching Europe from PR perspective, you must be aware that Europe is composed of multiple countries, each with its own unique cultural and socio-economic influences – it’s a huge mistake to think you can approach Europe as one, homogeneous region. When you break it down, there are three ways marketers can sabotage their European PR efforts:
- They assume what works for their home country will also work across Europe
You wouldn’t want to try to fit a Great Dane into a carrier built for a Chihuahua, would you? The same concept applies to doing PR across Europe. For example, press releases and content that perform exceedingly well in your home market may not necessarily produce the same results across the different European countries – in fact, it may even have a negative response from locals!
First things first: anything that needs to be issued across Europe, whether a communications strategy or press release, will need to be sensitive around timings (e.g. a press release will need to be issued at a time that works across each region), tweaked to fit the local language and local culture. In our own team in London, we have colleagues who hail from Australia and the United States – and whilst they also share the English language with the UK, there can be differences in spelling, idioms or cultural references that need to be taken into consideration.
You may want to create separate assets for each region as well. For example, if your main Twitter handle is reporting from your headquarters in Japan, it’s safe to assume that the majority of your target audience in Germany will not know how to read Japanese, nor will have a great interest in what’s happening in the Japanese market. Here you will want to create separate social media handles for each region to accommodate the different languages and interests.
- They ignore local socio-economic and cultural influences
Your PR strategy must appeal to the varying local landscapes and this is heavily influenced by socio-economic and cultural factors. Kicking off a major campaign in the middle of August wouldn’t necessarily be a major problem in the UK, but not so much in France where the majority of the media (and general workforce) will be on extended holidays. A creative PR stunt that requires strangers to interact with each other may not go down so well in Sweden, but will likely be a hit in Spain.
To get the deep insights required to do roll out effective campaigns across Europe, you will need people on the ground who understand the local trends, social nuances and economic status – which can change on a daily basis. Having these insights will be key in engaging with – or alienating – your target audiences.
- They use only spokespeople from their home market
Your main spokesperson may be the most engaging, connected and forward-thinking spokesperson on the planet – but if they can’t speak the local language, aren’t connected to the target audiences on a regular basis or even live within the target region you may lose out on connecting with your audience. A local spokesperson who understands the region’s unique challenges and opportunities will have a greater impact than someone who can speak to general trends.
When putting together your pan-European PR plan, you will need to pinpoint the key spokespeople in each region and figure out their areas of expertise and their familiarity with dealing with the local media. You may find that many of your key local spokespeople will be a bit green in this area so be sure to arrange a media and PR training for each and every one that requires it.
Each region will need its own specific PR and media training to address the unique requirements and preferences of the varying media landscapes. A local PR partner that understands your target markets and specific requirements of media for each will be key in developing the training.
Don’t jump into the European market without a well-thought out strategy
Branching out into Europe requires careful consideration and thorough planning. If you jump in blindly, you may alienate your audience and hurt your brand reputation across the European market.
Understanding local socio-economic nuances, ensuring your strategy and content are relevant to each region and building up local assets and spokespeople are key to a winning pan-European PR strategy. Remember, when issuing any PR strategy across varying regions, you need to ask yourself “how is this strategy relevant to this region? Why should people in this region care?” If the answer is no, you will need to readjust or go back to the drawing board.
And if you get it right, you will be a big step closer in winning one of the key global markets.
Interested in learning more about doing PR in Europe? We’re hosting a webinar 5 Dec on “The Code to cracking PR in Europe”. You can register here.