KNOWLEDGE BASE International PR For Germany
International PR for Germany
Before expanding your business into any new market and reaching out to media, there are several things to prepare for. This is especially true for international markets. You’ll want to decide if you’re going to manage your PR efforts from your home country, outsource PR completely, or use a hybrid of the two while having some sort of local PR support.
PR in Germany
In Germany, traditional media play a very important role in the marketing mix and the role of journalist is highly regarded, influential, and traditional.
The role of PR professional, however, is not as well established or respected as in other countries and there is not a formal process for becoming a communications professional. Given that Germans value official titles and educational processes, PR as a career is still evolving. Another aspect that has held PR back is the historical overuse of propaganda by governments in Germany. Journalists are skeptical and seek trustworthy companies and stories.
Media typically will want to speak to the CEO or most senior person in charge of international expansion and high-level titles are considered most desirable for interviews and other communications. It’s also important that executives stay factual and not embellish so the company story doesn’t get discredited.
The press release is still considered an important aspect of professional media communications in Germany. Some bloggers don’t mind a well-crafted pitch email but they also use press releases as sources of company information.
For the most part, best practices for PR are similar country to country but there are some nuances unique to Germany that we’ll share with you.
PR basics to prepare for well in advance of your first initiatives
1. Understand the German business market
As a foreign company, it’s especially important to recognize that each market will already have established competitors or alternative ways of doing things. Be aware of how your competition is positioned in the market place to see if your product will fit in. Conduct product testing and research to see how your product will be received and what aspects you’ll need to localize well in advance of going into international markets.
2. Understand your prospects
Recognize from the beginning that you have a lot to learn about the German people and that they are very different from people groups you are familiar with. Spend the time to get to know and love the people and their culture, to understand what motivates them, appreciate their values, know which media they consume and messages that resonate, understand their purchase behavior, and have a high-level of respect for different people groups. Getting local assistance from some great PR agencies to support your efforts is a good idea, especially before you’ve established your company. You can find some great PR agencies in the Globig Marketplace. (see Germany PR agencies in Marketplace) Even if you outsource your PR, make sure your executives are available for interviews, the brand is positioned correctly, and that you ultimately control your voice and messaging.
It’s also important to understand what is considered newsworthy by the media and to pay attention to the timing of when you’re reaching out. Stay away from holidays (you can see the holiday schedule in the Globig Landscape section), government events such as elections, and other distractions that make your outreach less important.
3. Prepare your product
If you are localizing your product based on early research, do that in advance of reaching out to prospects and media. Even your product name may need to be localized so it doesn’t offend or mean something inconsistent with your brand. Setting up your product for success at the beginning of a new relationship with the people and media in Germany is much more effective than having to start again after failing the first time.
4. Identify the desired benefits of using your product
As a product from another country, there must be a clear and highly valued reason for using your product versus established local or foreign brands. If you don’t have clear differentiators and your product differences not are highly valued, it will be very difficult for you to get media or customer attention in Germany.
5. Identify and build relationships with the media players
Many months before going to market, identify and start paying attention to the journalists, bloggers and other media influencers that cover the industry and reach your prospect targets. Follow them on social media, read all of their work, start commenting on their work and try to develop a relationship with them before you reach out for coverage and pitch article ideas. Try to be helpful, be an expert in the industry, trustworthy, and respect how they want to be communicated with.
6. Message clearly, articulate benefits, be on strategy, and be culturally relevant
When you’re ready to communicate and reach out, make sure your outreaches are well timed, specific to each person and what they cover, culturally appropriate, clearly articulated, on-strategy, and always consider if what you’re sharing would be valuable to the journalists, readership, and viewers before asking them to pay attention.
7. Make a Focused effort
Expanding globally requires time and effort. Every country deserves a dedicated and committed approach. People in Germany are open to trying new things if they see the value of the product. They also enjoy brands that make them laugh and entice them via game elements such as contests, sweepstakes, and give-aways. You may not get the media attention you desire until you’ve proven that you’re committed to Germany, they trust your products and overall brand, and you have spent some time getting to know the people, and the media. Starting out with smaller grass roots efforts is a good approach.
8. Crisis PR
Prepare for a crisis and consider having local support if needed. Communicate immediately, clearly, respectfully, and humanly. With social media, people expect a response within 15 minutes of a crisis and that the message shows that company representatives care. Appropriately timed messages, and transparent communications are important.
9. Non-traditional PR
Because a large part of the population in Germany is focused in cities, it’s easier to test publicity stunts to gain media attention in small to mid-sized cities first and then move into larger markets like Berlin, Munich, Düsseldorf and Hamburg.
Here is an example of a publicity social media stunt for a German law firm that was shared often in social media.
Overall, the key, as with all good PR and marketing, is to understand your market and follow best practices, which will nost likely includes having local support for effective PR.
KNOWLEDGE BASE International PR For Germany